In 2016, you don’t have to be another #bernvictim

It got pretty heated this past summer. Climate change has, yet again, made this summer the hottest on record, while drought and forest fires threaten much of the west coast. However, when I talk about heat, I’m of course talking about the race for the Presidency.

This summer, we witnessed the astronomical rise of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, both of whom could be described as political novelties. Obviously, these two candidates have risen due to vastly different reasons. Trump has ascended the polls on a combination of blatant xenophobia and devil-may-care rhetoric. Meanwhile, Sanders has captured the hearts and minds of populist Americans, representing a pseudo Obama 2.0 that could change American politics and society forever.

These candidates do have commonalities, though. Both candidates thrive primarily off of the support of middle-class white Americans, have infamous hair, and aren’t going to win the election.

Now, I assume that most of you reading this know why Donald Trump isn’t going to win. The fact of the matter is you can’t win an election in America based on bigotry and pompousness. He may have excited some of the fringes of the Right, but in order to win, you need to be able to capture the middle as well. In this case, Bernie is similarly delaying the inevitable.

I don’t personally dislike Bernie, per se. I think his brand of off-the-cuff rhetoric and idealistic values are refreshing in a political climate so focused on being pol- ished and hardline. I agree with his basic platform: inequality is rampant, college tuition is out of control, and many groups in our nation are being marginalized. His persona as an outsider underdog taking on the Clinton political machine has already been proven effective. However, there are policies I dislike.

Bernie has already promised to back a 90 percent top marginal tax rate on the wealthiest Americans. While I agree that the wealthiest Americans deserve to give up their tax breaks—I remember Warren Buffett once quipping that he paid less taxes than his secretary—such an extreme measure is bound to alienate many Americans, myself included.

Bernie’s record on gun control is equally dismal. In 1993, he voted against the Brady Act, which would have instituted mandatory federal background checks and kept felons from obtaining firearms. Following Sandy Hook, he told a reporter, “if you passed the strongest gun control legislation tomorrow, I don’t think it will have a profound effect on the tragedies we have seen.” Perhaps that explains why he recently supported an NRA-backed law that would keep Sandy Hook families from suing the gun manufacturer responsible for the deaths of their loved ones. A few other tidbits on Bernie’s record with guns: he supported a law allowing passengers to carry firearms onto Amtrak trains, threatened to block aid to foreign aid organizations that required gun registration, and voted for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which helped shield gun manufacturers and dealers from most liability. He may be a Senator from Vermont, but given the gun crisis in the United States, he should at least show some desire to save some innocent lives via moderate gun control.

I would talk about his foreign policy, but Bernie has continually ducked the topic. On his website, he doesn’t even mention his stance on foreign or military policy. Aside from serving on the Senate Committee of Veterans’ Affairs, Bernie has no experience with any international policy. While our domestic policy is important, the United States is a world leader. Though that can be burdensome at times, and though we haven’t always done the right things, this should be the primary reason to have someone who intimately understands the problems that influence conflicts around the globe. This is compounded by the fact that—statistically speaking— President Sanders would face a Republican congress during his tenure, which would completely hijack his domestic agenda, making his foreign policy experience even more important.

I understand that some of you Bernie supporters reading this probably disagree with a few of these policy concerns I hold. I can respect that, especially because I don’t think these are the main reasons he will falter.

The main reasons I believe Bernie is soaring in the polls at the moment is due to the cult of personality that has grown around him. People believe he’s an outsider who has a true vision that could change the way Washington operates. I’m sorry to disappoint you.

While his autobiography may be called “Outsider in the House,” Bernie is not an outsider. He’s the longest-serving independent in U.S. congressional history, serving from 1991 to 2015 as a Representative or a Senator. While he may not be anywhere close to the longest-serving congressperson of all time, he’s hardly someone new to the game. True, he may be an outsider in his ideology, but that seems to be the only exception.

His idealistic ideology presents challenges of its own. We all know that Bernie has big dreams, but will a majority of Americans accept a vehement socialist as their president? I say it’s unlikely.

Then one must consider the political realities. While Bernie has remained popular among liberal college-age adults, the country is not made up of Colby students. In a YouGov poll from July, Bernie’s middle-class, white base shines through, showing a gap of only six percentage points between him and Hillary. However, Bernie’s reception among AfricanAmericans is dismal. In the poll, 79 percent of those polled support Hillary, compared to a measly 11 percent for Bernie. Similarly, Hispanics consistently poll him at 10 percentage points below Hillary. He sure isn’t making the upper-class happy either, and while it’s noble for him to rally against the base, you can only forego donations for ideology for so long.

In the end, I admire Bernie for his dedication to this country. He is a man who has an ideology that he has adhered to for decades, and that is a respectable quality. However, if you haven’t been able to tell, I will still be voting for Hillary this primary season. When I tell some people, they ask “But don’t you want to change this country for the better?” If I believed that Bernie could make the broad reforms he promises, I would vote for him. But the President is not an island, and he will need the help of many of those he’s alienated in order to pass his desired reforms.

I don’t think your candidate always has to coincide with your ideal vision for America; I believe you should vote for the person who is most likely to turn aspects of your vision into policy. I find it difficult to imagine a socialist senator having more Washington smarts than a woman who was not only a senator, but also spent extensive time in the executive branch, both as a first lady and the Secretary of State. So in 2016, I implore you to think about your choices. Do not vote for who you think is the best candidate, but who you know is the best candidate.

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