The 2020 presidential election is a momentous event that will shape the political landscape of the United States for the coming years. This election has major implications for nearly every aspect of American politics and will drastically affect the U.S.’s approach to countless issues, ranging from climate policy to immigration. In the wake of the 2016 election, many view 2020 as a referendum on President Donald Trump and his vision of the U.S. As both an editorial board and as Americans, we understand the importance of repudiating Trump’s dangerous and divisive rhetoric and promoting our true American strengths, tolerance and diversity. The endorsement process was not easy, as many strong candidates would make excellent presidents and would bring different approaches to the position. However, through a process of extensive deliberation and consideration, the Editorial Board has come to a consensus.
The Michigan Daily Editorial Board is proud to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for the strength of his policies on universal health care, climate change and education, specifically free college and the national forgiveness of student debt.
As an editorial board composed of entirely college students, we understand our ability and responsibility to provide the college perspective on issues of consequence to our country, making our endorsement of Sanders for the 2020 Democratic nomination relevant and crucial. Additionally, this perspective enhances the impact of Sanders’s policies on education, which are best known for proposing a guaranteed federal provision of tuition, as well as debt-free public colleges, universities, HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), minority-serving institutions and trade schools. As students, we find ourselves face-to-face with the extremely high costs of attending university, and we applaud Sanders’s commitment to making higher education in all its forms more accessible for all Americans, while also assisting those who are out of school and suffering from thousands of dollars in student debt. The main argument against these policies is the financial burden placed on taxpayers to enact the plans, and while Sanders has been transparent about the raise in taxes associated with his policies, the slight increase will make American education more accessible and practical, supporting and enhancing future generations of professionals.
We would be remiss to endorse Sanders without voicing support for his signature policy issue: universal single-payer health care. Ever since he first began campaigning for the presidency in 2016, Sanders has focused on the injustices of the U.S.’s highly inequitable health care system. As a solution, Sanders has proposed a single-payer national insurance program which includes zero networks, premiums, deductibles or copays. This health care plan, which would eliminate predatory, profit-driven health insurance companies, is at the core of Sanders’s philosophy of working for the common people and fighting to protect them from wealthy interest groups.
However, health care isn’t important to just Sanders: The public consistently rates health care costs as one of their biggest concerns and his proposal has resonated with many Americans, something that has contributed to Sanders’s success in the 2020 primaries. In 2016, the U.S. spent $9,892 per capita on health care, by far the largest amount of any country in the world and double the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development average. Meanwhile, a survey conducted in January of this year revealed that two-thirds of Americans believe lowering health care costs should be a top priority for the government; the only more pressing concern being protecting the country from terrorism. Furthermore, lowering healthcare costs is of particular concern to Democrats, with 80 percent believing it should be one of the government’s top priorities.
Additionally, Sanders’s push for universal health care is symbolic of his ideological consistency and his impact on the politics of the Democratic Party, both of which are significant. First, Sanders has consistently advocated for universal health care; he introduced a bill supporting it as far back as 2011. Demonstrated by his continual support of Medicare for All, a key part of Sanders’s political brand is the strength and consistency of his convictions. Throughout his political career, Sanders has continually advocated for progressive policies that help the working class and has never compromised these positions for the sake of electability or popularity, something which is key to his authenticity. On top of that, Sanders’s push for universal health care has transformed the Democratic Party and stands as a tribute to his political clout. Beginning with his 2016 campaign, Sanders has moved the Democratic Party to the left on health care, dramatically reshaping the conversation. Sanders’s 2016 primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, ran on the platform of maintaining the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with slight enhancement; back then, Sanders’s plan for universal health care was seen as wildly radical. Today, even Sanders’s most moderate primary opponents, such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor of South Bend, Ind., Pete Buttigieg, have proposed health care plans that would vastly expand upon the ACA as much or more than Clinton’s plan in 2016. This is a tribute to Sanders’s influence over health care policy, and more broadly, the political trajectory of the Democratic Party.
Sanders’s plan for universal health care is an example of the ambitious, progressive policies the U.S. should look to implement going forward as the nation grapples with inflated health care costs and rising inequality. While other candidates have also put forward good policies, none are as thorough or forward-thinking as Sanders’s, and his ideological consistency provides reassurance that his support for the program is sincere.
Finally, something that truly sets Sanders apart from the rest of the Democratic field is his devotion to tackling climate change on a large scale. More so than other candidates, Sanders appears to understand both the catastrophic implications of climate change and the resources that fighting it will require. Sanders’s climate plan, the Green New Deal, is by far the most ambitious of any of the Democratic candidates — it calls for investing $16.3 trillion into sustainability, and was rated the best in the field by both Greenpeace and Data for Progress, two prominent progressive activist groups. Sanders’s plan calls for the creation of 20 million jobs to help solve the climate crisis and offers substantive, practical answers to our crisis while using climate justice as a key point. As college students, Sanders’s devotion to fighting climate change is particularly important to us. Young people are the ones who will be most impacted by climate change, and as a result, it is imperative we begin taking drastic steps to protect our futures. While we acknowledge that Sanders’s Green New Deal is not going to be implemented in its current form, we believe his ambitions meet the severity of the climate crisis and have the potential to reshape our political climate.
The 2020 presidential election is bound to be the most consequential in recent memory. Whoever is sworn in on Jan. 20, 2021, will need to take deliberate and decisive action to address the challenges that face this nation, both foreign and domestic. The Michigan Daily Editorial Board finds hope in the candidacy of Sanders; his commitments to universal health care, accessible higher education for all and climate justice set him apart from the rest of the Democratic field. While we urge the University of Michigan community to vote for Sanders in the Michigan Democratic primary, we recognize that democracy is strongest when everyone’s voices are heard. We encourage all readers to vote on March 10.