To The Daily Sun,
For the first time in my life, I will have the opportunity to vote for a presidential candidate that I feel excited about and that I believe is already making a significant positive change in both our state and our nation. Senator Bernie Sanders offers hope and a voice for those of us that have previously felt completely disenfranchised by the political process. The political revolution for which Sanders advocates empowers we the people to re-engage in our political process and take back control of our government from the political elites, the super-wealthy, and the major corporations. At stake in this Tuesday's presidential primary election is the heart and soul of our nation.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "This is no time to ... take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy." The major injustices and problems that currently plague our nation demand true progressive leadership and a radical change to politics as usual.
The United States criminal justice system has become the Jim Crow of today. African Americans in the United States are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of whites. (Pew Report, 2010). People from lower socio-economic backgrounds are also disproportionately represented in the U.S. prison population. If our nation is truly "the land of the free," we cannot continue to warehouse 2.29 million people, or 1 in every 100 American adults, behind bars. It is appalling that the United States incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than any other nation in the world (World Prison Population List, 2012). Although our nation has relatively low rates of non-violent crimes, since the 1980's offenders in the United States are more likely to go to jail and serve longer sentences than offenders in other countries. Also since 1984, the number of prisoners serving life sentences has quadrupled (Pew Report, 2011). According to Senator Sanders, "Our criminal justice system is broken. We must invest in jobs and education, not in more jails. We must ban for profit prisons, end the failed "War on Drugs," eliminate mandatory minimums, and make sure people with substance abuse problems end up in treatment instead of prison."
Perhaps the most recent disturbing incident emphasizing the extreme inequalities facing racial minorities and people living in poverty in our nation involves the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Basically, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder seized control of the local town of Flint's government due to the city's financial challenges by appointing one of his cronies to run the city. Governor Snyder and his city manager unilaterally decided to change the water source for the people of Flint from Lake Huron to the toxic Flint River in April 2014. For 18 months, Governor Snyder and his staff ignored complaints from local Flint residents about the contaminated water and associated health problems. Today, almost two years later, the people of Flint, citizens of the United States in the 21st Century, still have no access to safe water for drinking, cooking, or bathing and the government has yet to replace even one corroded pipe that continues to leach lead into the city's water supply. As Bernie Sanders stated in the most recent Democratic debate, "one wonders if Flint were a white suburban community, what kind of response there would have been."
As long as the super wealthy, major corporations, and powerful special interests control the majority of our nation's political leaders, our nation's democracy will continue to crumble. Sanders practices what he preaches. Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate running in 2016 that is not supported by super-pacs and instead relies on small donations from common Americans instead of major campaign contributions from the super-wealthy and major corporations.
Of all the presidential candidates, Senator Sanders has the boldest and most comprehensive plan to ensure that everyone in this nation has the opportunity to succeed. Specifically, if elected president, Sanders wants to substantially increase the amount of taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans and corporations and he wants to close the tax loopholes exploited by the rich. He wants to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 to ensure that everyone that works 40 hours a week earns a living wage. He wants to reverse trade policies that have benefited wealthy corporations at the expense of millions of American jobs. He wants to create 1 million jobs for disadvantaged young Americans by investing $5.5 billion in a youth jobs program.
Sanders supports legislation to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work . He wants to make all public universities tuition free because a college education today is as necessary in the 21st century for professional success as a high school diploma was when the United States began offering free public high school education. Sanders wants to expand Social Security benefits to ensure that every American can retire with dignity and respect by lifting the cap on taxable income above $250,000. He wants to guarantee healthcare as a right of citizenship by replacing the high premiums, deductibles, and out of pocket expenses associated with Obamacare with a Medicare for all single payer healthcare system. Sanders wants to require all employers to provide at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, two weeks of paid vacation, and seven paid sick days. He wants to enact a universal childcare and pre-kindergarten program. Finally, Sanders wants to break up huge financial institutions so that they are no longer too big to fail.
You can learn more about Bernie Sanders by visiting his website at berniesanders.com Please join this movement to save the soul of democracy in the United States by voting for Bernie Sanders for President in the Democratic Primary this Tuesday.