Commentary: Will Bernie Sanders be able to sustain free?

Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Commentary: Will Bernie Sanders be able to sustain free?
March 04
23:15 2020

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

I am a fan of free! Whenever I can get something for free, I am usually the first person in line. Some years ago, a major pizza chain was giving away free crazy bread with each pizza order. Unfortunately, that didn’t last very long. It could have been that the company saw that free was not going to fit into their long-term economic plan.

One of the Democratic presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders, is a proponent of free! During both of his presidential bids, he has been an advocate of free healthcare for all. He references the Canadian system as a model for what our system might look like. Of course, during his last run, Hillary Clinton was the candidate and therefore his healthcare idea fell short.

Now with new energy and an emerging presence, Senator Bernie Sanders is leading the field of Democratic candidates. As I listen to him, he comes across in multiple personas. First, he is a convincing fellow and aspirational for the American people. When he talks about free healthcare and our moral right to have it, it is easy to believe him. He has crowds, especially young people, in such a frenzy that the price points and costs never really enter the picture.

Senator Sanders also sounds a bit mean. He has a kind of “I’m going to beat your brains out” mentality. In the long run, how will that mindset sit with American voters? After all, we don’t want a mean sounding president of the United States of America.

When I was a young boy growing up in North Carolina, we would go to the fair each year. At the fair, there was always a guy trying to sell us something. That’s Bernie! He is trying to convince us that he can become the next president. He talks non-stop and has all the answers without hesitating.

Now, in addition to free healthcare, Bernie Sanders is telling us that student loans will be forgiven, and that college education will be free. Just a few years ago, one of the lyrics to a Hip Hop song was “blow the whistle.” Well, Bernie Sanders is really blowing the whistle. Is this the whistle of hope or the whistle of temporary insanity?

Senator Sanders describes himself as a Democratic Socialist. In everyday terms, that means sharing everything and that almost everything is free. Here are some perspectives on his ideas, at least from where I stand.

First off, Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat. He identifies himself as an Independent from Vermont. Is he aligned with the Democratic Party because the Republican Party wouldn’t accept him? Can you imagine a Republican Socialist?

Many believe that the Democratic Party is misguided by having Bernie Sanders in it. My position is if he wants to run as a Democrat, he should become a Democrat. If you are not all in, then you are all out. How can you be partially in and partially out? Our nation is especially troubled now with who is in the White House. Remember, he wasn’t always a Republican.

Senator Sanders’ proposals are far reaching. Who is going to pay for free college, free healthcare and for the forgiveness of student loans?  His generic answer has been Wall Street. My consumer answer is really? Recently, at a CNN town hall meeting, he said that a part of his plan was for us to pay a small tax. Will that strategy work over a long period of time?

Bernie Sanders has a lot of supporters. The question is whether America is ready for these radical transitions and transformations. Important primaries coming up will give us a temperature reading as to the viability of his programs.

Just days ago a Yahoo poll said Joe Biden has the best chance of defeating the president. This is good news for the Biden camp. Going forward in the weeks ahead, we will get a clearer picture of exactly who the Democratic candidate will be. 

Fasten your seatbelt, we are in for a bumpy ride.

James B. Ewers Jr., Ed.D., is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator and can be reached at

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