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Jen Boynton headshot

Ben + Jerry Speak for Bernie at American Sustainable Business Council

By Jen Boynton

The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) opened with a lively debate between representatives from Sanders for President and Clinton for President. The ASBC invited the leading republican campaigns to attend as well, but they all declined.

"Our system isn't broken, it's rigged," Ben Cohen explained as he took the stage with his longtime partner-in-crime Jerry Greenfield. In the allotted 15 minutes, the duo ran through a litany of inspiring platforms from the Sanders for President campaign, all designed to make our country more just and equitable: universal healthcare, college subsidies, capital infrastructure investments to reduce youth unemployment. To fund these feel-good policies, the Sanders campaign advocates ending the cap on social security payments (currently income over $130K is not subject to social security taxes), eliminating offshore tax havens, and finally, "billion dollar corporations that don’t pay taxes should be illegal."

Jerry closed out their 15 minute platform by saying,

"Bernie has a comprehensive + specific platform. People respond because they know that he’s right. Bernie can get elected, does get elected, gets re-elected. Great leader. Great programs. Guy is honest, tells the truth. Voters are yearning for people who tell the truth, who aren’t 'politics as usual.'.... It’s going to come down to big money vs. people power. We’ve seen people power win over and over IF people show up.

At the start of the session, ASBC circulated a survey of key policy issues for its membership: carbon tax, increase high road business practice and policies; create more opportunity for small and mid-size American businesses; and modify tax code to level the playing field for small and mid-sized businesses and asked the audience to rate each camp on ability to meet the group's policy goals. In short, ASBC's policy priorities are the practical kind that benefit the business community but may not be so inspiring. And it may be too early in the political cycle for these sorts of policy proposals. But for better or worse the Bernie camp didn't expound on the details of the policy plan.

Since Greenfield and Cohen are members of the ASBC and clearly the home team, Elgie Holstein for Clinton knew he had his work cut out for him when he took to the stage.

I figured they'd bring ice cream, so I hunted through my cupboards. Graham crackers wouldn't do, maybe some fancy salt water taffy from the shore. I didn't bring it because I figured they [Ben + Jerry's] probably already have that flavor, and also I really didn't want to give up my taffy. Put me down as insufficiently committed to the democratic process that I didn’t want to give up my saltwater taffy," He joked.

He went on to outline Clinton's political commitment to incentivizing renewable energy by expanding tax credits. "Its embarrassing to see how congress treats the renewable tax credit: It creates new jobs, clean jobs. And Congress waits until the end of the year to extend it year after year." Clinton, he promised, would extend the hand of government to support and incentivize clean energy, even if it requires bypassing congress and issuing an executive order. He didn't outline any other platforms, aligned with the ASBC's goals or otherwise.

In the many months to go until the Democratic primaries, the fight for the nomination is sure to continue to focus on consumer issues -- those that inspire voters to get to the polls. While businesses are made up of individual voters, it's cash that rules everything around me. One hopes that both candidates will develop more solidified platforms to support small businesses and sustainable economic growth before the 2016 election.

Image credit, Jen Boynton

Jen Boynton headshot

Jen Boynton is the former Editor-in-Chief of TriplePundit. She has an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School and has helped organizations including SAP, PwC and Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. She is based in San Diego, California. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

Read more stories by Jen Boynton