feel the bern

March 14, 2016

I’m an independent, with a penchant to vote Democratic. I grew up in a Republican household in Atlanta, listening every Sunday to William F. Buckley on “Firing Line,” broadcast on the local PBS station (back when PBS was the only outlet for Buckley’s show, not commercial TV).

When I turned 18 in 1972 I followed my upbringing and voted for Richard Nixon. Two years later he was out and Gerald Ford was in. In 1976 I voted for Ford because I’d grown up in Georgia during the years Jimmy Carter was governor of Georgia and I had no desire to make him president, based on those experiences. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was beginning to vote based on merit, not politics. That’s why, in 1980, I believed the Reagan lie and voted Reagan. I tried to correct that mistake in 1984, and again in 1988. Finally, in 1992, I voted along with a very large majority for Bill Clinton, not because I was a Democrat, but because the elder Bush was such a lousy president.

In 1996 I voted again for Clinton, then Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004. Finally, in 2008 and again in 2012 I voted for what I thought was the better candidate for president. Compared to what the Republicans were offering (McCain/Palin in 2008 and Romney/Ryan in 2012) I fell into the same trap over and over again; voting for the lesser of two evils. I’ve not been particularly impressed with Obama, especially over the revelations of mass surveillance by the NSA, the incredibly harsh prosecution of whistleblowers under Obama’s former AG, Eric Holder, who prosecuted more cases than all previous presidents combined. I’m also angry over the push by the FBI in particular to weaken encryption, starting with the Apple iPhone, and continuing with any other use of strong encryption. The FBI and others keep waiving the bloody shirt of terrorism (and “lesser crimes”, such as child pornography), doing everything they can to dilute, if not outright destroy, the forth amendment’s protections. Of course, such constitutional weakenings have been occurring with all of the first five amendments, with the help of a Congress on both sides of the isle.

Which brings us to the 2016 elections and the horrible slate of candidates, especially those on the Republican side. So far the only surprising choice for me has been Bernie Sanders. He’s the only candidate who has spoken to any of the issues we need to address as a nation, many that were started under Reagan and given a significant boost under Bill Clinton, who in hindsight was a centrist Republican who was elected as a Democrat.

  • The political system is corrupt, awash from billions of dollars flowing into super PACs from major corporations and Wall Street and from there into major candidates in both parties. The Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision in 2010 was the final straw.
  • The real suppression of voting across the country at the state level as well as exteme suppression of First Amendment rights to assembly and protest, culminating in the militarize police confrontations with Occupy Wall Street in 2011. Orlando and Tallahassee were remarkably peaceful. The real ugly police brutality occurred in New York around Wall Street and Oakland California. My small video of the Orlando OWS march is above.
  • My fight, as a middle class husband and father, to hold my family and life together. I’ve watched my daughters and their boyfriends struggling to make a living, having a much harder time of it than I ever did when I was their age. My wife and I saved up for Florida pre-paid for both girls, starting when they were born, and it helped significantly when they both went off to state schools as undergraduates. Yet, when they graduated (both of them with honors), they struggled to find any kind of a meaningful job, and both started to take out school loans to go back to school and try to find something else that might help them land a meaningful job. Both girls now have school loans (the one thing we tried to avoid saddling both girls with), although their loans are much smaller than many of their contemporaries. I’ve watched my girls and their contemporaries struggle with incredible school debt and a lousy (deliberately so) work environment hell-bent on turning everyone into part timers with no benefits. Fortunately my children have started to turn a corner in their careers, but with nothing like the opportunities like I had (and foolishly wasted to be honest). I lay the blame for this at the feet of a capitalism gone out of control and corrupt, due to laws passed in particular during Bill Clinton’s two terms.
  • Sky rocketing health care costs, stagnant wages/less than full time employment, deep unemployment, refusal to invest in real infrastructure needs (bridges that fall down, highways full of potholes, big tax giveaways for corporations to build sports stadiums over where low-cost housing neighborhoods used to stand, etc, etc etc), and a whole litany of societal ills that are ignored by both so-called main stream Democrats as well as Republicans have led to this election cycle where a normal Democrat, running for president on classic, historic Democratic principals, is labeled as socialist by opponents on both the Republican side as well as the Democratic side. He’s not. Which just goes to prove in my book that there’s no difference between either party, that both parties have been thoroughly bought out by the same special interests (again major businesses and banks). They pretty much say and do the same things, only the Republicans are more virulent about it.

This year I’m voting Sanders, not just in the Florida primary, but in the general election if Sanders manages to win his party’s nomination. If Clinton wins the nomination I don’t know what I’ll do. With Hillary matched against any Republican you have the worst of all evils to run for president in quite a long time.

[1] The big difference between Clinton and Sanders
[2] Why Bernie is beating Hillary