Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during the his rally at the Field House on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. Sanders still remains just slightly under fellow Democrat Hilary Clinton in the polls.  (The Daily Iowan/Valerie Burke)
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during the his rally at the Field House on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. Sanders still remains just slightly under fellow Democrat Hilary Clinton in the polls. (The Daily Iowan/Valerie Burke)

Editorial board endorsement: Sanders has the potential to change America’s course

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In the Daily Iowan Editorial Board’s endorsement discussion, we often ran into policy areas of contention. The five members of the board have different priorities and ideals. But when we came together to find one candidate that deserved our support in Iowa’s caucuses and the general election, we only found one that all of us could support: Sen. Bernie Sanders.

We came to this conclusion after establishing what was most important to all of us on the board. Namely, that we would rather support someone who tries to create meaningful change on vital issues and fails than someone who would maintain the status quo and succeed. Because of his stances on such issues as income stagnation and inequality, environmental policy, criminal-justice and drug-policy reform, the cost of education, and health care, we found our views shared the greatest commonality with Sanders as compared with any other candidate.

One of the biggest factors in our endorsement was Sanders’s unyielding and unchanging vision for radical change in America. He has been on the forefront of the fight against financial excess and corruption, even before it became politically expedient to do so. It is our belief that someone who has raised his voice in support of such change for decades would be a greater proponent for significant change versus a candidate such as Hillary Clinton, whose largest donations over the course of her political career have come from such entities as Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan & Chase. Under a President Hillary Clinton, we believe our country would take a lateral step. Only Sanders inspires confidence that we could move forward.

This isn’t a full-throated endorsement. We still have some reservations about Sanders’s policies, mainly that the effect of some is hard to determine. His proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 could help elevate many workers out of poverty. But it could also have an impact on overall employment. Economists have never really settled the question. Sanders’s proposed financial-transaction tax promises to skim off the very top of financial sector profit, taxing only a fraction of 1 percent in order to raise revenue for his domestic policies, namely that of free public-college education. Yet this could also have a chilling effect on our markets, and again, the potential impact of such a move has been heavily debated, with little resolution.

Our views were more mixed on Sanders’s health-care plan, as well as his ability to conduct foreign policy. One member of the Editorial Board raised concerns about the price tag of Sanders’s health-care proposal. As fact-checking site Politifact has noted, Sanders’s proposal to raise taxes in order to pay for single-payer health care comes up short, to the order of $600 billion. These details need to be worked out before the general election, or Sanders would be eviscerated by both the right and the moderate left, the latter being reluctant to abandon Obamacare, the former being afraid of something so “socialist.” That isn’t all we considered, however. As one board member put it, “You can’t put a price on human well-being.”

Former Secretary of State Clinton undoubtedly has more foreign-policy experience, which was not lost on the board. We hope Sanders will give more details of his plan to deal with ISIS, how he would approach other countries, as well as work with allies such as Israel and adversaries such as Russia, North Korea, and, potentially, China.

Ultimately, our endorsement came down to one simple point that we could all agree on. A President Sanders may not achieve everything he has proposed on the campaign trail. Few successful candidates do. What’s important is that he’s already changing the tenor of our national conversation on important issues, and the Daily Iowan Editorial Board believes he has the potential to do much more than that.

He might have to compromise on some of his flagship promises, true. Very few pieces of landmark legislation get through both houses of Congress unscathed (see: the Affordable Care Act). But a victorious Sanders could signal a sort of tea-party moment for the left, a snowball of political energy that maybe, just maybe, could create the sort of political revolution he’s hoping for.