Commentary: Bernie Sanders: A teen’s perspective

By Jackson Kerr

The American political system is a perverted, fickle mess. An era of profound and perfunctory greed has only emboldened the rich and their political clientele to gaze further into the swirling kaleidoscope of money and power that first captivated them an age ago.

American people, whose collective voice once commanded the Democratic process, elect to remain quiet, not their public officials. Yet the ears of the people remain acute, and they eagerly train toward a raspy clarion call of vindication from the depths of a worn throat, tinged with that wonderful piece of Jewish-Brooklyn.

Bernie Sanders has arrived.

Such a glamorous introduction to the senator from Vermont who would be president is not unfounded, as local campaign supporters resoundingly attest. That Minnesotans, long considered steadfast in their commitment to the respected yet antiquated DFL, would so much as bash an eyebrow Sanders’ way acknowledges not only a flirtatious way with populist candidates, but to an impermissible state of affairs gripping the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

  • Minnesota handily caters a sampling of corporate America’s “finest,” having assembled a burgeoning platter of 17 Fortune 500 companies, all of whom report revenue in excess of $5 billion. Yet a smattering of these institutions—3M, General Mills and St. Jude Medical among them—skip past the IRS to haunts overseas, pockets bulging with profits. Sanders has pledged to end this exercise in tax deferral, demanding that “large corporations pay their fair share in taxes,” and invigorate the market with the capital investment Minnesotans so desperately need.
  • When an “esteemed” columnist for the Pioneer Press opines against the credibility of the climate crisis with a nonchalance befitting only Joe Soucheray, one questions the integrity with which Minnesota can conduct itself. Sanders, meanwhile, is not complacent with a deteriorating planet, harping the necessity of moving “our energy system away from fossil fuels, toward energy efficiency” and providing an explicit plan to reference while president.
  • As criticism fervently mounts over the Minneapolis police shooting of Jamar Clark, one cannot discount the prickly details of race relations in this state. Those who blithely deny this new paradigm, speeding down I-94 away from a racial-equality impasse, take care to avoid those Black Lives Matter protesters bottlenecking your exit. Sanders is unapologetic in his decree that, yes, Black lives do matter and advocates for measures such as demilitarization of the police force, an end to for-profit prisons and the War on Drugs and policies that promote the economic betterment of minorities.
  • In the 2014 election cycle, Minnesota renewed its corroboration with a corrupt campaign financing system, parties and politicians accepting itemized Super PAC donations totaling $8.6million and $29.8 million from individual contributions exceeding $200. Sanders is the only Democratic contender for the presidency not subservient to such practices. He does not have a Super PAC. Rather, he accepts only apropos contributions from supporters and not wealthy figureheads.
  • Minnesota’s commitment to higher education is sufficiently apt, with $467.5 million appropriated from our state budget to the Office of Higher Education for the coming two fiscal years. Within that same allocation, however, an increase of $7 million for “need-based financial aid to Minnesota resident undergraduate students” was provided to accommodate the crushing costs of attending university. Sanders’ plan for tuition-free public colleges, paid for by Wall Street, seems befitting the “65 percent of Minnesota-raised students… enrolled at Minnesota state colleges.” And it would place many Bugle readers within blocks of a world-class education at no cost to them.

 

I have engaged a great many people who gush praise when it comes to Sanders’ positions on the issues, but that same reliability seemingly evaporates as discussion shifts to the candidate himself and his perceived lack of “electability.” My rebuttal is this: Such negativity is strategically unbecoming of any grassroots campaign. The establishment has rather lazily asterisked the senator’s electability chances at zero. But such doctoring of the situation may alternatively imbue the candidate with that mystical “Why not?” quality. A tired American people with nothing much to lose may cast their lot with the underdog. We saw a similarly impassioned run in 1990 from Paul Wellstone that bore luscious fruits. Undoubtedly, 2016 could prove much the same.

Perhaps voters concede to these yearnings, inaugurating themselves into an era of real, liberal possibility, siccing a bullish Pres. Sanders onto Capitol Hill to yap at lawmakers’ haunches. What then? Perhaps his agenda would encounter complete refute, seeing him idling back to his white doghouse, tail-between-legs. But at least he’ll have tried, which is more than can be said for his opponents, retroactive as willed by domineering special interest groups.

I challenge any Hillary Clinton supporter to espouse the potential for “comprehensive industrial reform” under her administration knowing that her largest campaign donors consist of those same gluttonous corporations she seeks to “regulate.” I guffaw at the notion that she’ll be “tough on Wall Street” when her outstanding donors remain some of America’s largest banks. Folks, let’s be real: Hillary Clinton is bought.

Similarly, our friends in Washington love to canvass their work beneath a greasy veneer. But suppose Bernie’s agenda were to run the legislative gamut, achieving great enthusiasm and success. As illustrated, the Sanders way draws from an array of policy as a rogue painter might draw from his palette, and as with any work of art, beauty is constituted not by the singular elements, but an amalgam of artistic entities in cooperation. If a “political revolution” of the scope the senator proposes were to truly occur, picture the harmonic balance of the outcome. His presidency would posit to be a masterpiece.

Test your allegiances at the caucuses on March 1. And take care to heed the words of Theodore Roosevelt: “The American people are slow to wrath, but when wrath is once kindled it burns like a consuming flame.” Come join us, and feel that Bern.

 

Jackson Kerr is a sophomore at Como Park Senior High School.

 

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