Bernie Sanders in Amherst, Mass. on January 2, 2016

“Feelin’ the Bern” is about more than Bernie Sanders

Don’t let conservatives use Bernie Sanders to stop us from protecting our community.

Photo: Bernie Sanders at a rally in January 2016.
(Zac Bears/The Double Standard)

This post is a response to “I’m A Millennial, But I’m Not Feelin’ The Bern” by Delaney Planka.

As I was perusing Facebook recently, I saw a friend who had posted an article about Bernie Sanders. Initially, its title made me think that it was another left-leaning young person, like me, who had qualms about Sanders and his policies. But I found that the article isn’t really about Sanders at all.

Planka’s article is just an argument against government and against all of us coming together to solve our nation’s problems, like helping those people who are suffering because of bad government and bad business. First off, I want to make it clear that I don’t think Bernie is the only answer, but this article isn’t so much about Bernie as it is about Republican individualist solutions for government. Second, her argument is a standard conservative attack against solidarity and collective responsibility.

She asserts that Bernie’s plan would increase taxes so much that families wouldn’t even be able to go out to dinner.

Yes, if Bernie’s health care proposal was fully implemented, taxes would go up by a bit for most people (and a lot for the rich), but no one would have to spend money out of their pocket on copays, premiums, deductibles, or anything else to get good health care and stay healthy. That’s good for businesses because it means fewer sick days and lower turnover. No one would have to go into tens of thousands of dollars in student debt to get a degree from a public university. That’s good for society because indebted workers are less innovative workers.

As Planka writes it, a $15 minimum wage is unfair because costs are different around the country.

Yes, a $15 minimum wage would be worth more in rural Oklahoma than it is in New York City. But I think we all know that no matter where you live $10 an hour for 40 hours a week isn’t enough to afford a home on your own or pay for food for your kids.

“We seem to have forgotten about the Red Scare,” Planka writes, seemingly asserting that McCarthyism and fear should be guiding how people make political choices.

No, America should never again follow the lessons of the “Red Scare,” which was literally a propaganda campaign, because it doesn’t teach us about democratic socialism. Germany is a democratic socialist country. They have 100 million people, a vibrant economy, and manage to have good health care for everyone and prevent homelessness. They’re still innovating and have a huge manufacturing industry that makes hundreds of billions of dollars in products every year.

Disturbingly, Planka argues that “fairness” really means “forget(ting) about individualism.”

Yes, individualism can be good. But rabid individualism with no concern for your community and the people around you isn’t. Better health care for everyone and affordable higher education for everyone isn’t going to stop Apple from innovating.

I’m not saying Bernie is the only answer. And I understand why people have problems with him. He often sounds like a one-trick pony, and he might not be as good of a Commander-in-Chief as he would be on advocating for working families. But Planka’s argument doesn’t convince me, and it shouldn’t convince anyone who thinks that we all need to come together and do more for the people who are struggling in this country.

The rich have done really really well for the past 30 years. They have made trillions of dollars while the rest of us haven’t done as well. They can pay it forward and come together with all of us to make sure that America lives up to its values of fairness and justice for everyone.

Again, that doesn’t mean you should have to support Bernie, but Planka’s article isn’t anti-Bernie as much as it is anti-Democrat, anti-government, and anti-collective responsibility. America doesn’t need more Reagan and Bush individualism.

People are hurting and we need to come together.

Zac Bears can be reached at zac@dblstand.com.

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