Bernie Sanders: The People’s Candidate

Bernie Sanders, one of two Independent senators, considers a run for president in 2016


Matt Denaro, Staff Writer

Concerned about the increasing gap between the rich and the poor in this nation? Worried that the Second Gilded Age is upon us? Then there is a possible 2016 presidential candidate from Vermont who might interest you.

Bernard “Bernie” Sanders is a left-leaning, Independent senator from Vermont, currently in his second term after serving nine terms in the House of Representatives. Born in Brooklyn, NY in 1941, Sanders has been highly devoted to Vermont politics for decades. Sanders announced he was prepared to run for president in an interview with The Nation on March 6, 2014. If Sanders does run he will definitely counter the left-of-center powerhouse, and presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

A key tenet of Sanders’ platform would be to revitalize American infrastructure. Not addressing the dilapidated roads, bridges and airports could result in the United States suffering the same fate as the Roman Republic. According to Sanders, investment in infrastructure would create millions of jobs and protect the quality of life for Americans. In his Huffington Post blog, Sanders proposed a $1 trillion investment into infrastructure, with subsequent cuts in military spending.

During the Cold War, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act. The Eisenhower years were some of the most economically prosperous times in American History. Much of this can be attributed to the quality roadways paved by American tax dollars. The current condition of American roads is deplorable. In addition, hundreds of bridges, tunnels and railways are outdated or structurally deficient. As one of the few politicians prioritizing infrastructure improvements, Senator Sanders is acting like a modern-day Henry Clay.

Another part of a potential Sanders’ presidential platform that would interest liberals concerns the issue of climate change. There is a very good chance that this will be a key point during the 2016 presidential debates. Senator Sanders has demonstrated his willingness to fight for environmental issues. During a January 7th session in the Senate, Sanders raised his fears about the Keystone XL pipeline, including the potential for its negative impact on the environment. He has also railed against members of Congress who deny the validity of climate change.

Sanders said, “When we reject science, we become the laughingstocks of the world.”

While Senator Sanders has a platform that many American voters would identify with, he is going to have a very difficult time earning the nomination for the Democratic Party due to his associations with socialism. This term has such a stigma in the United States, that it will probably take a herculean effort on the part of his campaign team to dispel any fears. It is one thing to be a socialist in Vermont, however, it is quite another to be one in the White House.

Another obstacle for Senator Sanders will be fundraising. He despises the fact that large corporations can donate large sums of money into political campaigns, especially after the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. He is concerned that the country is moving closer to being a plutocracy, a government run by the wealthy. Sanders would amass his campaign funds from individual contributions.

In a recent Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) post, fellow New Yorkers turned Vermonters Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream expressed their support for Sanders’ possible campaign. Maybe he will not be without a corporate backing in the 2016 election after all.