by Rona Fried
Last week, at a crucial point in his campaign, Bernie Sanders took a day to fly to Rome and speak at a conference at the Vatican. Although he met Pope Francis, no photos were given to the press, and when reporters asked why, Bernie said: because I didn’t want it turned into a political event.
That tells you a lot about who Bernie Sanders is.
As does the reason Bernie was invited to speak: he is the only US presidential candidate who shows deep interest in the teachings of Pope Francis, explained Bishop Marcelo Sanchez.
While Bernie’s vision and his nerve to champion big goals is constantly questioned by his opponent and the press, the facts are that Americans want what he proposes:
- 73% want the wealthiest to pay more in taxes
- 66% want large corporations to pay their fair share in taxes
- 59% support tuition-free public college
- 55% support universal health care
In my opinion, skepticism toward Bernie’s "realism" and "practicality" says more about the status of our democracy than about him. Since Reagan entered office and the Koch Brothers began dumping money in earnest to influence us, our country has been moving to the right.
We need to open our eyes again to what is possible.
Our country needs fundamental change, not change around the edges. It is true that our economy is more and more rigged as our politics becomes more corrupt. And it is true that the only way out is for Americans to stand up en masse and to have a President (and hopefully a Congress) that supports their efforts to turn this situation around.
In Europe, Bernie’s views are mainstream. He arrived in Italy to applause and adulation.
During his Vatican speech, Bernie said:
"Some might feel it is hopeless to fight the economic juggernaut, that once the market economy escaped the boundaries of morality it would be impossible to bring the economy back under the dictates of morality and the common good. I am told time and time again by the rich and powerful, and the mainstream media that represent them, that we should be "practical," that we should accept the status quo; that a truly moral economy is beyond our reach. Yet Pope Francis himself is surely the world’s greatest demonstration against such a surrender to despair and cynicism. He has opened the eyes of the world once again to the claims of mercy, justice and the possibilities of a better world. He is inspiring the world to find a new global consensus for our common home."
"The challenges facing our planet are not mainly technological or even financial, because as a world we are rich enough to increase our investments in skills, infrastructure, and technological know-how to meet our needs and to protect the planet. Our challenge is mostly a moral one, to redirect our efforts and vision to the common good."
On Climate Change & Environment
So far, we are taking Clinton’s approach. We are moving forward incrementally and science is clear: it is not getting us where we need to be. Ecosystems are crashing around the world, we’re in the midst of the 6th mass extinction, and we have a 50/50 chance of keeping global temperature rise to 2°C.
While Clinton supports fracking as a transition fuel, study after study shows we can get to 100% renewable energy without it … and fast. And studies show that because of fracking, we’re stoking climate change through spiking methane emissions.
As Secretary of State, Clinton promoted fracking and GMO agriculture across the world, and basically approved the Keystone Pipeline. To her credit, Clinton also formed an international coalition to address short-term climate forcers, which includes methane.
Instead, Sanders is a co-sponsor of the Keep It In the Ground bill, which would put an end to extracting fossil fuels from public lands. He supports organic agriculture, another proven way to quickly bring down emissions, while curbing dangerous herbicides and pesticides.
Bernie is right: we need "wartime level mobilization" NOW to get off fossil fuels – an immediate end to subsidies, a carbon tax, and an all-out shift to clean energy. That will, by the way, create many millions of jobs and the healthy, prosperous world we all want to live in.
The question isn’t about Bernie’s vision, it’s about ours.
Do WE have the vision to see that we can live in a world that cherishes nature, that runs on clean energy, and where businesses care about people and the planet? Or is that too pie in the sky for us? If it is, the Koch Bros et al. have us exactly where they want us.