Mr. Bernie Sanders is the junior senator from Vermont. He assumed his current senator position in January of 2007 and before that he represented Vermont as a U.S. representative for 16 years. But well before he took office, his political and social positions and values were being influenced and molded by the American civil rights movement. At the young age of 22, Mr. Sanders was one of the 200,000 participants in the March on Washington more than 50 years ago. He was there for the “I have a Dream” speech by the great American leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And since then, Mr. Sanders has been an advocate for the social well being of Americans, especially those under represented and disenfranchised Americans. And yes, it is true. Bernie Sanders is a socialist. More on this later. But it should be recognized that he follows in the foot steps of some of the greatest and most influential American leaders in this respect. As Peter Dreier states in his Huffington Post blog,
Sanders’s views are in sync with a longstanding American socialist tradition. Throughout our history, some of the nation’s most influential activists and thinkers, such as Jane Addams, John Dewey, Helen Keller, W.E.B. DuBois, Albert Einstein, A. Philip Randolph, Walter Reuther, Martin Luther King, and Gloria Steinem, embraced socialism.
No doubt Bernie Sanders has been making some waves in the political arena, recently. As Yahoo Global News Anchor, and veteran journalist, Katie Couric pointed out to Bernie Sanders at the beginning of the interview,
You were polling at 8 percent, I think, in April and now you’re up to 15 percent. Which is pretty, you know, a big jump. And I think a lot of people are pretty surprised about it.
That is not far from the truth. In a recent CNN publication, Mr. Sanders back in February stood at 6 percent among “likely Democratic primary voters.” His support has more than doubled to 13 percent of “likely Democratic voters” over the course of the past couple of months. Of course, he still has a ways to go. Mrs. Clinton is the heavy favorite and front runner by quite a bit. However, Mr. Sanders is not to be taken lightly and his rhetoric resonates with many voters. In his usual forthright and respectable manner, he responds to Katie Couric’s statement,
Well, they may be [surprised], I am not. Because people understand, Katie, that there is something fundamentally wrong when for the last 40 years [the] middle class in this country has been disappearing…We’re working longer hours for lower wages. In my state of Vermont, honestly it is not uncommon for people to be working two or three jobs to cobble together some income and some health care. Young people can’t afford to go to college anymore…
A loyal supporter of Mr. Sanders should not be surprised by this statement. They are well aware of his positions, and he is consistent on those positions. But if one is not familiar with Mr. Sanders, know this, he is a socialist. He does not hide that fact. In terms of politics, he is closer to the Social Democrats of the Swedish Riksdag than he is to the democratic party of the United States; thus, he resides as an independent in the books. Because of his political positions, he has no choice but to caucus with the democratic party. This is because he sits very far left of the democratic party and there are only two parties that caucus in the United States congress – the republicans and the democrats. Of course his European style of socialism makes this follow up quote all the more salient and relevant in American democratic politics,
…you want to run for president for the United States, well you better get some billionaires behind you. And if you don’t have billionaires, it’s pretty hard to run.
So where does Senator Sanders reside on some of the current and relevant domestic and foreign policy issues? Is he against the re-authorization of the Patriot Act? Perhaps he aligns closer to Rand Paul than Hillary Clinton on this issue? Does he want to break up the “too big to fail” banks? Where does Senator Sanders stand on Super PACs or campaign finance? Where does he stand on income inequality? What about ISIS? What about the recent tragedies in Ferguson, New York, and Baltimore (Note, this interview took place before Charleston)? What does Senator Sanders think about the dynamics between the police and the community and what does he think should be done about it?
Introducing, Mr. Bernie Sanders.
Bernie Sanders offers something a bit different than the norm for American political discourse and agenda setting. He admits that he and Rand Paul have the same concerns when it comes to privacy issues
…I worry, really worry, that we are moving toward an Orwellian form of society.
Another thing to consider is what Mr. Dreier proposes in his blog, Is Bernie Sanders’ Democratic Socialism as American as American pie? Socialism tends to be viewed as a dirty word in the United States. Senator Lindsey Graham calls Senator Sanders crazy. He likes Sanders, but he still thinks he is crazy nonetheless. Maybe this is true?
Consider this, Bernie Sanders unapologetically explains to Katie Couric that he is indeed a “Democratic Socialist.” He looks to the Scandinavian countries as examples of economic stability and vitality. In his point of view, those governments do a lot better job of taking care of their citizens. Is a government taking care of its people crazy? Perhaps. Is Bernie Sanders crazy? Perhaps. He does tell Katie he is a bit. But most importantly, are Americans crazy? Definitely.