Should the United States elect Bernie Sanders?

With all the discourse surrounding Bernie Sanders and his supposedly radical agenda, he isn’t unlike a lot of mainstream Canadian politicians. Sanders advocates for a variety of policies Canadians hold dear, such as free healthcare, a livable minimum wage, and a commitment to the environment that matches the population’s desire for change. 

Sanders, however, faces an unusual challenge in the U.S. – with 60 per cent of the voting population turning out in the general election, Sanders as an individual can only gain so much support. With the democratic establishment rallying around Joe Biden, and Donald Trump energizing his base with claims of “America vs. socialism,” Sanders has a long road ahead of him. 

Although he faces a host of challenges, Sanders is building a working-class coalition unheard of in today’s mainstream American politics. He has coveted endorsements from a variety of unions, progressive activists and a diverse group of U.S. Senators, members of Congress and Representatives. 

Only a few days ago, Sanders earned the endorsements of Rev. Jesse Jackson, a crucial figure in the civil rights movement, as well as the Working Families Party, an organization that represents hundreds of thousands of working-class families nationwide in America. These factors, along with grassroots support of over a million donors with an average donation of just $17, shows that the excitement surrounding Sanders is legitimate.

Sanders is a fundraising machine, but if he and his diverse alliances do succeed in securing the Democratic primary nomination, the challenge of defeating Trump would be daunting. Donald Trump appeals to voters for the same kind of reasons Sanders does insofar as they both promise to shake up the status quo. Sanders, however, is running on a platform diametrically opposed to what Trump and the Republican party stand for. 

Between advocating for climate justice, raising taxes on the wealthiest one per cent of Americans and pushing Medicare for all, Sanders shows time and time again that his platform is based on caring for the common good of all Americans. Although Trump wields the power of the presidency, Bernie Sanders’ populism-fueled campaign is positioned to win over crucial swing voters.  

By the numbers, Sanders is the candidate best poised to win against Trump. National polls show that Sanders can and is likely to beat Trump in the general election. Polls conducted by both CNN as well as Fox News have Sanders beating Trump by a margin of seven points. Other polls range from three to six points in favour of Sanders. For transparency’s sake, Joe Biden also is polling positively, beating Trump in all polls but one. 

In terms of actual plans that Sanders has in place, he has two policies in particular that are crucial in order to defeat Trump in November as well as overhaul the US economy for the better. 

The first of Sanders’ two main policy proposals is a Green New Deal. A Green New Deal is fundamental to the global effort to combat climate change. Sanders’ policy goals are to transform the energy system to 100 per cent renewable energy and create the 20 million jobs needed to solve the climate crisis, rejoin the Paris Agreement, and end fossil fuels while protecting the industry’s workers. 

With global carbon emissions skyrocketing since the 1950s, dire action is needed. Sanders’ Green New Deal would be paid for by a variety of factors including reducing defense spending by $1.215 trillion, raising $3.085 trillion through holding fossil fuel companies accountable via taxes and litigation and by collecting $2.3 trillion on income tax revenue from the newly-created 20 million green tech jobs. 

Sanders’ policy goals are not only well researched but are a necessity if the US wants to take charge of a global crisis. While climate change is a clear threat to society, healthcare in the US is not as important of an issue in the public eye and Sanders wants to change that. A study done in the American Journal of Public Health states that nearly 45,000 people a year die due to a lack of health insurance. 

These deaths are entirely preventable, and Sanders’ public plan would make healthcare in America a human right. Sanders’ opposition in both the Democratic and Republican parties claim that the American economy would be decimated, but new research shows the contrary. 

In a new review, The Economic Policy Institute concluded universal healthcare coverage would significantly help the labour market through the creation of many jobs as well as a healthier workforce. Similarly, another article in The Lancet overwhelmingly supports Sanders’ Medicare policy. 

Published in February of 2020, the article details the financial benefits universal insurance would provide. From the article, “[Medicare-For-All] is likely to lead to a 13 [per cent] savings in national healthcare expenditure, equivalent to more than $450 billion USD annually.” Further, the paper states that free healthcare would save more than 68,000 lives a year. 

Statistics like this are hard to argue with as both the economy and individuals would benefit significantly from Sanders’ platform. Both a Green New Deal and Medicare or All would significantly improve the lives of all Americans, no matter their financial standing or capability of action. 

As a Canadian, there is a certain feeling of helplessness I get when I think about the American election. Sanders has a difficult road ahead of him, and even if he is elected, it will still be an uphill battle to enact his most fundamental policies. 

However, I have faith in the diverse coalition he has earned which shows the moderate section of the electorate that a better world is possible and the status quo can be challenged. 

Sanders’ policy proposals are fundamental to imagining a new America, one that protects its citizens. A nuanced look at independent review shows that Sanders isn’t so radical after all – he only wants to care about American citizens as much as Canada cares about ours.

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