Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

If you like Bernie Sanders, listen to him

(Shannon Broderick/ Daily Collegian)
(Daily Collegian Archives)

In October, House Speaker Paul Ryan hauntingly warned fellow Republicans that a Hillary Clinton victory on Nov. 8 would lead to a disaster appointment of Bernie Sanders into the Senate Budget Committee.

Beneath the giggles of young people is an underlying irony, the Republican fear is perhaps a dream come true for the Democratic Socialists – aside from Sanders being president. Interestingly enough, young people have seemingly started to follow Sanders’ lead in supporting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who is winning by a 28-point margin among voters between 18 to 29-years-old.

Perhaps it had nothing to do with the remark, but the growing message behind it. Many voters supported Sanders because they felt he has never been wrong for 40 years. Why doubt him now? He’s not a “sellout” by a long shot – Sanders knows the leverage he has in Congress is null and void if Trump wins the election on Nov. 8.

I’ve heard progressives claim a Clinton presidency will quell the political revolution Sanders started. While there are a few menial ways this could be true, I ardently disagree with those who think she is not the path of least resistance. In a Trump administration, the middle class will disperse into two sides; either follow the anti-establishment but authoritarian administration, or join the opposition, which will likely be some disheveled moderate Republicans and the establishment Democrats, bitter from a shocking loss. The middle class will lose all leverage and policy will continue sliding away from their interests. Progressivism will fade out of relevance as politics continue to be a circus void of real policy and substance.

Think about how stressful following the election has been. If the Constitution protects us and Trump is unable to endanger the country, his presidency would consist of this: Wild headlines and scandals, social media arguments, blatant prejudice spreading like wildfire every hour of every day, buzzing beneath the droning narratives of Wolf Blitzer and re-enacted by SNL skits making humor by un-ironically replicating recent events.

Even to the progressives who believe Clinton is an unredeemable corporatist who will do nothing but half-measures and pay lip service, there is a silver lining. It’s a silver lining that we built.

The Washington Post reports Sanders is planning on holding Clinton to the Democratic Party platform his delegates helped create at the Democratic National Convention in July. This platform includes “a $15 federal minimum wage, tuition-free public college, an end to ‘mass incarceration’ … aggressive steps to fight climate change” and the “breakup of ‘too big to fail’ banks.”

That’s not all. Sanders also plans to oppose the appointment of “same old, same old Wall Street guys” to important Cabinet positions in the Department of the Treasury, which allows members to extrapolate the financial sector’s influence on policy.

He isn’t alone. Remember when Senator Elizabeth Warren single-handedly took down Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf with the three words “You should resign”? Warren isn’t going anywhere. Do you think she and Sanders would be supporting  Clinton right now if they thought their careers were over?

Her silence about a second term could even mean something bigger. If you ask Robert Reich, leading progressive voice and soothsayer about the risks of income inequality, Warren would be in a great spot to challenge the incumbent “if Hillary isn’t sufficiently progressive and bold during her first term.”

The mistake I see fellow young people make is imagining their vote as a direct endorsement or even a reward for the candidate. Break free from this fallacy. WikiLeaks can show us how Sanders was unfairly treated by the DNC in the primaries, and progressives can be bitter the issues they care about were sparsely debated in the general election. These are valid feelings. But we voters do not vote on behalf of our feelings. We vote on behalf of our interests.

Imagine what will be on the news in 2017. I see Sanders pulling another 10-hour filibuster in the Senate to stop the appointment of a former Goldman Sachs banker from becoming the secretary of treasury. I see Elizabeth Warren demanding the expulsion of pharmaceutical lobbyists on the committee to improve drug price negotiation laws. Most importantly, I see Clinton evolving. I see bills, crafted in part by new and old progressives like Zephyr Teachout and Russ Feingold, arriving at Clinton’s desk and receiving a hearty endorsement from the first woman president of the United States.

I have oft been called optimistic for this belief, but when have progressives not been optimistic? Progressives fought for women’s suffrage, the minimum wage, civil rights and the expansion of education and health care for a century, often at great odds with the status quo. Progressives always win, so let us make the choice that will put us in the best place to get to work.

James Mazarakis is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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    David Hunt 1990Nov 2, 2016 at 9:56 am

    Say, how’s Venezuela working out under “progressive” policies?