My Jewish compatriots should vote for Bernie Sanders. I am not saying this simply due to the fact that Bernie is a Jew. I am saying this because Bernie has the best policies for not all only the Jewish people but also for society as a whole. In the upcoming New York Primary the Jewish vote will be critical and it could very well swing the election.
The reason why Jews should vote for Bernie lies in the fact that he, best out of all of the major Jewish candidates, reflects the values of Tikkun Olam which the Jewish people have cherished. He is an intersectional progressive who has stood up for the disenfranchised. HIs most prominent issue is the economy. Sanders recognizes that the current version of capitalism that the United States practices is inherently and inequitable economic system. He recognizes that the levels of economic inequality that the United States has give far too much power to the rich and powerful.
He is not proposing that we abolish capitalism. He is simply proposing a reform of capitalism that involves the implementation of a welfare state in which there would be a significant amount of investment in the economy in the mode of government transfers and government expenditures. He would pay for this via a fair progressive taxation system in which the wealthy are asked to pay more than they would receive in government programs. Although he would ask all Americans to pay a little more in taxes to fund the programs, the money the average American would receive from these programs would be more than the additional amount they would have to pay in taxes. Sanders wants to responsibly raise the minimum wage over time as well as strengthen unions. He believes in a single payer healthcare system where people are valued above profits. This struggle for economic equality is at the heart of what it means to be a Jewish American. Our ancestors in the early 20th century protested for better working conditions. We formed an essential contingency in the labor movement. Sanders would continue that Jewish tradition of fighting for economic equality, and therefore Jews would do well to vote for him.
However, Sanders also cares about social issues. Although economic issues are clearly his passion he recognizes the need to stand up for minorities. He fully supports LGBT rights, from gay marriage to the right of transgender prisoners to be treated with dignity and respect. He fully supports immigration reform and has even advocated reuniting families who have been separated by deportation. Immigration is especially relevant to Jewish Americans, since we came to this country as refugee immigrants. He has taken a strong stand against Islamophobia; sending out a meme with Arabic text on it through social media is just one example of him doing this. As Jews who faced heavy discrimination in the United States, it is important that we take a stand for our Muslim and brother sisters. We should vote for Sanders. Bernie supports criminal justice reform and racial equality. He wants to abolish mandatory minimums as well as ban discrimination based on criminal history. He (unlike Hillary Clinton) unequivocally opposes the death penalty which has harmed people of color especially. He has stood up for a woman’s right to choose as well as for the right of women to have access to contraceptives. He is firmly against NSA surveillance. Jews have a long history of standing up for minorities, including during the 1960s civil rights movement. Sanders is simply doing this as well and a vote for him is a vote for equality.
Lastly, Sanders has been criticized for his foreign policy. However, this is also a false criticism. While Sanders does not know every nook and cranny of foreign affairs like Clinton does, his plans as a whole make much more sense. Out of the 5 remaining major presidential candidates, Sanders is the only candidate with a reasonable and pragmatic approach to foreign policy which realizes that the United States should not police the world. He has rejected Henry Kissinger and condemned him (unlike Hillary Clinton who uses him as a foreign policy advisor). He voted against both Iraq wars and he has stated very clearly that he is a proponent of the Iran nuclear deal. Some will try to attack him on Israel, but this is an unfair attack. Sanders believes that although Palestinians need to stop terrorism, Israel should only expect our relationship to be positive if Israel treats Palestinians correctly. This is not anti-Israel. It is pro Israel and pro Palestine for Israel can only be stable in the long run if it is not oppressing a whole group of people. I think that in the end Sanders’ policy does not go far enough. He should take a bigger stand against American imperialism, but this even is a step in the right direction. Jews have protested against numerous wars and as a people of peace we should be proponents of Sanders.