Nick Paray | firstname.lastname@example.org
College students across America are “feeling the Bern” as the primaries for the 2016 election approach. The self-described Democratic-socialist senator from Vermont has gained waves of support since his campaign announcement this May.
Much of his support seems to be centralized in the youngest voting demographic, college students. Buzzwords like “free college,” “decent paying jobs,” “strong middle class,” “reforming Wall-Street,” and not to mention the plethora of social issues, all seem to resonate with this demographic.
His general support rests on his likeability, strong platform, and the fact that he’s not Hillary Clinton. Despite high initial support, Clinton’s favorability has steadily decreased by over a third, in the wake of the scandals with Benghazi and her emails. Sanders is the more approachable of the two frontrunners; he seems compassionate and benevolent, and he’s gaining headway in the race because of that.
According to Bucknell first-year and Bernie Sanders supporter Alexis Brito, what attracts him to Sanders is “his socialist rooted platform for economic and social change.” Brito believes that free public college will be a catalyst for bringing the lower class out of poverty, by providing them with educational opportunities, leading to higher paying jobs. He also believes that Sanders will give minorities a voice, given his extensive history with championing civil rights. What attracts him most to Sanders is his authentic personality, and many of the Keynesian economic programs designed to help minorities and the poor break out of the cycle of poverty.
When asked how the government would pay for these programs, he responded that, to his knowledge, raising taxes on big business and the rich, and cutting military spending would pay for these programs. This also seems to be the only response from Sanders supporters and even Sanders himself, and they like to leave it at that, without delving into the logistics of the funding.
Adding up all the programs and promises, Sanders proposed plan would cost taxpayers $18 trillion over a ten-year period. This number has been thrown out in the media quite often with some calling it absurd, given the current debt climate, and others touting its potential ability to save the taxpayers money in the long run.
"The despotism of a majority can be as oppressive as a single authoritarian."
Members of Sander’s staff have so far substantively outlined a tax increase that would account for $6.5 trillion over the ten-year period. This leaves $11.5 trillion unaccounted for, though an aide for Sanders said additional tax proposals would pay for some, or all, of the health care plan.
These comments seem ambiguous, and they are, because simply taxing the rich and cutting military spending cannot pay for this plan, as much as his campaign would like voters to believe.
In the hypothetical, cutting all military spending and taxing all earning above $1 million at a 100 percent rate, would only bring in $12 trillion over ten years, still $6 trillion away from the necessary funding.
A more detailed plan may be released from Sanders in the future, but as of now, this plan seems like a fantasy, with all facts and economic factors pointing against the possibility of funding these ambitious programs.
Spending aside, many of these issues in Sander’s platform undoubtedly need to be addressed. Student loans and college tuition have increased to enormous levels, placing considerable burdens on students and their parents to pay for college; the economic disparity between the wealthy and the poor is beginning to squeeze the middle class out of existence; and, the healthcare system requires immediate attention to ensure sustainability.
Endless spending and government programs, however, does not solve these problems. The government needs to put the power back in the hands of the people and give them a chance to succeed—to succeed on their own.
The close ties between government and big business, through lobbying or other ventures, provides a recipe for disaster, and is not true capitalism. Promoting small business, not big business, will allow the middle class to redevelop and provide a more sustainable economic system.
Rather than straying to the progressive policies that so many countries have endeavored to, America must stand strong and fight for the values that made this country great. Democratic Socialism doesn’t align with the essence of America, because the despotism of a majority can be as oppressive as a single authoritarian.