I’ll be straight up – this is an attempt to influence you. I’ve steered clear of the brazen candidate bashing on social media, but my conscience has asked me to write why I’m voting for Bernie Sanders. I see no one linking together the issues in America in the moral terms my conscience seeks to be soothed. Frankly, I’d rather not write this, but I can’t seem to drown my conscience in a bathtub of internet distraction long enough to sleep well.
See, I’m a single-issue voter right now. Income inequality is its label, but it’s only the bark of an ancient oak tree that doesn’t get to the heart of the 8-foot diameter matter: greed and fear. Last September, I came back from 3 years of world travel (dig around my site if you’re curious) to spend some time on Cranberry Creek, our cranberry farm in Bandon, Oregon. There was a palpable change in the anger levels in the air and airwaves. Voices pitched in ideological battles around dining room and restaurant tables alike; I eventually surmised that the double-headed beast of fear and greed was its culprit.
Greed at the very top of the economic chart, that is. Most of us aren’t aware that the top .001% now earn more than $146M each year while the average American earns 4,500 times less, or $32k. Intrinsically we are all angry, and we know we’re being screwed, but not figuring out how, we take the bait of any politician feeding our anger: immigrants, Muslims, big government, militias, guns, gays, environmentalists, etc…. If you look at the income inequality charts, it’s easy to understand why we’re angry: we can’t afford to live the basic American dream while a few of us live lavishly.
Bernie’s not a perfect human, and I don’t agree with him on all the issues, but he has heart. Proof of it is beyond my tendency towards laziness here, but anyone that’ll drive a bus full of women to Canada for prescription drugs 10% of the USA’s poverty-inducing cost, has heart. He’s one man who has consistently followed his conscience in representing the people and it’s the people’s donations that are helping him get elected, not anything from the wealthy elite. If elected, he is not beholden to the establishment who drive wealth into their pockets on the backs of the rest of us.
And it’s heart that’s sorely lacking right now in America. Fear is in abundance. Fear of Muslims, taxes, immigrants, gun loss, etc… America stands on the precipice of slipping into a society driven by fear and greed losing the moral ground our Veterans fought and died bravely to keep: we are not a free country if our fears drive us. It is only the path of heart that keeps our fears at bay.
Bernie’s platform of reigning in the wealthiest Americans to provide social institutions not unlike our popular Medicare, military, schools, and postal service programs, only serves to reduce the fear in our population. I have seen this first hand in my travels: almost every American I met on my travels asked me how I afforded to travel the world. I was never asked this by any other nationality from the industrialized world. The fear of not being able to cover basic needs like health care or housing costs stymies most Americans ability to travel without fear. A population with less fear has more heart and opportunity.
Pope Francis has made income inequality one of the most pressing issues of his papacy in line with Jesus’s focus on helping the poor. The Pope’s powerful words line-up with the efforts of Bernie Sanders:
“Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home.”
“Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy. It is a moral obligation.”
We have a moral obligation to become the Americans each generation has proven we are — Americans not living in the shadow of fear, but living in the light of love and a promising future. We’ve got a moral obligation to vote for the only candidate who has consistently spoken for the least of those amongst us.