In an interview on ABC’s This Week, Democratic nominee hopeful, Sen. Bernie Sanders asserted that most Americans support his proposals. In his view, this is enough to carry him through the primary campaign season and onto a general election showdown with an eventual Republican nominee.
There’s no doubt in my mind as to whether Bernie Sanders has great policy proposals. I mean, without hearing any details, who in the world would scoff at the idea of tuition-free higher education? As someone with two daughters currently enrolled in college who knows all too well about the financial burden incurred having attended college myself, you’ll get no argument from me. No, not especially since I have two more daughters who will be attending college one day. Free college? I’d buy that for a dollar.
Then there’s single-payer healthcare? Again, as a person coming off of three surgeries in the last year and a half, I know a thing or two about having money upfront before a surgeon would even consider scrubbing his hands to slice you open. Yes, and then there’s the problem of the numerous bills sent to your house every week by the insurance company that you can barely afford to pay because your income has been drastically reduced because you’re now living on disability. While things are tough in my household financially, I’m mindful that there are millions in worse shape; some slated to lose SNAP benefits this month.
Fortunately, however, presidential politics isn’t as simple as a contest to see who has the best ideas. While I nay love the ideas proposed on the campaign trail, there’s this other thing called governing one has to consider. And, that’s where that persnickety thing called details comes in. You know, little details like, how are we going to pay for this shit? Let’s be real: there are no free lunches.
It’s a question that every adult has to ask themselves at some point in time. It’s a question that anyone with a family thinks about just before going to bed almost every night. As I mentioned before, it’s a question I face daily on a personal level. Hell, my second-oldest daughter just called the other day to tell her mother and me that one of her college professors selected her to go on a trip to South Africa in a couple of months. Mind you, she graduates with a B.A. in May. But even so, when hit with the information about the trip, my first question was about cost. As in, “How in the fuck are we supposed to pay for this?”
Even as I type this, I have yet to produce an answer to that question. Nor do I know whether she will be making the trip. What I do know, is that she would absolutely love to take advantage of the opportunity. I mean, what 21-year-old senior who attends an HBCU (Historically Black College or University) wouldn’t be down with a chance to visit Africa? But see, it’s not about what we’d like to do or have folks. Instead, it’s about what we can afford.
As an idealist, you may argue that in this country – the richest country in the world – that, we can afford to pay for the radical proposals advanced by Bernie Sanders. As a progressive, I’d say that you’re absolutely correct.
However, I’m a realist. I know that in spite of what Bernie Sanders says, as POTUS, he’ll be up against an opposition party hell-bent on making government small enough to hula hoop with a Cheerio. So while Bernie Sanders talks about a “political revolution” being part of his strategy of getting things done. The truth is that anything short of the American people storming Capitol Hill with pitchforks and guns will not bring the change he desires. And guess what? The only people crazy enough to fight the government in that manner were those toy-soldier-militia asshats who occupied a federal bird sanctuary in Oregon. Yes, and we can see how well that worked.
To be sure, our political system is in need of campaign finance reform. And yes, reigning in Wall Streets influence on our political apparatus helps some. The truth conveniently omitted from any Bernie Sanders stump speech is that it will take a constitutional amendment to get money out of politics. And guess what? It takes more than an Act of Congress to make this happen. Yes, it will take a constitutional convention; and, this is something that will take years assuming there is a consensus that one is needed. The fact is that the influence of money in politics has always been a thing. It may not have always been to the extent that it is today. But let’s not forget that at one point in this country, the exercise that is casting a ballot was a privilege reserved for white men who owned property.
Look, I love Bernie Sanders like a play cousin. While I’d like to support his candidacy to be the Democratic nominee, I just can’t. Again, it’s not that he has bad ideas, it’s just because there’s no way in hell we’ll see any of his proposals become reality. There’s no political will on the Hill to make any of this happen. And, I’m sorry: Bernie Sanders may be Jewish but his name ain’t Jesus. Until Bernie Sanders starts turning water into wine; and, promoting yet another radical proposal like free lap dances and Viagra for men over forty-five like me. Then yes, maybe then and only then I’ll buy in.
Until then, I’ll continue to worry about paying the mortgage, my medical bills, and how I can tell my daughter that her trip to South Africa might not happen. Until then, I’ll just throw my support behind either Martin O’Malley or Jim Gilmore. Of course, nobody remembers that either one of them are still in the race; and yes, one of them is a Republican. But while neither one of them has a shot at winning a nomination. At least by publicly declaring my support for either one of those guys makes me look crazy enough to dissuade anyone from trying to convince me to support Bernie or Hillary.
Frankly, the debates online have been annoying.
From where I’m sitting, a Bernie Sanders presidency wouldn’t change much of what we see at the federal level. The sad reality is that all politics are local. But yet, we ignore this fact while hanging our hats on the idea that significant change in our lives comes from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington D.C.