This goes without saying, but bear with me here.
If you went back a few months, no one saw Bernie Sanders as a real candidate next to Hillary Clinton. After all, Clinton has been positioning herself for the presidency since at least 2006, when her first campaign began (and ultimately lost) against Barack Obama. Now ten years later the general feeling is that 2016 is her year. The irony of course is, this is said with a heavy sigh by many democrats. Hillary Clinton is just not that popular. And she has done little to convince people that she is, well, likeable.
But Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Socialist senator from Vermont, has been his own biggest cheerleader, catching momentum from the moment his campaign began.
“In my view, there is a massive dissatisfaction in this country with the corporate establishment, the greed of corporate America, and the incredibly unequal distribution of wealth and income that currently exists,” Sanders said Sunday morning on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” explaining why he thinks he can beat Clinton despite her massive financial advantage.
In the time since Sanders announcement for candidacy, a lot has changed. Sanders raised six million dollars from small donors at an average of 40 dollars per person in the first six weeks of his campaign. Sanders is a man that both democrats and the green party have hoped would run for years, and that kind of love for a candidate can’t be simply measured or produced. Sanders is the fan favorite, much like Obama was against Clinton in 2008.
Facebook has been alight with support for the candidate. His campaign pledges run along popular ideological lines for Democrats and those who are further to the left- Income and wealth equality, affecting money in politics, and taking climate change seriously.
There has been a honeymoon phase since he stepped into the running, and quite quickly Sanders has become a contender for the presidency. Polling in Iowa still puts him below Hillary Clinton, but he’s gaining support and chipping at hers.
This is probably all too familiar for Hillary Clinton, as the nomination slowly but surely slipped through her fingers in 2008. Clinton is a polarizing figure for liberals. She made a big error in coming out against gay marriage in 2004, and the soundclip has haunted her ever since.
More recently, Hillary Clinton acting as Secretary of State authorized the US to spy on foreign diplomats, ranging from U.N. leadership toGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Senators always have baggage. This is an inherent problem when they run for President, as there will always be skeletons to drag out of the closet. People will ask questions like “why did you vote for this, when you are saying this?” This is a problem for both Sanders and Clinton, who both have decades under their belt of voting on policy.
And one of those bills that has become a sticking point for Sanders is pushing GMO labeling in Vermont.
When I found this out, two things happened: First, my heart sank a little. The second thought was “of course he supports GMO labeling!”
Sanders is a senator who has worked tirelessly to represent the will of the people. And in the state of Vermont, much like mine (Oregon), there is a lot of misguided concern over GMOs. Misinformation whips around here like a wildfire. Politicians listening to a crowd of people are bound to catch wind of a fire burning that bright. So basically, him supporting labeling is him doing his job as Senator: he heard an outcry of support, and he worked toward labeling. Things he did not do: Try to boycott GMOs, say “Monsatan”, or shout “CHEMIKILLSZZ!!”
I support Bernie Sanders. Why? Simple: The number one reason we have a generation of people confused on agricultural progress is because of poor education. We are surrounded by people with strong minds who lack the access to information that will engage and educate them correctly because of the barrier to entering college. So, what do people with sharp minds and an independent interest to learn, but end up turning to the internet for all their information, end up believing? Well, they end up believing some things that just aren’t true, such as GMOs being poison.
Sanders number one campaign pledge is to reform college so that it is free and accessible to all. Imagine if everyone had a college education- good science and mathematics programs, that help people reach logical conclusions. Access to college may be the gap that needs to be closed for people to embrace food science, climate science, and a number of other issues that seem to baffle and scare many Americans.
Keep in mind, Sanders was not calling for boycotting GMO. He was pushing for labeling in his own state. It’s highly unlikely that labeling GMO would be the hill President Sanders would die on; Rather, I think that fight would be for public college, much like Obama spent 3/4ths of his Presidency on healthcare reform rather than, oh, I dunno, allowing imported prescription drugs. Sanders has nary made a peep on GMO during his campaign trail, and it’s not an aspect of his Presidential platform (which we state with a tepid “yet“ -editor). Compared to Clintons record of faux pas, Sanders is fairly innocent. Representing the will of your state is what you are supposed to do as a Senator. Does this mean Sanders will make a mandate that GMOs be labeled on products? Probably not.
After all, a Presidents’ cabinet dwarfs that of a Senators. Many of Obama’s early campaign pledges fell to the wayside as well, most likely because someone took him aside in the Oval office and explained why some of his more hifalutin ideas were not realistic.
In the interest of argument, let’s say for a minute that GMOs are labeled. Despite all the groaning labeling would induce from myself and my peers, labeling GMO may actually end up a terrific stepping stone to public acceptance. Labels have amazing power for people, and a small victory like that may help foster a national debate on GMO that is well reasoned, rather than the often petty and delusional comments that go back and forth on the internet. Labeling GMO foods would not be a devastating loss, though some would be comforted in thinking it a tremendous victory. Monsanto would have probably pushed for labeling from the get go if they were a PR company. They’re not, and in their own words they’re just not very good at PR. Monsanto is an enclave of scientists who are terrible at communicating why and how they do the things they do, so a little less mystery in the equation just might ease the bulk of public concern.
Point being, Sanders’ support of GMO labeling for his state is not worth losing sleep over. Comparatively, Clintons record as Senator and Secretary of State is wrought with decisions that make the left uncomfortable for the same reasons many Republicans do. Her platform is thin on ideas that resonate.
SUMMING UP: As a candidate, I can think of three reasons off the top of my head why Sanders is right for the job: He wants to reform access to college so everyone may get a competitive education. He wants to address income inequality so that the 90% of Americans who are not wealthy (including you, despite what you may think) can live even better lives. He wants to make the US the leader in tackling climate change through solar and wind power. If the tradeoff is that GMOs are labeled, so be it. Are we really going to throw him under the bus over what amounts to stickers?
When I think of reasons why Hillary Clinton wants the job, I only come up with one: Because she wants to, and has wanted to, for a very a long time.