by Vishal Bakshi
Bernie Sanders understands that privilege is not free. College tuition. Healthcare. Citizenship. Quality of life. These privileges have a price tag.
Americans are taught from an early age that our worth is measured in the amount of goods and services we can produce for our fellow consumers. We are taught that in order to produce these goods and services we must develop certain competencies such as reading comprehension, mathematical logic, scientific reasoning, and communication skills. These competencies are aligned with the job requirements established by the industrial revolution when human labor was the cornerstone to technological advancement—but that relationship has drastically evolved into its inverse.
The cost of knowledge has increased with the required years of higher education needed to acquire it. The cost of higher education has increased without an increase in wages to afford it. This has resulted in an achievement gap which is generational and thus systemic amongst the spheres of race, gender, sexuality, religion and class.
Wealth is acquired both from nurture and nature. The American Dream promises wealth for any human with a diligent work ethic and a proficient level of talent, but that deals only with how it can be nurtured; the nature of wealth is that it is accumulated over time.
Let us pause to look at some facts. From the moment America was declared an independent nation:
144 years passed before women were given the right to vote.
188 years passed before discrimination against race, color, religion, sex and nation of origin was outlawed.
239 years passed before gay marriage was legalized.
94% of Fortune 100 CEOs are White.
92% of Fortune 100 CEOs are Male.
The average age of CEOs in the Fortune 100 is 57 years.
The American Dream is not accessible only by merit.
If the balance of privilege amongst the different spheres of society is desired then we have to create legislation to enforce it. This is the purpose of Bernie Sanders’s Democratic Socialist policies—all of which are supported by a majority of Americans.
My support for Bernie Sanders and his Democratic Socialist political platform is not rooted in a fantasy of attaining capitalist privileges for free. I take pride in my work ethic and appreciate the satisfaction of earning my wealth through perseverance. I did, after all, receive my Master’s degree from Univerity os Illinois, generally ranked as the best engineering school in the world, and not an easy program, as you might imagine. My support for Bernie Sanders is a result of my desire to have access to these privileges by earning them solely with the merit of my work, skill and entrepreneurial spirit without facing the systemic classism, racism, and nationalism that our country was built upon throughout its oppressive history. My support for Bernie Sanders’ Democratic Socialist policies is a result of an American economy that requires a six figure salary to cover the costs of the basic necessities of nutritional food, comfortable housing and healthcare for each member of a family.
I will vote for Bernie Sanders because his voting record supports legislation which enables a merit-based access to capitalist privileges: voting Yea for the Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act of 2014, voting Nay for the Financial Asset Purchase Authority and Tax Law Amendments that provided $700 billion to fraudulent banks, voting Nay for the Patriot Act, voting Nay for the Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006 which required voters to provide identification which disproportionately affects minority voters, for his activism in support of the Civil Rights Movement and for his public support of Gay Rights Movements in the 1980s.
I will vote for Bernie Sanders because his policy opposes the generational and monopolistic control that White, Heterosexual Males have on our economy. I will vote for Bernie Sanders because I support my right to pursue wealth without the burden of overcoming systemic and historical oppression.
I will vote for Bernie Sanders because he is the right person for the job, and I sincerely hope you will too.