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I'm not voting for Bernie Sanders.

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From flickr.com/photos/37996583933@N01/20242531775/: Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders
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Since my friends consider me a "progressive," some of them are surprised when I tell them I'm not voting for Bernie Sanders.

Yes, he's knowledgeable and articulate. He's charismatic in a disheveled sort of way. He comes across as blunt and direct, which certainly is refreshing.

I'm not voting for him. I want something for the United States -- and for the world -- that Bernie Sanders can't give us.

I want to accomplish the changes we need to make, while we still can. And here's a list:

1) Start an all-hands-on-deck mobilization to retool our industrial economy so that we can get to net-zero carbon emissions quickly. This necessarily means killing the fossil fuel industry as well as other industries responsible for cutting down the forests and depleting the oceans. It means reimagining the American dream and creating a new vision of what it means to be wealthy and live well -- a vision that is attractive enough to pull the attention of the whole world's population away from the false lure of "get rich" capitalism. It is a larger undertaking than humankind has ever attempted, and yet it is necessary and urgent. If we don't solve this problem, none of the other "progressive" issues we care about will matter in the slightest. There won't be anyone left to care about them.

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2) Remove the corrupting influence of corporations and enormously wealthy individuals on our governing process. You already know from the Princeton study that Congress as an organization doesn't care what you think and is not responsive to your priorities. We do not have a representative government. Let's stop pretending we do, and instead let's change things up so that we do. Take the money out of elections. End the "revolving door" between government regulators and the industries they regulate. Insist on these things.

3) Reduce the size of the military while pursuing a foreign policy that makes it unnecessary to have a large military. How much do I really need to write about this? We have already squandered fortunes on top of fortunes to safeguard an empire that exists only for the benefit of a very small stratum of society. That money would have bought a lot of library books.

4) Reform our social institutions to acknowledge and correct racial and other inequalities. I don't claim to have a deep understanding of the systemic injustices that are perpetuated by the way we organize our social institutions, but I'm learning. It's pretty clear that we have to abolish for-profit prisons at the very least, and we need to make education accessible to all. We also need to change the nature of policing.

5) Take healthcare decisions out of the hands of corporate accountants. Healthcare isn't free. I get that. But in our country we still spend a big part of every healthcare dollar paying certain people to push paper that states why their corporation is not responsible for paying a given item on a hospital bill, and why somebody else should pay for it instead. Access to healthcare is a right, and the exercise of that right benefits both the recipient and the rest of society. Medical "insurance" companies get in the way of healthcare, and in doing so they perpetuate a different kind of injustice.

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6) Change the rules for Wall Street speculators so their activity doesn't lead to blow-ups of the economy or artificial scarcity. Also build a firewall between banks and traded markets. I think I get to say this because I'm at least marginally part of that industry. The purpose of markets is to get needed goods and services from the people who have them... to the people who need them! At a fair price. Institutionalized speculation does little or nothing to advance that purpose. And seriously, how much value is added to society by a back-and-forth trade of 1,000 crude oil futures contracts within a matter of seconds? None.

Also (7) recognize that we are running out of time to fix these things.

That's why I'm not voting for Bernie Sanders. I'm voting for better policies. I'm voting to change our priorities. The specific candidates I mark off on the ballot will be those who are willing to help lead us in making those changes. The two most important words in this paragraph are not "Bernie" and "Sanders." They are "lead" and "change."

Neither Clinton nor Sanders is going to make these things happen. Only a great number of motivated, mobilized citizens working together can make these things happen. The work will have to be done inside and outside of government, as well as inside and outside of the major political parties. A big part of the work, especially on the net-zero carbon front, must take place in our own communities just as much as it takes place in Washington D.C. and in the United Nations.

So I'm not voting for Bernie Sanders, and I'm also not voting against Hillary Clinton. Not yet. But as of this writing, Sanders appears to be the only presidential candidate who comes close to acknowledging the magnitude of the challenges we face and the nature of the changes that will be necessary to address them. "We need a political revolution in this country." And he's pretty long on the specifics.

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