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“Bernie or Bust” Batesies Aren’t Being as Bold as They Believe

Many Bates students I speak with are at least passively supporting Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for the 2020 Democratic nomination for President. Unfortunately, most of those students barely seem to know the names of the other candidates running. At the same time, my peers try to argue for Sanders’ campaign as if they are experts on his every policy and past position–they’re usually not. When did collegiate political discourse become an exercise in reciting lines from a viral video on Imgur? Batesies–especially white, male Batesies–are supporting Bernie without actually comparing his positions to those of other candidates or thinking critically about why they’re supporting him.

My personal philosophy when it comes to politics usually amounts to “follow the lead of women of color.” The voter turnout of women of color, and especially of black women, has been responsible for recent Democratic electoral successes from AOC to Stacey Abrams’ near win to Doug Jones’ Alabama Senate victory. Further, while the voices of women of color are often the most marginalized, they often have intense resilience and strength, and engage in grassroots activism and organizing at every level, despite challenges. I am certainly more inspired by anti-racist leaders like Alicia Garza and Tarana Burke than by the rhetoric employed by Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, and others.So when AOC and Ilhan Omar endorsed Bernie this week, I reflected on the Vermont Senator’s candidacy with deep respect. I do not question that Bernie has inspired countless voters and brought attention to issues that are vital to public discourse. I consider his 2016 candidacy groundbreaking and successful in how it affected the Democratic party and youth around the country.

However. This election is in 2020–there are a lot more candidates than in 2016. Things have changed, and the way you think about politics needs to have changed too. I urge students to look beyond social media sites and news headlines and read the candidates’ positions for themselves. 

For example–we have had years of gun violence that the sitting President only emboldens. And as college students, many of us feel immediately threatened by this epidemic: police, strangers, and even our peers are untrustworthy and potentially dangerous when guns are on hand. This is an issue that I know many of my Bernie-loving friends care deeply about, and they sure love to talk about how Bernie has been saying the same things since the ’60s, but Bernie voted against universal background checks in 1993 and for a bill that exonerates gun manufacturers from lawsuits in 2003 and 2005. Even today, the so-called “details” of Bernie’s gun policy plan consist of six bullet points, none of which are substantive. When compared to Beto or Julián Castro, who have extensive and detailed gun control strategies, Bernie looks like he doesn’t consider gun violence a real issue.

Oh, and here’s the full text of Bernie Sanders’ plan to address police violence: “Bring about major police department reform.” Look, I’m no expert, but I don’t think that qualifies as a plan. And Bernie couldn’t be bothered to show up to either forum on LGBTQ+ issues hosted this fall (his plans for queer equality are similarly limited to a few bullet points). Bernie might have shown up to march in the ’60s, but is he showing up for queer folks and folks of color today?

I’m looking beyond the lines I’ve heard a thousand times, and the ranting against the capitalist machine that was so appealing a few years ago. It’s not novel to like Bernie anymore–sticking with him without carefully considering your reasons shows a lack of critical thinking and present-day engagement.

For me, I’m paying attention to leaders like Blair Imani, Ashlee Marie Preston, Angelica Ross, and Alma Adams. I’m watching to see what Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley have to say about the endorsements of their squad-mates. I’m listening for the voices of Maxine Waters, Stacey Abrams, Deb Halaand, and Tammy Duckworth. I’m excited about the candidates of color who are bringing attention to things Bernie and Hillary never thought of in 2016. And I’m asking my peers (especially those who aren’t white boys) who’s inspiring them today.

Batesies, take your opinions, your support, and your vote seriously. Make sure you’re supporting something of substance, beyond angry rhetoric. Do your research. If Bernie’s still your guy, come convince me. Maybe we can engage a few more potential voters together.

Justice Geddes
Layout Editor

3 Replies to ““Bernie or Bust” Batesies Aren’t Being as Bold as They Believe

  1. Comprehensive explanation of Bernie’s criminal justice platform (including:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/cs1wyx/sanders_unveils_plan_to_end_cash_bail_ban_private/?st=k25h19tu&sh=b81cfb19

    Transform the Way We Police Communities
    Ensure Law Enforcement Accountability and Robust Oversight:
    Rescind former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ guidance on consent decrees.
    Revitalize the use of Department of Justice investigations, consent decrees, and federal lawsuits to address systemic constitutional violations by police departments.
    Ensure accountability, strict guidelines and independent oversight for all federal funds used by police departments.
    End federal programs that provide military equipment to local police forces.
    Create a federally managed database of police use of deadly force.
    Provide grants for states and cities to establish civilian oversight agencies with enforceable accountability mechanisms.
    Establish federal standards for the use of body cameras, including establishing third-party agencies to oversee the storage and release of police videos.
    Mandate criminal liability for civil rights violations resulting from police misconduct.
    Limit the use of “qualified immunity” to address the lack of criminal liability for civil rights violations resulting from police misconduct.
    Conduct a U.S. Attorney General’s investigation whenever someone is killed in police custody.
    Establish a federal no-call policy, including a registry of disreputable federal law enforcement officers, so testimony from untrustworthy sources does not lead to criminal convictions. Provide financial support to pilot local and state level no-call lists.
    Ban the use of facial recognition software for policing.
    Provide More Support to Police Officers and Create A Robust Non-Law Enforcement Alternative Response System:
    Establish national standards for use of force by police that emphasize de-escalation.
    Require and fund police officer training on implicit bias (to include biases based on race, gender, sexual orientation and identity, religion, ethnicity and class), cultural competency, de-escalation, crisis intervention, adolescent development, and how to interact with people with mental and physical disabilities. We will ensure that training is conducted in a meaningful way with strict independent oversight and enforceable guidelines.
    Ban the practice of any law enforcement agency benefiting from civil asset forfeiture. Limit or eliminate federal criminal justice funding for any state or locality that does not comply.
    Provide funding to states and municipalities to create civilian corps of unarmed first responders, such as social workers, EMTs, and trained mental health professionals, who can handle order maintenance violations, mental health emergencies, and low-level conflicts outside the criminal justice system, freeing police officers to concentrate on the most serious crimes.
    Incentivize access to counseling and mental health services for officers.
    Diversify police forces and academies and incentivize officers to live and work in the communities they serve.

  2. The author is giving priority of identity politics over the policies NEEDED if humans are to survive, just as the neo-liberal elites and their funders in the Democratic Party would like.

    I don’t know who wrote the headline, but the article has NOTHING to do, one way or another, with Bernie or Bust. It’s about slamming Bernie’s supporters whether they are Bernie or Bust or not. You know, the way MSDNC and CNN has been doing for months now.

    The comment above debunks one claim by Geddes, and here’s another set of facts. Climate change requires a green revolution which requires a political revolution if the human race is to survive. That is a need. Needs trump the wants of identity politics EVERY TIME!!

    The Sanders supporters of all ages, who are demanding Bernie (Bernie or Bust), are the adults in the room.
    https://www.newsweek.com/bernie-bust-warningignore-it-trump-wins-opinion-1467225

  3. Justice –

    Thanks for your kind words. I hope those of us you look to in making your decision get it right.

    Absolutely,
    Alma

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