By Adithya Raajkumar
CHELMSFORD, MA–Watching the debate on the 17th, the last before the New Hampshire primary, it was evident that Senator Sanders was going on the offensive. Seizing every opportunity to speak, he made himself heard, loud and clear. Successfully defending himself against Hillary’s accusations of flip-flopping on gun control, he exposed Hillary’s big money donors on Wall Street and relentlessly put forth his points about expanding healthcare, reforming education and justice, and going after large banks and corporations.
Yet many people think Sen. Sanders is a socialist, or even a communist. But he’s not, and here’s why.
First of all, Sanders has never called himself a pure socialist. Rather, he embraces what he calls ‘democratic socialism’, which is actually very similar to policies prevalent in many other developed countries, most notably in Europe. Switzerland, Sweden, Germany – these are all countries which fit the label of democratic socialism – and are very successful economically and socially. So he isn’t a socialist, and definitely not a communist – that’s just ignorant fear-mongering.
Furthermore, even if some of Bernie’s proposed ideas might sound socialist, such as universal healthcare, that doesn’t inherently render them unworthy. The Cold War is over – it’s high time we stopped throwing around ‘socialism’ like it’s a dirty, dirty, swear word. Instead, we’ve got to look at policies on basis of their usefulness, effectiveness, and potential to help all Americans – not whether they’re ‘socialist’ or ‘capitalist’.
Senator Sanders is consistent – unlike Clinton, he hasn’t flip-flopped on nearly every issue, especially immigration, which, as a first-generation Indian-American, hits close to home for me. Just over a year ago, Clinton supported deporting child immigrants, and in 2003, mentioned that she was ‘adamantly against illegal immigrants’. Yet, in November’s debate, she vehemently supported a pathway for illegal immigrants to attain citizenship. Sanders, however, has been reliable, as evidenced by his voting record: he voted against the Iraq War, against the 2008 bailout, against the Patriot Act: things which Hillary did vote for, only to denounce after they turned out to be unpopular.
Bernie Sanders is one of the only candidates, perhaps the only candidate, that has a chance of improving life for everyone in America. Nearly every other industrialized country in the world has universal healthcare and free or reduced-cost education – why shouldn’t we? It’s time to revolutionize education and fix our criminal justice system. As Mr. Sanders so eloquently pointed out during that debate, “Who is satisfied that millions of people have police records for possessing marijuana when the CEO’s of Wall Street companies who have destroyed our economy have no police records?” We, the people of this great country, cannot be – which is why Bernie Sanders is the best solution to American’s woes.
(Adithya Raajkumar is a high school senior from Chelmsford, MA. He is planning to pursue a career in political economy.)