A Vote for Sanders is a Vote for Yourself

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Our hands are raised in the air — we are reaching for help. The strong hands that embrace ours bring comfort; an apathetic pull brings us hope – hope that the cold strong hands will raise us up — liberate us from the crushing gilded mountain resting on our backs.

Instead, they rob what little our now empty hands once clasped and offer the scraps of our labor as tribute to the houses built upon the mountain’s gilded unscalable slopes.

And yet, we cheer on the hands with thundering applause and vivacious affirmation.

We must change.

For this reason, I beseech Chancellor Howard Gillman  to endorse Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for president of the United States on behalf of UC Irvine. Students, staff and faculty — I ask that you lend Bernie Sanders your help and support, and encourage our Chancellor to stand with us in solidarity.

Bernie Sanders — independent, democratic socialist, feminist, civil rights activist, progressive and presidential candidate — has a proven and unwavering record which spans decades. He has consistently rejected austerity for the poor, middle and working classes  while also devoting his life to championing equality and advancement for racial minorities, women, veterans, workers, unions, the LGBT community and the environment long before these groups garnered mainstream support.  

Major components of Sanders’ agenda include eliminating public university tuition costs via the taxation of Wall Street speculation, instituting a fifteen dollar living wage, guaranteeing health care as a basic human right through a single payer health care system based on smaller scale programs in Scandinavian countries and Canada, abolishing private prisons and racist drug laws which disproportionately target blacks and Latinos for commercialization, implementing a progressive tax that ensures everyone pays their fair share, passing legislation guaranteeing equal pay regardless of gender and most importantly — removing money from politics by overturning “Citizen’s United,” a Supreme Court ruling permitting unlimited campaign contributions, via constitutional amendment and appointment of Supreme Court Justices steadfastly opposed to the “Citizen’s” ruling.

Additionally, Senator Sander’s recent address at historically conservative Liberty University has demonstrated an uncommon commitment to uniting people across the ideological spectrum against obvious wrongs — namely that  of the top one half of the top one percent of the richest people in the United States, who own as much wealth as the bottom ninety percent combined.

His challengers, in contrast, have demonstrated that their allegiance and their beliefs, are for sale to the highest bidder.

How can one be the people’s leader when they are indebted to financial entities like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase & Co?

Quite simply, one cannot be a leader by and for the people when they wear the shackles of these institutions, shackles worn by Sanders’ challengers. The United States’ capitalist economy is fundamentally based on the belief that spending money is the only way to make money. It then stands to reason that the very capitalistic financial institutions funding candidates from both the left and right expect a return from their investments. The unpunished crimes committed by Wall Street executives, rampant deregulation of mega banks and mounting tax breaks for the richest people in the country at the expense of the majority, evidence the toxic symbiosis between mega donors and politicians.

Apart from a Bernie Sander’s presidency, there are only two paths for this country:

On one path, nothing will change. We will continue to asphyxiate under an administration which publically champions the people while privately servicing the rich.

On the other path, we will have change. Disastrous          change that will usurp liberty, normalize bigotry, halt social and economic mobility, galvanize racial tensions and divide people based on inflammatory ideological bickering.

Dean of the School of Humanities Georges Van Den Abbeele, Dean of the School of Social Sciences Bill Maurer, Interim Dean of the School of Social Ecology Carroll Seron and Dean of the School of Law Erwin Chemerinsky — you have all done great things to promote peace, equality, compassion, justice and integrity — your leadership has sought and succeeded to instill these values in the young people of UC Irvine. I urge you to honor the examples you have set for your students and encourage Chancellor Gillman to endorse Bernie Sanders.

Students, staff, faculty and anyone with the courage for a political revolution, I urge you to do all that is within your power to help Bernie Sanders.

If it is within your ability, you have a responsibility to register to vote, vote on election days, and educate yourself and others as much as possible.

We must stand in solidarity and urge Chancellor Gillman to endorse Sanders. If he does not, then we must unite and use any non-violent and legal means necessary to ensure that UCI acts in the best interest of students and humanity: petitioning, protesting, volunteering, disseminating information and writing letters. These are the only way we will succeed.

This election stands for more than just politics; it is the people versus the power of money — a battle that will plunge us into oligarchy or rekindle hope for democracy and a more perfect union.

Please consider. A vote against Bernie Sanders is a vote against yourself.


Ryan Toves is a second-year literary journalism major. He can be reached at tovesr@uci.edu.

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