Three Reasons Futurists Should Consider Bernie Sanders

WARNING: This is a political post. Indeed, writing about technology and consciousness and what it means to be human in the 21st century is at it's essence political. But other than my “I Voted Today: Big Fucking Deal” post, I’ve tried to keep myself out of the abyss that’s called American politics. However, with the kickoff of the primaries this month, I find myself wondering who is the best candidate for the things that really matter to me? I’m not registered in any party and thus have the freedom to look at everyone, from Republicans to Democrats to Independents and the third party candidates.

In general, I believe that we should concentrate more on building up the third parties. Our binary blue/red system is ripe with disorder, dishonesty and disillusion. We need to bring more voices to the table, or soon we’ll have one party—the DemApubs, a fully corporate sponsored entity that feeds off our insecurities and preys on our apathy. And until a few weeks ago, I fully intended on voting for a third party candidate in the fall.

Bernie Sanders however, has peaked my interest. Not from a philosophical or even socialist standpoint, but from a futurist standpoint. You see, my goal is not to Make America Great Again (whatever that means) nor is it to be Robin Hood and take from the rich to feed the poor. When I look at politics, I ask myself, who is most likely to get us through the digital revolution and truly usher in the Information Age? Who is supporting policies that enable technology to bloom and take us into the 21st century? Who supports science and innovation? Who is open to letting go of our 19th century fossil fuel industry? Who is willing to free humanity from the Industrial Age? Who will help us lay down the necessary policies that are the cornerstones of a technically advanced society?

Government’s job is to protect the people. Most think that only means foreign policy. But to this I’d add investing in the infrastructure that enables our society to thrive and navigate the huge economic changes of the Information Age. For make no mistake, what domestic policies we chose to implement right now will determine what type of digital world we live in. One in which all of our society benefits from the technological advancements, or one in which only a few hold all the keys and the rest are left to fend for themselves. Because like it or not, while the rest of America is fighting about gays, abortion, guns and nationalism, technology is progressing and trust me, none of those things will matter one bit in the next evolution of humanity.

After looking at all the candidates, I came to a surprising conclusion—that an old socialist from Vermont is actually the best candidate at this point in time when it comes to furthering our advancement as a technological society. He might not even understand half of what’s happening in Silicon Valley or NASA, but his platform contains some important things for all futurists to consider. And yes, many futurists do make more than $250,000 a year, so they might not like to hear what Bernie has to say. But before you vote merely to keep your taxes lower, please, if you care at all about the technological advancement of our world, consider Bernie for the following three reasons.

 #1: Bernie is against nuclear war and for reduced military spending

We are now at the point that technically, we could annihilate this planet. That we haven’t yet is miraculous. We are officially our own greatest threat. Nuclear disarmament is more important than ever, as well as the reigning in of military spending and investment in artificially intelligent drones and soldier-robots. In his article in Politico Magazine, Lawrence Hobbs says this about Bernie, “Twenty-five years after the Cold War, there is…no need to spend a trillion dollars to modernize our nuclear arsenal, and Sanders has even pledged to cut $100 billion in nuclear spending over the next decade. Instead the United States should ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which Sanders told me he would push for, in order to ban all nuclear explosions in all environments, for both military and civilian purposes.”

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As a very practical man reminded me on FB thread, “Avoiding nuclear war is the most important thing we can vote for.” I’d also add that reducing the amount of money spent by our government on all technologies of destruction is a part of that. Bernie is absolutely behind both.

 #2: Bernie is for universal health care, inexpensive higher education and has even said that a universal basic income is something to consider

If all our citizens have access to health care and education as well as a basic income for food and shelter, then our technology is freed from the economic constraints that currently hold it back. Why are we still using dirty coal? Because of jobs. Those in the industry won’t let go because they can’t care for their families without their income. This is but one example. But imagine if they didn’t have to fear. If instead when one technology makes an older one obsolete, the worker won’t starve or end up on the street, but instead will continue to live and have care and be able to afford to go back to school and retrain to the new technology? What a different world it would be if when a life-saving technology is invented, all can have access to it because our health care system works in our favor, not for profits. Any technically advanced society would use its ingenuity to solve the problems of homelessness, hunger and health, and Bernie’s policies can be seen as a path in this direction. It will take a lot of hard work for us to move from our profit-driven economics to one where technology is used to provide the most basic needs to all of us at the least cost, but the time to start is now and Bernie’s campaign is forcing us to begin the discussion.

Why would a futurist care at all that everyone is provided for? Because technology is intimately linked to a work-less future—one in which automation will eliminate millions of jobs, with nothing new to replace them. This means an unemployment rate never seen before. To me, it’s a matter of national security that we ensure ALL our citizens are cared for and that our humanity is sacred and worthy of such an investment. Too many unemployed and impoverished people, and America spirals into third world status. Bob Marley put it so well, “A hungry man is an angry man.” Within thirty years we will either have a plethora of hungry, angry men, or we’ll have the infrastructure in place to ensure health care, food, housing and education for all. I’d rather remain a first world country than resist helping one another.

#3: Bernie is not affiliated with any specific religion

This is pretty huge. There’s never been a real contender for the American presidency who wasn’t affiliated with Christianity. I want to be clear, I’m not an atheist and do have a spiritual practice, but I also believe that organized religion is behind many of the dire issues we face in our world. Most wars are fought with a belief that we are agents of God cleaning up civilization. Apocalypse politics are practiced both within US foreign policy as well as within terrorist groups such as ISIS.

In addition, religious fundamentalism is generally against technology. Scientists throughout the centuries have been silenced by those whose Gods don’t approve of their findings. This is a problem that we can no longer afford to tolerate. Humanity can and will destroy the planet if it continues to operate under the concept of Divine Manifestation. The separation of church and state ensures liberty for all. The freedom to practice a religious devotion of your choice without fear of being burned at the stake. The freedom to practice family planning and birth control (if you’re a woman). The freedom to pursue science, not with wild evil abandonment, but with rational, moral and logical eyes and without the fear of oh, yes, being burned at the stake. That our leaders still have to pass some Christian God litmus test should no longer be happening in the 21st century.

An advanced society hasn’t lost their wonder and awe with nature, the cosmos or even the divine, but they have lost their need for religious dogma that controls their lives and tells them how to live.

I know, Bernie isn’t perfect and I wish he would have run as a third party and not within the corrupt binary primary system. But for futurists, he’s actually a very good choice. He’s the only candidate who has respect for the harm and destruction of the military industrial complex as well as organized religion in our world. Combined with his desire to use our technology to wisely care for all of us with regards to education and health care, I think he’s the one to help us take the next steps in excellence. This is not creating a nanny state—rather Bernie’s policies help us prepare for that time when our technology takes us into the post-work future. If we ignore these very important issues, we do so at our own peril.

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