Bernie is different, and that’s a good thing

Jaret Hughes is a senior political science and economics double major. He is the president of Xavier Socialists and a guest writer for the Newswire from Canton, Ohio.

 As we near 2020, politics, and especially the presidency, are weighing heavily on our minds. Perhaps the most common sentiment among Americans, and even young Americans, is “Oh no, this again.”

Every four years (though the time between elections feels smaller and smaller every year) we beat the war drums of the two Americas, the blue states and the red states, in an attempt to get our candidate elected president. This divide, or the polarization that so many deride as the root cause of our country’s problems, is no new thing. If anyone is serious about ending it and fundamentally reshaping American politics as we know it, they must consider the only candidate capable of bringing together Americans of all walks of life and must consider the movement from which that candidate comes.

There is only one candidate who can create real and lasting change in American politics, economics and culture: Bernie Sanders.

You may be thinking, “Wait, I thought Bernie was a radical socialist Democrat. How can he bridge the divide?” Unfortunately, this is the line that has been pushed since Bernie came to the national spotlight in 2016. The idea that Bernie is a factional leader of a small number of the most radical Democrats has been used by his opponents to cast him and his project in a bad light. The reality is that Bernie was and is the most popular politician in America, and his policies and movement have the broad support of more than two-thirds of the American population, according to The Hill. Two-thirds! There has not been two-thirds support for anything in American politics in the past 50 years.

Not only do his policies have the largest base of support of any other candidate, Republican or Democrat, Bernie also has the largest base of potential supporters of any candidate, Republican or Democrat.

Bernie has chosen to run as a Democrat, but has spent all his life a staunch independent, aware that the American people are not interested in playing political games for one side or the other. Instead, Americans are trying to get the healthcare they need without going into debt, trying to make ends meet and survive until the next paycheck, and trying to get a leg up on life with a college education without subjecting themselves to debt collectors for the rest of their lives. Bernie calls these ideas and policies “democratic socialism.”

At its core, democratic socialism is the political form of the Jesuit creed of “Men and Women for and with others.” It is politics that serve to put humans and human needs first, rather than corporations or private profit. Socialists realize the immense burdens placed on everyday people by a system that serves to create massive amounts of wealth for those who already have it, and instead seek to lift those burdens and let people enjoy together in the wealth we have collectively made. This message is for anyone who works for a living or for anyone who has to make sure they time their grocery trips just right so they actually have enough money to make it. It is for students who are getting crushed under loan debt for having the audacity to want to get an education. It is for anyone and everyone.

Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who speaks in these human terms, and his campaign is the only one that seeks to lift people up and live out our Jesuit ideals here at Xavier of “Men and Women for and with others.” Democratic socialism, the politics of people and not profits, is the only way that we can bridge our ever-widening divide.