Bernie Sanders (1941- ), a socialist senator from Vermont, is running for US president in 2016. He is running as a Democrat to the left of Hillary Clinton.
Positions: He is for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, paid family leave, free university education, universal healthcare, Israel, and weak gun control. In Congress he opposed the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, NAFTA, TPP, Obama’s cuts to Social Security and Obama’s tax cuts for the rich. He sees Denmark as a model for the US.
Favoured by: young White voters.
Unlike Hillary Clinton:
- He is a socialist standing up for working people, not a capitalist standing up for banks and big business. Most of his money comes from small contributions of $200 or less. He can win elections even when outspent.
- He is not a snake, or at least does not seem like one.
- He is idealistic in speeches but pragmatic in office. He is good at giving speeches that appeal to people’s high hopes, but once in office he is more about doing the most good for the most people under the given circumstances. Republican Senator John McCain says he is “passionate”, “strong-willed” but also “result-oriented”.
- He is a class reductionist, helping Black people mainly by helping less-well-off White people. Ta-Nehisi Coates says that for Blacks this is like putting a bandage on a gunshot wound: it helps, but it is not enough.
His speeches are given in a loud, rough voice in his native New York Jewish accent. Favourite words: grotesque, abysmal, horrific and immoral.
Sanders’s father came from Poland. Many in his family who stayed behind died in the Holocaust. Sanders concludes:
“An election in 1932 ended up killing 50 million people around the world.”
In the 1940s and 1950s, Sanders grew up in a lower-middle-class neighbourhood in the Flatbush, Brooklyn part of New York. It was then heavily Jewish but, like Sanders himself, its Jewishness was more cultural than religious. He went to James Madison High School, which gave us Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Senator Chuck Schumer, Andrew Dice Clay and Chris Rock. He was there the same time as singer Carole King and Judge Judy.
After a year at Brooklyn College he went to the University of Chicago. He studied political science, but learned far more on the streets: he joined CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and took part in protests against segregated public schools and university-owned housing.
When he and his first wife visited Vermont they fell in love with the place. They moved there just before the wave of back-to-the-land hippies. Shortly after, in 1969, he had a son – by his girlfriend!
Throughout the 1970s he ran for public office, but did not win till 1980, when he became mayor of Burlington. Instead of gentrification or disfiguring the waterfront of Lake Champlain with high-rises, he made Burlington more liveable by helping the poor buy homes. Burlington kept him on as mayor throughout the 1980s.
Since 1991, Vermont has been sending him to Congress to represent them.
– Abagond, 2016.
Update (February 7th): He voted for Bill Clinton’s mass incarceration policies in the form of the 1994 Crime Bill. He is for drone warfare.
- Posts about Bernie Sanders
- The 2016 election for US president
- Barack Obama
- The White liberal guide to Black people
- Ta-Nehisi Coates
- New York English