You are about to read a three word admission that isn’t always received especially well on a college campus- I’m a Republican. Perhaps it’s a betrayal of sorts to my age. After all, as a college student, I’m supposed to be all for radical reform, upheavals of powerful regimes, and loud dissent, or something like that. Instead, I’ve set upon a comparatively boring path that instead endorses free enterprise, individual rights, and personal accountability. I’m a gun owner, I drive an old pickup truck, I read the Wall Street Journal every morning, and I’m voting for Bernie Sanders.
Yes, you read that last part correctly. Though I disagree vehemently with a number of his specific policy proposals, I genuinely believe him to be the best choice of the field. In fact, I’d hoped he would run even before he had hinted at the idea himself. Disagreements aside, I’ve long been a fan of Bernie, in large part because of his strength of conviction. Almost nobody else in American politics has had the same beliefs, so consistently, for so long. He opposed the Defense of Marriage act in 1996, effectively taking a stance in favor of gay marriage. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, waited until 2013 to support gay marriage, by which time it was very much a politically safe decision. (For what it’s worth, as a Republican I believe that the government should have a minimal role in interpersonal unions, and thus should not dictate which kinds can and cannot be recognized.) Indeed, Bernie Sanders might just be the only candidate of principle in the entire race. Try as I might, I can’t find another candidate, Republican or Democratic, who has been so consistent in his values and beliefs.
Sanders identifies as a Socialist, and at first this might seem unsettling to those of us to the right of center. However, his brand of Socialism, if he really must call it that, is far closer to the moderate policies enacted by the Eisenhower administration than to the radical overreach that has characterized socialism historically. His background representing residents of a rural state keep in touch with the varying lifestyles of conservative Americans. Unlike Hillary Clinton or even Republican contender Chris Christie, Sanders has represented farmers and hunters, as well as urbanites and college students. He, unlike anybody else in the field at the moment, has his thumb on the pulse of the country. He understands the frustration faced by working class Americans, appreciates the vast multitude of differing lifestyles and realities in this country, and really means every word he says on the topic. It’s been decades since we’ve had a leader like this in the oval office, and I’m proud to do my part to support another one. Democrat, Republican, or Socialist, Sanders is American in a very important, very fundamental way. Clinton and her supporters are quick to label Sanders unelectable, too far to the left to win a general election. I can’t necessarily speak with any expertise as to this claim on a national level, but I can say, as a Republican, that he has my vote.