With the looming Iowa caucus showing us that it is time to make a decision on who to support as a candidate, it is all the more imperative that we are not subject to political bandwagoning. With candidates like Hillary Clinton who has been debuting her dance moves on the talk show circuit, or even Rand Paul playing a political drinking game on The Daily Show, it is important that as a nation citizens vote for the candidate that they side with politically, rather than the one that is most socially appealing. It is easy to ignore one’s stand on politics when they are the “hippest” candidate out there, and there seems to be a trend of supporting a candidate without even knowing much about his or her policies. One of the candidates most subject to this is Bernie Sanders, who’s blunt political correctness, and grandfatherly warmth has attracted many supporters these last few months. Sanders has a large following on social media and according to The Guardian, he even has about 0.6 million more Facebook followers than Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Sanders is taking the millennial vote by storm (and in all twitter polls conducted by the Eagle Eye about the Democratic debates, MSD students have declared Sanders the winner), but in order to fully support Sanders, one must surely know exactly what he stands for. And to do this, some facts must be presented.
If one cannot already tell by his thick New York accent, Sanders was in born Brooklyn September 8, 1941, a son to Polish and Russian immigrants. Sanders is Jewish (although he admits to being very secular) and his interest in politics at a young age likely has to do with his religion as he is quoted with saying in a June 2015 interview with Christian Science Monitor, June 11, 2015, “A guy named Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932. He won an election, and fifty million people died as a result of that election in World War II, including six million Jews. So what I learned as a little kid is that politics is, in fact, very important.” While attending James Madison High (which is ironic because both Madison and Sanders support a strong centralized government), Sanders lost his first election- the one for student body president.
After graduating from the University of Chicago, Sanders took various jobs in Vermont and New York, and even spent time on an Israeli kibbutz- likely where he got his socialist ideals. He settled in Vermont in 1968 and shortly after lost in a third-party campaign for governor. However, this failure was short lived, and as an independent he was elected (and reelected three times) as the Mayor of Burlington, Vermont’s largest city at the time. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990, and is the currently the longest serving independent in congressional history. Sanders is known for his longstanding support for civil rights (he even marched on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King himself), his support for rights for the LGBT community, his attention to global warming, and his disdain for the war in Iraq. Although he has spent much of his political career as an Independent, he has held many caucasus with the Democratic party and this has led to him running as a Democratic candidate. He considers himself a “Democratic Socialist.”
However, one can most likely glean this information about Sanders from looking at his Wikipedia page. The most important way to get to understand Sanders and his policy is by clearing up common misconceptions about him and his policies. First of all, is the classification of Sanders as a Communist. According to Oxford Dictionary, Communism is “a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs,” and socialism is “a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.” These sound vaguely similar, right? In fact, that is not the case, Oxford dictionary goes on to write “The term ‘socialism’ has been used to describe positions as far apart as anarchism, Soviet state communism, and social democracy; however, it necessarily implies an opposition to the untrammeled workings of the economic market. The socialist parties that have arisen in most European countries from the late 19th century have generally tended toward social democracy.”
We don’t call the United Kingdom Communist and they have enacted Socialist policies that allow their markets to fluctuate unrestrictedly, which has therefore allowed the workers there to have a limitless earning potential based on their work. We don’t call the United States a Communist country where there a Socialistic welfare programs such as food stamps in place. Then why do Sander’s critics go so far as to call Sanders a Communist? Even Donald Trump is doing it, as he called Sanders a Communist at his Jan. 26 rally in Iowa City.
Another misconception is that Sanders is the perfect candidate. After all he is as the media coins it “the yang to Donald Trump’s yin.” However, for those who value foreign policy as the most pressing issue for America, Sanders is may not the right pick. His focus seems to be on a political revolution surrounding class based economics, and he is a self proclaimed pacifist. In fact, according to The Guardian Sanders “didn’t even have a foreign policy page on his campaign website. And when his office blasted out a press release several days ahead of the first Democratic debate under the banner ‘Sanders foreign policy experience’, the contents focused exclusively on his vote not to go to war in Iraq, and offered no other policy-making insights.”
However, one should not be so quick to judge Sanders actions. As terrorism is rampant as of late, Sanders has taken great strides to match concerns surrounding foreign policy. Before the attacks on Paris, a NBC News and Wall Street Journal poll showed that only two percent of Democratic voters considered terrorism was their primary concern, and as more Democrats fear terrorism post attacks, the more Sanders is trying to match these concerns.
Sanders is not perfect, nor is this article an endorsement. But if one ignores the mudslinging and the social media courtship of this election and reads between the lines, they will begin to see Sander’s beliefs (as well as those of other candidates) for what they truly are.
For those who want an analysis of another political candidate, tweet us at @EagleEyeMSD.
— Coral Springs Talk (@Coralspringsfla) January 27, 2016
My only life goal is to get a selfie with @BernieSanders
— jessie (@jessiespinach) January 23, 2016
As much as I like what Bernie sanders has to say, all he’s gonna do if he’s president is make life harder on the middle class
— Kyra ♒️ (@longlivekcx) January 13, 2016
Who won tonight’s #demdebate?
— Eagle Eye MSD (@EagleEyeMSD) January 18, 2016