By Barbara Jezioro
Presidents matter. I’m a 65-year-old woman and I will vote for Bernie Sanders in the New York State Democratic primary. Like Sanders, I grew up in a lower-middle-class family and struggled to improve my life.
For many years now the middle class has been disappearing. People are working longer hours for lower wages and today 58 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent. As Sanders has said, “That’s a rigged economy.” When the top 25 hedge fund managers make enough to pay the salaries of more than 425,000 public school teachers, something is very wrong.
If Americans have been trained to fear the word “socialism,” it seems that Wall Street has not. Some estimate that the 2008 Wall Street bailout cost $16 trillion, a sum greater than the national debt at the time.
In 1999, Sanders warned about the risks of deregulation. He led the fight defending Glass-Steagall provisions, which prevented banks from gambling with customers’ money. Contrast this with what his opponent, Hillary Clinton, was doing, or perhaps I should say, not doing during her eight-year tenure as a senator from New York. According to the Boston Globe, “She took a mostly hands-off approach to Wall Street regulation. With banks enjoying a new era of deregulation that her husband helped create, a neutralized Clinton represented a win for the financial services industry and its perpetual effort to free itself from Washington’s hand.”
Sanders hates big money in politics and the majority of his campaign contributions are small donations. Clinton, on the other hand, received $47.9 million from super PACs in 2015, which included $15 million from Wall Street. In recent years, she was paid $675,000 by Goldman Sachs for just three speeches.
While I would like to see a female president during my lifetime, I would much rather see a strictly regulated Wall Street, so that we don’t have to face the threat of an economic depression. I would also like to see a single-payer health care plan. Currently, we pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Millions of our people have huge deductibles and co-payments. And, yet, per capita, we are spending almost three times more than the British, who cover all their people.
I am tired of endless war. Unlike Clinton, Sanders voted against the senseless Iraq war, yet Clinton boasts of her expertise in foreign affairs. In fact, as secretary of state, she sponsored no peace treaties, no accords and held no summits.
Clinton wants us to strive for less. She opposes tuition-free public college, a single-payer health care system and a federal minimum wage of $15 per hour.
Enough is enough. It’s time to vote for the real progressive, and that person is Bernie Sanders.
Barbara Jezioro, of Buffalo, is an anti-war activist and has spent 15 years in the health care field.