BY Robin Kilmer (@)
I Became a Decided Voter and You Can Too!
A fence is not a comfortable thing to sit on. It is hard on your rear-end and it can also be hard on your soul. Sometimes fence-sitting is sometimes a result of thinking really, really hard about something, and then thinking again and again and again. But when it came to deciding a candidate for the Democratic primary I was sitting on a fence because my heart was at odds with my mind.
Bernie or Hillary?
My heart was with Bernie but my mind was filled with doubts. America would never elect a former socialist! And America is so divided now! Better to have a more middle-of-the-road candidate before everything implodes, better to have Hillary Clinton.
But along came Trump and he proved that America has already imploded. And then there was the near-tie in Iowa, and the massive victory in New Hampshire, and especially heartening was the landslide win in Kansas, one of the reddest states in the Union. I also learned that Bernie Sanders’ campaign had rejected all donations from super PACs and that’s when I really started feeling the Bern. If I jumped off the fence you can too, and here are some other reasons why:
Bernie Sanders has a better chance of beating the Republicans
Bernie Sanders consistently polls better against the leading republican candidates than Hillary does. The most recent poll by Fox News reveals some interesting numbers. While both candidates poll well against Trump, with Clinton winning by a seven-point margin and Sanders winning by a 14-point margin, we know the Republican party is going to do everything in their power to make sure Trump is not the candidate. So how do Clinton and Sanders fare against the other Republican candidates? Clinton wins against Cruz by a scary one-point margin, and loses to Kasich by a four-point margin. Sanders wins against Cruz by a 12-point margin wins against Kasich by a four-point margin.
The national polls include independent voters, who have been excluded from participating in many major primaries. In Florida, a key swing state, independent voters comprise a quarter of the state’s electorate, are left out of an important vetting process. In the general election republicans will most likely vote for a republican, democrats will vote for a democrat, but independents, who make of 43 percent of the country’s voting population, don’t tie themselves to a party, which is why it’s important for Sanders to win the primaries. Trump also has high appeal among independent voters—more so than Hillary. According to a poll of independent voters by the Independent Voter Project, which surveyed whom independent voters favored among all presidential candidates, Sanders won 44.7 percent of the vote. The runner up was Trump, who won 25.9 percent of the vote. Hillary won only 8.6 percent.
A Bernie Sanders candidacy will help down-ballot Democrats win
The Sanders campaign has shown itself to be a fundraising force of epic proportions. In 2016 alone his campaign raked in over $100 million in small donations from millions of citizens throughout the country. The campaign has already started mobilizing its army of donators to start raising money for Democrats in congressional races throughout the country. Additionally, Sanders has won states that have extremely high turnout and he often wins them big. In Kansas, for instance, this year’s turnout for the Democratic caucus broke the high set by Obama in 2008, and Sanders won by a 35-point margin. There is no doubt that Sanders can help bring money, voters, and unparalleled enthusiasm to the elections in November, which will result in more seats in Congress for Democrats and progressives, which will in turn help him bring his agenda to fruition.
Bernie Sanders has consistently addressed the issues that matter to you most
Bernie Sanders has been on the right side of history for a long time. He voted against the Iraq War, never supported NAFTA or the Defense of Marriage Act, and has always been against the TPP and fracking. I don’t really know what Clinton’s stances are on the issues because they keep changing. Yesterday she supported the TPP, fracking, NAFTA and the Keystone XL Pipeline, and today she doesn’t. She supported the Defense of Marriage Act when her husband was in office and voted against gay marriage while she was a senator here; today she is an ally. Yesterday, when she was a senator, Wall Street grew into a many-headed monster right under her nose. Today she simultaneously takes money from Wall Street and special interests while denouncing them while at the podium and when the press is near. While some take Hillary’s multiple changes of heart this as a sign that she is listening to people and evolving her stance, America needs a leader who can make the right decision even when no one is looking or listening.
You’ve been burnt too many times
People who criticize Bernie Sanders for being a single-issue candidate because of his attacks on Wall Street and corporate greed forget that these issues are everything because a country is nothing if it cannot save its citizens from losing their jobs, homes, health, hope and dreams. There was no such thing as incremental change when the banks failed in 2008. You remember what happened. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe your child’s school lost funding. Maybe you use the Internet as your doctor because you lost your insurance when you lost your job and you can’t afford health care even with the Affordable Care Act. Maybe you are from Flint and your mayor decided to save money by giving you lead with some water in it, something perhaps the EPA could have stopped if it weren’t perpetually understaffed and underfunded. Maybe you or your parents have depleted your retirement fund.
We are still recovering from the crisis, but only incrementally, if at all. Almost 20 percent of borrowers are over a year delinquent in paying their student loans. Many more are over a month delinquent, and student debt has risen to over a trillion dollars. A quarter of American workers have less than $1,000 in retirement savings. At the same time, banks that were deemed too big to fail have only gotten bigger; JPMorgan Chase, for instance, has grown 29 percent since 2008. We need change and we need it now. Nothing short of the agenda that Bernie Sanders has been championing for decades is what we need to really make America great…again/at last.
There is a very good chance that when Bernie Sanders becomes president he won’t be able to deliver everything he promises, but that’s not a good enough reason not to try. Most great things in America happened when people thought they were not possible, including its own founding. But Washington did cross the Delaware River, Martin Luther King Jr. did March from Selma to Montgomery, and the country did elect an African American junior senator from Illinois to the presidency. Imagine if American troops decided not to land on Normandy beach because, while it’s a nice platform, defeating Hitler might not be possible. But lucky you! You don’t have to invade Nazi occupied France or cross the Delaware or march to Montgomery, all you have to do is get off that fence and vote for Bernie Sanders on Tuesday.
Robin Kilmer was a reporter for the Manhattan Times, she now writes for her blog: Talking to Strangers. She is also one of the few lucky Americans to have a union job. One day she hopes to pay off her student loans.