On Monday, supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders had the opportunity to relive “the Bern” when he was spotted at Tatte Bakery and Cafe in Harvard Square. Though seeing a former Presidential candidate may have been a memorable and exciting experience for a lucky few, his visit to Cambridge was for the purpose of something far less praiseworthy: the endorsement of Cambridge City Council candidates.
The Cambridge City Council race is nonpartisan and productively so. City councils are responsible for dealing with the practical needs of the community, and their services are invaluable for the everyday wellbeing of Cambridge’s citizens. Being nonpartisan allows city councils to make the necessary compromises and listen to the voices of their community without being embroiled in the increasingly polarized nature of our state and federal politics. As a symbol of leftist politics, the presence of Bernie Sanders in this local election is detrimental to the nonpartisanship that makes local government work.
Furthermore, Cambridge is, as a whole, already incredibly liberal. In an open letter, some Democratic activists provided profiles of the candidates to show how many deserving liberal candidates were not given an endorsement, revealing the unproductive and somewhat arbitrary nature of these endorsements. The letter also cited a lack of transparency in the selection process used by the Sanders-affiliated group, Our Revolution, as a problem. We agree with these sentiments and hope that the organization will be more transparent in the future, aware of the risks of choosing candidates for endorsements in liberal cities such as Cambridge.
While Sanders’s intentions are laudable, we hope that he will refrain from intervening in future local elections. Cambridge City Council endorsements cannot be compared to national- and state-level elections, which are part of a greater political dialogue and concern broader interests. The City Council is meant to serve Cambridge, and these needs will be best met when individuals who have lived in this area for an extended period of time are able to shape their own communities. It is inappropriate for outsiders to enter into unfamiliar areas and attempt to affect their lives in this micro-level manner; Cambridge in particular has already demonstrated its excellent capacity for self-governance.
Of course, this principle applies not only to Sanders but to our own student body as well. Most of us will be here for only four short school years, and many us fail to venture far enough outside the Harvard bubble to truly understand the city and appreciate both its strengths and problems. Therefore, despite our best intentions, we should exercise caution in our local political engagement and refrain from naive, uninformed interventions. While some of us may “Feel the Bern”, his actions in Cambridge are something that we cannot endorse.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.