I have a cousin who regularly tells me that I should run for political office. As enticing an idea as that is, I always tell him “that’s probably not a good thing for me to do,” normally following it with some quip about how I would turn the nation’s capital into a giant amusement park (I totally would) or how I’d be assassinated (that’s a distinct possibility). The reality, however, is that I believe running for office is “probably not a good thing for me to do” because I know, at this point in American history, I’m unelectable.
Firstly, I’m a millennial. People hate millennials. Hell, some millennials hate millennials.
Secondly, I’m an atheist and an anti-theist. People hate atheists and anti-theists. Hell, some atheists and anti-theists hate atheists and anti-theists.
Thirdly, I’m vulgar. I clean up my language for The Zephyr Lounge (but not the new sister-site, The Zephyr Lounge: After Dark), but if it came down to me running for office, I wouldn’t feel right if I wasn’t “me” when I did it. “Me” comes with an extensive vocabulary, including creative uses for words like fuck, shit, ass, and bitch.
The reason why I don’t seriously consider running for an office is because no one would elect a guy like me. At least right now. But, even though I cannot contribute to positive, progressive change from a room filled with lawmaking relics from an era long past, I can affect change other ways. I’m a writer. I’m opinionated and extroverted. I speak to my peers with passion, reason, and facts.
But, another way I can contribute to change is by voting for candidates to fill the seats I cannot and who share my views, my ideas, and reason. This is why my support is still firmly in Bernie Sanders’ dossier.
I have spoken to scores of my peers who support Bernie Sanders and asked them a very simple question: “Why?” Many cannot give me a reasonable answer. Some support Bernie because it’s fashionable. Some support him because of their disdain for Donald Trump and/or Hillary Clinton. Some support him because he’ll “bring about change,” even though they cannot tell me what change he’ll bring about and do not take into consideration that Bernie will face the same kind of opposition from the Republican-led Congress that President Obama has faced.
Then, I ask them if they’re registered to vote, to which they adjust their #FeelTheBern T-shirt and mutter “no.”
While some more conservative-leaning journalists would use these kinds of responses to malign these young people and take a shot at Bernie Sanders’ candidacy, I see them primarily as a group of people who know what they want but are unsure of how to get it. These are the kinds of people Bernie Sanders cares about. These are the kinds of people I care about.
Like I’m sure Bernie would, I speak directly to these people, telling them how to register, why they should register, and why voting is important. Many of these young people come back to me days or weeks later, telling me that they have registered to vote, normally while wearing the same #FeelTheBern T-shirt they were wearing when I told them to register. Even though I cannot affect policy as a legislator, I can affect policy by lighting a fire underneath the asses of my peers and get them involved in politics.
Many millennials are disinterested in politics because they view at little more than a prolonged episode of Game of Thrones. While that analogy does hold some merit, it is our responsibility to change that.
Supporting and voting for Bernie Sanders is the first step.
I don’t support Bernie because it’s fashionable. I don’t even support him because he’s an anti-establishment candidate. I don’t support him because he’s not Hillary and he’s not Trump. Those qualifiers, which I have heard repeatedly, could not be less important to me.
I support Bernie because of his policy ideas. I support him because of what he stands for. I support Bernie because I agree with his political positions and viewpoints and I firmly believe that Bernie can change things in a way that no other candidate could, even with an obstructionist Congress in place (which I also discuss with my peers).
But more importantly than even that, I support Bernie because, to me, Bernie is good. I don’t mean “good” in the sense of something desired or admirable (such as a synonym of “awesome”), I mean “good” in the sense of what is just.
I support Bernie Sanders because, in my view, he’s the only guy campaigning on justice.
Bernie Sanders is running a campaign on accountability. He seeks to help those who need it and strip the socially-detrimental indulgences American politics has afforded aristocratic entities who hurt the social fabric with said indulgences. Tax the rich, he says, so the middle-class doesn’t have to continue carrying a tax burden they cannot afford to carry any longer. Get big money out of politics, he says, so government can function for the people whom it represents and not solely upon the interests of faceless corporations that don’t care about us. Reform immigration, he says, so people suffering in other countries can realize that the United States needs them as much as they need the United States. We must act boldly, he says, because climate change is change is happening, mankind is largely to blame, and petty politics and business interests have done nothing except keep us from addressing the greatest existential threat facing our planet.
These are just a few of the myriad of views Bernie Sanders has that speak to justice.
In Republic, Plato describes justice as a “human virtue” that makes a person self-consistent and “good” and on a social level, justice makes a society internally harmonious and “good.” In this sense, “good” means moral; it means righteousness.
Despite Republic being nearly 2,400 years old, Plato’s definitions of justice are still very applicable today, especially in America society, whose government is largely drawn from Plato’s Athens.
If Plato were alive today and voting in these elections, I firmly believe he would be casting a vote for Bernie Sanders. If Bernie manages to secure the Democratic Party’s nomination and is on the ballot in November, I will be voting for him again.
I’m not voting for Bernie Sanders for myself. I’m voting for Bernie Sanders for everyone. My vote is not reflective of my disdain for my alternatives or any degree of selfishness, but because I care about all of us and vote for Bernie Sanders, in my view, is a vote for the well-being of everyone.
To me, as it was to Plato, that is what’s just.