Bernie Sanders Part 2 of 3 “The Aggressive Progressive”


∞ Marcus Alvarado

We’ve finally hit the point of no return during this election cycle—Donald Trump is poised to win big this Super Tuesday, and Republican nominee’s Marco Rubio and John Kasich are set to drop out of the race leaving Ted Cruz and Trump to duke it out over the next few months. Although to his credit, if Kasich manages to win his home state of Ohio, which happens to be delegate rich, then he could stay on for another week. Either way, it is the American people who will be the real losers if the Democratic Party and its base don’t come to terms with choosing the more viable candidate. I am of course referring to Bernie Sanders, who is set to win Missouri, but must overcome a 5 percentage point deficit in Illinois and a 3 percent deficit in Ohio in order to win over more delegates than Hillary Clinton this Tuesday.

While fortune might not favor the Independent senator from Vermont, lady luck seems to be on his side. Just last Super Tuesday, Sanders managed to pull a massive upset in the Michigan primary, where he had overcome a 20 point deficit, finishing off with 4 percentage points ahead of Clinton. Then on March 9th, Univision and CNN hosted a Democratic debate, where Sanders outshined Clinton on issues from Fracking to campaign finance reform. An expert debater, Sanders’ most memorable lines were those on his record saying “I’ve been fighting for poor people and the middle class for 30 years. Madam secretary, I’ll match my record over yours any day.” One line even earned him the name “HeisenBern” by pundits when he said about campaign finance “…. and I am proud that the gentleman who is head of Goldman Sachs, who didn’t give me $225.000 in speaking fees like my opponent, but said that I was dangerous. Well he’s right—I am dangerous to him and his friends.” Not only did that line receive a roaring applause from the crowed, but it caught Clinton off guard, who simply smirked in return. He had such a powerful performance, that he received a standing ovation from the audience once the debate ended. When you add his recent performance both on the trail and on the debate stage, and the fact that he beats the Republican nominees head to head in wider margins than Clinton, you have the only viable Democrat candidate for the American people this November.

Of course, none of this seems to matter to the mainstream media where outlets like Fox and MSNBC are still trying to crown Hillary Clinton as the definitive democratic candidate. Even the New York times ran heavily skewed articles immediately after last Wednesday’s debate and over the next few days in not just tone, but also by taking most of the lines and major back and forth arguments out of context—often leaving out entire sentences. Even the headlines favored Clinton over Sanders, which is important to note because about 70 percent of people who look at an article’s headline, won’t even read it before commenting.

Luckily this is the 21st century, and based off of metadata pulled from social networking sites, and polls, showed that Sanders clearly came out on top which bewilders the establishment and political pundits. After 10 months they are still scratching their heads as to how a political outsider, and a self described socialist at that, could be successfully competing against a notable politician like Clinton—who under “normal” circumstances would already have the nomination. The people want a candidate for president who isn’t tied down by any corporate influences and one that fights for progressive agendas. A fire has been building up for 30 years, and Americans are finally feeling the Bern.

As exciting as Sanders’ campaign has been, there isn’t a single issue that he’s spoken about over the past 10 months that hasn’t been one he’s been fighting for since the beginnings of his political career as a ranking member of the Liberty Union Party in Burlington, Vermont in the early 70s. The party, self described as “nonviolent socialists”, has a platform based on universal healthcare and the importance of democracy in the workplace and at school. They ran Sanders as a candidate for Senate twice, in 1972 and again in 1974, as well as for governor in 1972 and 1976. With years of being the head of activist groups, Sanders had no trouble attracting likely voters, but it meant nothing when your opponents can outspend you on attack ads and are able to travel to every district to attract more voters. Having lost every race, he took a break from politics to briefly work with the American Peoples Historic Society, where he would make a 20 minute documentary on the socialist politician Eugene V. Debs.

It would be another four years before Sanders would rejoin the world of politics. In early 1980, with the rise of neo-conservatism and Ronald Reagan, and at the behest of his closest friends and family, Bernie Sanders decided he would run for Mayor of Burlington against 5 time incumbent democratic mayor Gordon Paquette.  Paquette, who had served 13 years in city council and was financially connected to the city’s “elite”, was so revered by both democrats and republicans the Republicans didn’t even bother to put forth a candidate.

Despite being the clear underdog, Sander’s progressive agenda had gained him the endorsement of teachers and university professors, social welfare agencies, and even the police union. Sanders’ biggest endorsements came from his highly energetic and optimistic volunteers, which would help create a big enough grassroots campaign to win him the office with a solid 10 point lead.

It is also important to note that Sanders success was partially attributed to the Progressive Coalition which was an independent organization made mostly of Sanders supporters whose function was to help contest elections in order to give progressive candidates a chance at gaining seats in local government—to which they succeeded in doing during that same election year.

Even as Mayor, Sanders was not shy when it came to speaking out against U.S. foreign policy—especially its foreign policy towards Latin America. During the 80’s, the U.S. interfered in many Latin American regime changes and even political assassinations. The U.S. justified its “Monroe Doctrine” by insisting that socialistic governments, even ones that were democratically elected, posed a “major threat” to the U.S. if any of them became soviet satellite states.

Over the next few years, many progressives that were voted into city council had come from the poor, working, and student areas of Burlington. Together, they were able to pass ordinances at great benefit to the local environment which had been heavily polluted by local industries. With a strong army of progressives in his corner and through the help of his constituency, Sanders was able to remain in office for nearly a decade. At the end of his final mayoral term in 1987, Sanders was ranked the best Mayor in America, according to U.S. News and World Report.

In 1990, Bernie had ran for and won a seat in Congress in as an Independent from Vermont, where he would alienate many of his colleges for his constant railing against both parties for being bought off by corporations and working for the wealthy. It is here that Sanders would take his stance against going into Iraq, work on health care reform, and fight against the Patriot Act. He also co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus made up of mostly liberal democrats, to which he chaired for its first 8 years.