UNITED STATES—Democracy is a hard won victory that very few people appreciate, until it’s gone. Democracy is something many people take entirely for granted, while others maintain that we haven’t had any real democracy in a long time.

OK, I am going to start by saying that I like Bernie. And I am going to tell you some of the reasons why. If you don’t want to hear it, you know what to do.

This election season gives us some very stark choices. On the one hand, we have a candidate of the status quo, who is experienced, capable and clearly more able to fill the requirements of the Presidency than many others who have held that office. This is a person who has become successful with things as they are now and has a clear interest in keeping things mostly the same. On the other hand, we have a reformer, an insider who is an outsider, experienced and knowledgeable of the realities of governance, but, wants to change things from the way they are now, because he believes in the possibility of a better world. He makes a lot of clear and unequivocal statements, and in a sound bite world, he is criticized for being vague and unspecific. You cannot define change in 15 words or less. You can point the way, but people have to want to hear the whole message if they want specific and to the point.

The American people know what they want. They want change. They may disagree about what change they want, but they want change. The Republican party has responded to that desire for change by becoming so far right as to be no longer conservative in the traditional meaning of the word. Their pundits wax poetic about rolling things back to a better and simpler time, when black was black and white was white. This is an attractive option to many. It is a dangerous illusion. You can never get back the good old days, they turn out not to have been quite so good for most of us. You can only build on what was good and make a better future.

Bernie talks about change from a very special place. His perspective is the result of thirty years of standing on the right side (paradoxically, the left side) of history and backing beneficial changes and resisting harmful actions of our government. His career in politics began in the civil rights movement, working with people like Martin Luther King Jr. Not just in sympathy with those ideals, but going to jail in defense of them. He was actively against the VietNam war and against every subsequent misguided military adventure our nation has asked its citizens to pay for. At the same time, he has supported every single veteran’s assistance act, unlike so many politicians who only support veterans with their mouths.

Some people say that we need a woman President. I certainly think that this is long overdue, but not just any woman. Most of the people I have heard say that we MUST bring Hillary into the Oval office would be horrified if another woman, Carly Fiorina or Sarah Palin, ascended to the Presidency. So, this is not about whether you want a man or a woman as chief executive of the US federal government. This is about the character of the person you want in that office.

I have heard the argument that Hillary would be better at working with the Republicans. I would agree that her political views are closer to those of the Republicans and in fact, her views would be ultra-conservative to a Nixon era Republican. This is not a desirable condition in my book. There are many things I do not want my President to compromise on. Bernie Sanders has more than 30 years experience in elected office, first as Mayor and then as a US Senator. He has worked with congressmen and senators from both sides of the isle, both to create legislation and to oppose legislation. He has chaired committees and brokered deals. Anyone can see his long and consistent record of certain definite and irrevocable principles:

  • civil rights
  • worker rights
  • equality under the law
  • supporting environmental legislation
  • standing in opposition to unnecessary military intervention overseas.

These are things I want our President to take a firm and unwavering stand on, as Bernie Sanders has for more than three decades of dedicated public service.

But a lot of people will say “so what?”  Just because somebody did some good things in the past doesn’t mean they have any answers for the future. Bernie has been very clear about what our national priorities should be and how he plans to address them. Many of his solutions have struck a chord with the American people to such an extent that even Hillary now claims to support them.

Well, in my experience, if you want to know what a political office holder will do in the future, you look carefully at who gave them money to get into office today. Who funds Hillary’s campaign?  Big money, banks insurance companies, and other huge multi-national corporations. Who funds Bernie Sander’s campaign? Largely people like you and me. There are some wealthy individuals in there, too, but there is no doubt who General Electric, Morgan Stanley or Time Warner want to be the next President, just watch their news coverage of the two Democratic candidates.

And the most worrying thing of all is the number of young people who are close to giving up on Democracy. Some of the most ardent Bernie supporters fall into this camp. These are people who see our government in the pocket of big business and our nation ruled by a wealthy oligarchy and ask the question “why should I vote, what difference will it make?” Well, if the oligarchs get their way and we get to vote between Trump and Hillary, I see their point.

John F Kennedy said it best: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”  A vote for a candidate of the status quo is not a vote for change. The only real possibility we have for meaningful change for the better, in this election cycle, is a vote for Bernie Sanders.