Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders made his rounds on Tuesday at Penn State University. He was noticeably absent from his New York Democratic Primary campaign operation, where he lost hours later to frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Sanders toured downtown State College and even ate at a local Indian restaurant.

At around 8am in the morning, the most loyal Sanders supporters began camping outside Rec Hall to hear the leader of the “political revolution” speak. It was clear that most of the people who waited in line were feeling the Bern, but as a right-leaning centrist, I was only Berning up under the hot sun for two and half hours.

While I am a registered Republican, I walked into the rally with an open mind hoping to learn more about Sanders’s policies, listen to some of his supporters, and get a better feel for why Sanders is so popular among members of my generation.

At a quarter after 7pm, Sanders finally took the stage on the Rec Hall floor with a roar of applause and people chanting, “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie.” Unfortunately, while the room was full of his enthusiasm, the policies he laid out remained deficient of any substance, detail, or plan of action.

Bernie Sanders Penn State

Source: Antonella Crescimbeni, The Daily Collegian

During the rally, Sanders described his ideas as “big ideas”. They clearly are. Universal healthcare, free public college education, expanded social security, a $15 minimum wage, and of course breaking up the big banks are all “big ideas”. But they will only remain “ideas” and not solutions until Sanders provides a feasible plan for paying for them. Ok, sure, we’ll raise taxes on the 1% and everyone else below them, but even Sanders’s own supporters aren’t willing to pay enough to cover the things he wants.

Enter the next suppressors of the “political revolution”: Congress. At his rally at Penn State, during debates, and at town halls, Sanders fails to ever explain to his supporters how he will get his tax plan passed by a Republican held Congress. Even the slightest increase in taxes would fail instantly and the last time I checked we still have three branches of government. Sanders’s tax plan also remains unsettling among his Democratic colleagues. Even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, explained in a press conference that, “We’re not running on any platform of raising taxes.”

Many economists and health policy experts have also called into question the feasibility of Sanders’s plans. Paul Krugman, a left-leaning Nobel Prize-winning economist and NY Times Op-Ed columnist, said that Sanders’s single-payer healthcare plan, “Was low-balling costs in an effort to obscure how hard making such a plan would be, and how many currently well-insured people would end up being losers.” It doesn’t end there. Healthcare policy expert and single-payer healthcare plan supporter Kenneth Thorpe, who was even retained by Sanders’s home state legislature twice, called into question Sanders’s idealistic healthcare plan. Thorpe explains in his analysis that Sanders’s single-payer healthcare plan would not only require a 20% hike in taxes, but also leave 71% of families worse off even after taking into account the reduced cost of healthcare and increase in taxes. The Sanders campaign could only respond by calling out Thorpe’s plan as a “total hatchet job.”

Sanders’s biggest appeal among my fellow classmates by far is his free public college education for all plan. We’re all students. Most of us have some form of college debt. We jump at the opportunity to have anything free. But once again, at Sanders’s rallies he never says how we’re going to feasibly pay for it and how we’re all going to get free public college education. His College for All Act relies on a 2-for-1 federal matching program providing that states foot about 33% of the bill and the government pays for the rest. With more and more states reducing funding to higher education, his plan is a non-starter. At best, only a couple states will indulge in Sanders’s dream, but that isn’t “college for all” is it?

Enough is enough. No Republican will pass any of Sanders’s socialist-driven plans. Most Democrats won’t get on board either. Left-leaning economists and policy experts call into question the feasibility of his plans. That leaves us with his supporters, mostly college students – my fellow Penn Staters. The only thing Bernie Sanders was selling during his rally was fiction, hopes, and dreams. Perhaps he is leaving out the painful details and the hard truth on purpose, hoping to energize the same base that Barack Obama did 8 years ago. The only difference was that Obama had the details. He had a plan. Sanders’s plan is A Future to Hope and Dream About rather than one to “Believe In.”

 


If you have any comments about the Bernie Sanders rally, the Presidential race, or want to drop me line, feel free to comment below, hit me up on Facebook, or give me a shoutout on Twitter at @patrickcines. If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it!

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Mats Gausdal says:

    You have clearly misunderstood his campaign. His movement is about imagining the unimaginable. Throughout history, time after time, it’s been proven that we can achieve the unimaginable. We can now too because progress is infinite.

    • Patrick says:

      I get that thinking big is the goal of his campaign, but I simply feel that he’s pulling a bait-and-switch on his supporters by promising them things that aren’t attainable. It’s important to dream and look to the future, but within reason and a lens of possibility.

      • Student says:

        Hi Patrick,

        I can understand where you’re coming from; I see myself as a centrist who tends left and though I agree to an extent with policies from 3 of the 5 major candidates, if I were to vote today, I would probably choose Mr. Sanders because as you point out, he has clear goals and credibility that he believes in those goals based on his consistency over the years. As for bait-and-switch, you’re absolutely right, but I don’t think any other candidate can offer anything more. With the size of our government, a president doesn’t really have the power to enact big plans and while I find that frustrating when it’s blocking a president I agree with, it’s equally comforting when there is a president with whom I disagree. That said, the plausibility of the plans of the candidates is not a large factor in my book for determining the president, certainly not as much as a moral compass and an ability to change minds. Though I would not cut down any of the other candidates, Sanders has been portrayed as caring about people on a more basic level than others. (I try to read an even distribution of bias right, left, and otherwise, but I of course have not read every article so let me know if you disagree) As for rhetoric, Mr. Sanders has had a surprising impact on this election simply proven by the fact that he is still in it for the time being. Policies aside, not much gets done at the federal level compared to state and local governments and a candidate who has the power to make a large group of people think in a new way and involve them in government and discussion has the indirect affect of swaying local government, enacting stepping stone policies through supporters who find themselves caring temporarily would not engage in government at all; voting is one thing, taking action with a local goal in mind is quite another. In this regard, Sanders holds more potential power than candidates with less extreme policies. No, Sanders may not have influence over US economics within the next 15 years (that’s fine, I wouldn’t necessarily agree with his economic policies entirely if they were feasible), but I think we would start to see small changes at the local scale toward social, local economic, and environmental progress (progress of course depends on perspective, but socially and environmentally, I tend more left). I think hope of political engagement and ethical considerations provide some portion of the draw toward Sanders’ platform. A future to believe in does not mean change will happen quickly or even that a goal set now will ever be reached, but rather we the people have the power to change our local communities and it will take constant action to do so. [As a side note, an election isn’t a game where you pick a chosen one and wish them well, it involves action after the fact inspired by the candidate who can provide the motivation for the people to do the work of activating the policies they want.] Let me know your thoughts.

      • Jason says:

        Couldn’t these unattainable promises only be unattainable in the present? I mean his plans and these dreams still represent an America without monetary discrimination and the hopes to curb the ever growing wage gap. I mean it only takes one nudge in the right direction to get the ball rolling, and despite all the hurdles and the logistical warzone Bernie’s plans may create, I think we would at least be headed for a better tomorrow.

  • Joe Braxton says:

    I try to stay pretty middle of the road on politics and be open to ideas from both sides of the isle. That said, you could easily write this exact same article for any of the candidates if you just change some of the policies and talking points. Especially the Republican party’s front-runner and his big wall. All of it is big ideas with very little substance, but that’s what you get when the nation is a bunch of retards that will elect whomever panders best to them, be it Sanders, Trump, Cruz, or Clinton.

  • Jeff says:

    Finally, someone who sees Sanders for who he really is. Not another dumb college student thinking anything is possible if he is elected. We need someone with an understanding of how the real government operates, not someone being portrayed like the tooth fairy. While I admire Sander’s background, and dedication; that does not make him qualified to be the President.

  • Amy Ingram says:

    I like your perspective on the subject, but I think it’s important to include his proposal to fund some of his programs with a tax on financial speculation. Whether this is feasible or not is another question, but when discussing how he has “no plan” to follow through on his proposals, this is an important detail to miss, especially since he mentioned it several times. Additionally, I’d like to hear some of your thoughts on his sensitivity to structural issues such as for-profit prisons, diversity, and the environment. As an aside, I was also disappointed in his lack of detail on many of those issues.

  • Michael says:

    Not persuasive. Everything you wrote in this article could be applied with equal force to Hillary Clinton’s “plans” as well. Do you actually think Hillary’s college affordability plan will pass a GOP controlled Congress? Of course it won’t. But if we’re going to set policy based on what the most pro-corporate, reactionary Congress will pass, we won’t get anywhere.

    Have you noticed that we now live in a country where cutting taxes on the super rich, subsidizing corporations, bailing out Wall Street, or going to war doesn’t need to be paid for, but paying for college tuition for students or providing healthcare or early childhood education to all Americans does. If you propose a massive tax cut and claim it will pay for itself, you’re considered a serious person in Washington; but if you propose reducing the debt burden on students without a line by line accounting of how it’s paid for, you’re fundamentally not serious (or worse).

    The funny thing is, Bernie’s plans are totally paid for. His free college tuition plan is paid for by something called a “Toobin Tax,” named after Nobel Prize Winning economist Jeffrey Toobin, who proposed an infinitesimally small tax on financial transactions that would generate massive revenue over time. Would Paul Ryan’s Congress pass such a tax? Of course not — but they won’t pass any of Hillary’s progressive policies either. So we either need to keep fighting or abandon progressive policies that benefit students and workers.

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