Michael Ryan, editorial page editor of The Augusta Chronicle, recently wrote that Americans should be “alarmed” that Sen. Bernie Sanders nearly earned the Democratic nomination for president. The Independent senator from a small state with little name recognition, had no campaign money, no political organization but somehow challenged the entire Democratic Party establishment.
“Yet despite all that -- and despite being a self-avowed socialist -- his revolution nearly took hold: He earned 43 percent of the vote in the 2016 Democratic primary,” Ryan wrote. Ryan’s article, published in Feb. 5, 2017, in Crossroads for America, an insert with The Topeka Capital-Journal, chastised America’s young people for being cynical about democracy.
Ryan has Bernie Sanders all wrong. Ryan is upset our country produced a man like Sanders. I, on the other hand, am grateful our democracy produced a man like Sanders. When I saw all the young people engaged in a speech by Sanders at Topeka High School on Saturday, I could see he resonated with them, students felt a kinship with Bernie.
Why? Because Bernie Sanders is one of the few leading politicians actually talking about issues that matter to young people: How to pay for college? Tuition is rising faster than the rate of inflation, making it difficult for youth to pay for college. Student loan debts are at crisis level. Youth are worried about borrowing too much money for college.
If a young person has the ability to go to college, he should be able to go, Sanders said.
Bernie Sanders’ speech on Feb. 25, 2017, was filled with observations about our democracy. Many people have struggled and died for our democracy, he said. At one time, women were not allowed to vote or serve in public office. Women suffragists fought for the right to vote and hold office. Democracy is not something that is freely given.
“You got to stand up and fight for it,” Sanders said.
President Donald Trump has made a commitment to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act. That will remove 20 million people from access to health care, Sanders said. The Affordable Health Care Act did not penalize people for pre-existing conditions, but if the law is repealed, a person with a pre-existing condition may be denied coverage. That will affect a lot of people, Sanders said.
Canada, Germany and most European countries provide free health care, Sanders said. In Germany, college tuition is free for students.
Sanders said there is a huge divide between the wealthy and the poor in America. The top 1/10th of 1 percent own almost as much as the bottom 90 percent of people in America.
Is it morale that so few have so much and so many have so little?” Sanders asked.
We need these kinds of discussions, he said. He encouraged young people to get involved in elections, get behind good candidates or run for office yourself.
“Your job is to sustain and improve that democracy,” Sanders said.
When I talked to journalist Adam Cole, a senior at Topeka High School, he was so excited about covering Bernie Sanders. He said he had shook the senator’s hand and joked that he wasn’t going to wash his hand because he had been touched by greatness.
Seeing a fired up youth like Adam Cole is promising. Thank you Bernie Sanders for coming to Topeka and inspiring our youth to get involved.
Perhaps if we were to get more youth involved, we could change the direction of our country. Right now, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Let’s find a way to build up the poor and the middle class. Democracy is not just for the rich and landed classes of people. It’s for everybody.