Monday, January 18, 2016

Why People of Color Should Vote for Bernie Sanders Over Hillary Clinton

With the Democratic nomination for presidency tightening between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and with a few weeks to go before the February caucuses, I would like to pitch in my 2 cents. 

Imagine that you are a person of color (POC). You reside in a home located in the backdoor to a large factory that spews nitrogen and sulfur oxides, arsenic, and lead, among other pollutants. You put on your work shoes, finish your last bite of a home-made peanut butter jelly sandwich, and rush out the door to your 1993 used Honda Civic. Once outside, you immediately breathe in the air pollutants, not because you want to, but because you have no other option. You pull out of the driveway, and head on your way to work. Suddenly, you see flashing lights in your rear view mirror, to see a cop car signaling you to pull over. So, you pull over. 2 cops step out of their Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. From your side mirrors, you identify both cops as white males. Both have their hands on their gun holsters, ready to draw their Glocks at any moment's notice. They arrive at your car, and demand to see registration and license. You show it to one of the cops, who heads back to the cop car to run some checks. The other cop tells you to step out the car, put your hands on the hood of the car, and starts to handcuff you. Your heart starts to race. You have no idea what is going on. You have a squeaky clean record. You ask, quivering, "What's going on?! Why are you arresting me?!" The cop tells you aggressively to "shut up!!" The other cop comes back from the squad car, and begins "searching" through your vehicle. The cop then pulls out a small plastic zipped bag from his pocket that appears to have some sort of white powder nearly filled to the top. You scream, "That's not mine!! I don't even do drugs!!" With nobody around to videotape and witness the arrest, you have no legitimate recourse. Instead of going to work to punch in your hours, you get booked. Instead of coming home from work and enjoying a home-cooked meal, you do jail time. When you come out of jail, no one will hire you because of your criminal record. You have been forced into a systemic cycle of oppression. 

Given Hillary Clinton's plans on tackling gun violence prevention and criminal justice reform, along with her voting history, and her accepting donations from corporations, I can clearly picture the above scenario to occur habitually to POC with a 2016 Hillary Clinton presidency.
 It appears that Hillary Clinton does not support the end of civil asset forfeiture, civilian oversight of police departments, feedback and contribution from civil rights activists and leaders, laws on allowable use of force, and reducing funding to police departments that do not make progress toward policing reform. Truth be told, Clinton's proposed policies seem to very well make an impact, but may only put a dent in the system. Due to her stances on these aforementioned issues (and more), Clinton's policies, to me, seem to be more and more band-aids on a never-healing wound.   

Now, imagine again, that you are a POC. You live in a neighborhood, sharing the same block with a diverse group of individuals. You step out of the front door of your house, and take a heaping breath of fresh air. You smell the fresh grass, you see one butterfly courting another butterfly, and you smile happily as you trot towards your 1993 used Honda Civic. Absent are the polluting factories. In place of them are sources of renewable energy. As you drive off to work, you wave to your community police, Alex Doe, who is riding along on a bike. Alex Doe has been a neighborhood police for the last 5 years, and knows the history and inner-workings of the neighborhood. As you see Alex fading into the distance, you can't help but feel safe that you are in good hands.

Given Bernie Sanders' plans on tackling racial justice issues (including supporting the aforementioned policies that Hillary Clinton seem to not support), along with his voting history, and his civil rights activism and morally consistent actions since the 1950's, I can vividly picture the above scenario to happen in neighborhoods across the nation with a 2016 Bernie Sanders presidency. Bernie Sanders' proposed policies may very well be the beginning of the break down of institutional racism, systemic oppression, and white supremacy. If his civil rights policies do not produce desired results, I feel confident that Bernie Sanders will work with civil rights activists and leaders to enact policy changes that will uplift POC and intrinsically heal broken wounds.

Beyond Bernie Sanders' racial justice platform, the following are Bernie's other policies that may benefit many POC's life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. As you read the following, think about how each of these policies might affect you as a POC and your community.

  • Bridge the income and wealth inequality
    • raise the minimum wage to $15/hour (including enacting paid family and medical leave, and universal childcare) 
    • ensure the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share in taxes (including closing tax loopholes, imposing the estate tax, and tax on Wall Street speculation)
    • bring outsourced jobs back to America
    • invest in youth jobs program to help the youth climb the economic ladder
    • expand social security
    • strengthen unions
  • Make public college education tuition-free, so we can afford higher education and move up in the economic ladder
  • Reform the way the political process works by reforming campaign financing, so each and every one of us has a voice and a vote that can be heard
  • Instill Voting Rights Act and make voting easier (including making election day a national holiday)
  • Combat climate change, so that people do not have to succumb to living near environmental hazards
  • Create fair and humane immigration policies, so families can stay together 
  • Fight for equal pay for women
  • Fight for LGBTQ rights
  • Ensure healthcare for all (including more affordable prescription drug prices) 
  • Break up big banks
  • Support organic farming 
Bernie Sanders' vision of America is a near-identical embodiment of that of Martin Luther King Jr. Bernie Sanders is instilling massive enthusiasm in the American people and is surging in momentum every single day. We may only have one chance in 2016 to elect a president who will fight for POC, who is committed to righting the wrongs for the past 200 plus years, and who will work hard to make America work for everyone. 

Don't just take my word for it. Do your research. Be politically educated. And engage in the political process. 

How you can help

If this post resonates with you, please, share it with your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and strangers. Also, with the February caucuses coming up, please go to Bernie Sanders' website to find out how you can help the early caucus states nominate Bernie Sanders. After all, a presidential candidate like Bernie Sanders may come and go like a flicker of light. 

Who will you vote for, and why?


  1. Good read. A bit fantastical in your vision of what a Bernie Presidency could look like, but I do the exact same thing.
    I think what Bernie brings to the table is the ability to envision that again. The hope that it brings to even allow us to see that in our future. It's a far cry from the hate and fear rhetoric of the right and the status quo inevitability of a Clinton presidency.
    I'm white, so I can only speak as a distant observer to the problems POC face in this country. But it seems to me if I were a POC I would not be happy with the status quo at all. Only one candidate represents positive change in this regard. So why is it so difficult to get his message out?

  2. I agree with your comment about Bernie. One possible reason is that mainstream media has been shunning Bernie out so his message doesn't get heard. That makes it seem like Hillary is the only viable option.

    One by one, POC activists and leaders in the community have tossed their hats into the Bernie-camp. More knocking-on-doors, phone banking, and leaders voicing their support for Bernie will help bring awareness to the people who don't have access to Bernie's message. And the fact that Bernie and Hillary will be participating in 4 more debates during less competitive time slots would help spread Bernie's message.