Who Is Bernie Sanders?
by Vincent Czyz and Okla Elliott
His national poll rating has more than doubled, to nearly 11%, in only five weeks. His rallies in Iowa and New Hampshire attracted larger crowds than any other candidate, Democrat or Republican. Copies of his memoir, focusing on his 1996 congressional race, are now selling for more than $250 on Amazon, and money is also pouring in from all over the country. In the first 24 hours after announcing his candidacy, Sanders pulled $1.5 million—mostly from small donors ($40 on average), though still more than any other presidential candidate on the first day. But the question for millions of Americans remains: who is Bernie Sanders?
Sanders was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1941. His father was a Polish immigrant and paint salesman. “That created tensions for our parents, and that was an important part of our life,” said the senator’s 80-year-old brother, Larry, who now lives in Oxford, England, where he recently stood as a parliamentary candidate for the Green Party (as quoted in The Guardian).
Bernie Sanders, who moved to Vermont and made a living as a youth counselor and a carpenter, went on to become a four-term mayor of Burlington and an eight-term US Congress member. He is currently serving his second term as a US Senator, and he won his last election for the US Senate with an astounding 71% of the vote—all the more impressive when one recalls he ran as an independent and had a democratic challenger siphoning off some of the liberal vote. When we consider his CV, it is clear he is more qualified than many previous presidents of the United States. Any argument that he isn’t ready to serve in that office therefore fails immediately.
Unlike many current candidates who have adopted trendy rhetoric, Bernie has been fighting the good fight for a full four decades. As far back as 1974, he was already pointing to the widening disparity between ballooning corporate profits (along with the runaway accumulation of wealth for the very few) to the take-home pay of the average worker. In his 1981 inaugural speech, he took on “giant banks and multimillion-dollar corporations.” In 1988, he was asked on C-Span 1988 what he, as a socialist mayor, would like to see from the next president. He called for a candidate who recognizes “that we have an extreme disparity between rich and poor, that elections are bought and sold.” By around 1996, Sanders had begun the dialogue about the wealthiest “one percent,” a phrase that now seems to bear the copyright of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which Sanders fully supported, and has since been pilfered by mainstreamers, such as Hillary Clinton. He has also been in support of gay rights for decades, well before it became mainstream in the Democratic Party and the culture as a whole.
Speaking of Clinton, less than two months ago, she enjoyed a 21-percentage point lead over her nearest competitor in the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary campaign. That lead is down to 8 points: she leads Sanders 43 to 35 percent according to a new WMUR/CNN Granite State Poll, which was conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center from June 18 to 24. The poll included 360 likely 2016 Democratic primary voters and has a margin of error of 5.2 percent. In other words, Sanders is closing in on a statistical dead heat with Clinton.
The trend is clear: in polls conducted about a year ago, Clinton led Sanders among likely Democratic voters by a margin of 59 percent to 5 percent. Now likely Democratic voters see Sanders as the candidate who best represents the values of the Democratic Party, 41 to Clinton’s 30 percent. And 45 percent said Sanders cares the most about “people like you,” while 24 percent named Clinton.
The only thing Sanders has to fear, it seems, are the naysayers, who admit he is by far the best candidate for president of the United States but insist “he can’t win.” Didn’t we hear this in 2008 when a black man with a Muslim-sounding name, who had been “a senator for five minutes,” as Hillary condescendingly put it, ran for president?
For an in-depth look at Sanders on the issues, visit his website at: https://berniesanders.com/