Thursday, October 15, 2015

Presidential Candidates - #4 Bernie Sanders

"What will it be like going to a Democratic political rally?" I wondered.  After our trip to the Bush meet-and-greet landed my sister and I in a photo on the front page a prominent local newspaper, I was worried it would be my fate to be caught on the nightly national news at the Bernie Sanders meeting!  What would people think?!  
I cast aside my fears and boldly marched into the building full of Democrats.  The lady at the registration desk asked if I wanted to sign in.  I told her, "Not really.  I'm a Republican; I'm not supposed to be here!"  She insisted, so I signed in, giving minimal information.  I picked up a Bernie Sanders sticker as a souvenir, and a kindly older man who was volunteering told me that one day I too might see the light and become a Democrat.

The audience was noticeably a lot younger than the Republican audiences I had seen up to this point.  
Four minutes before the scheduled start time, the local campaign manager began speaking.  He was followed by a few more speakers; then Bernie Sanders was introduced to a standing ovation.

Miscellaneous Facts:  Sanders is 74 years old, and the longest serving independent in Congressional history.  His father, Eli Sanders, was a Jew who immigrated to the United States from Poland in 1921; many of his relatives in Poland died during the Holocaust.  Sanders' mother, Dorothy, was born in New York to Jewish parents.  Sanders is "Proud to be Jewish, but not particularly religious."  He has been married to Jane O'Meara Driscoll since 1988, and has 3 stepchildren whom he considers his own.  He also has a son from a previous relationship.  He is 5 feet 8 inches tall.
Created with www.readwritethink.org's Timeline Generator.  Click to enlarge.
Sanders' Speech
Greed is destroying our country.  Corporate America is becoming so powerful that a candidate cannot do anything without a political revolution.  The corporations have the money and the power, but if we get involved and stand together we can change this nation.

We have the richest nation in the world.  But most people are not benefitting from the wealth.  Many Americans are struggling.  The top 1/10th of 1% has as much wealth as 90% of everyone else.  We need to change that.  Republicans are nervous when they hear the words "re-distribution of the wealth."  It's time for them to start shaking!  Wealth has already been redistributed, but in the wrong direction.  We need to reverse the flow. 

The economy is better now than it was under President Bush.  Obama adding 200,000 jobs a month is better than Bush losing 800,000 jobs a month.  Under Obama, the economy has improved, but we shouldn't be satisfied.

The past 40 years, under both Democrats and Republicans, the middle class has been disappearing.  Considering inflation, the average working American is now making less for the same amount of labor than he did 40 years ago.  People are working hard but getting nowhere.  This is because the economy is skewed to favor the top 1%.

The minimum wage is inadequate.  We need to raise it to $15 an hour.  Seattle and Los Angeles have already done this.  It's not a radical idea.  Anyone who works 40 hours a week should not be living in poverty.  And there should be pay equality for women.

Unemployment is officially 5.1%, but our real unemployment rate is over 10%.  Real youth unemployment for ages 17-20 is 33% for Caucasians, 36% for Hispanics, and 51% for African Americans.  What we need is a massive federal jobs program.  We need to hire, not fire, teachers.  We need to work on our roads; our infrastructure is crumbling.  We need to make a major investment of $1 trillion to create 13 million new jobs.

We have more people in prison than any country.  Young people drop out of school and if they're not studying and can't find work, they end up in prison.  We have 2.2 million people in jail.  We need to end this disgrace and instead of having the most incarcerated population, have the best educated population.  We need to end mandatory minimum sentencing and the war on drugs.
Republicans say they love family values.  But what they mean is that women shouldn't have the right to control their own bodies, and that our gay brothers and sisters should not have the right to marry.  "I disagree," Sanders said.

We need to end the international embarrassment of having no paid family and medical leave.  We shouldn't separate mothers and their newborn babies; that is the opposite of family values.  There should be 3 months of paid family and medical leave.

Sanders stood against NAFTA and CAFTA, and believes we need to fight to defeat the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement.  We need to make corporate America invest in the United States, not China and Mexico.

Sanders voted against the '08 bailouts.  But the Federal Reserve helped the large banks in 2008 because they were too big to fail.  Now those banks are even bigger; we need to break them up.  Small businesses need to be able to get affordable loans.

Five years ago the Supreme Court ruled the wealthy could spend all the money they wanted on politics with SuperPacs.  The wealthy can now buy the government of the United States.  Sanders is the only non-billionaire in the 2016 election who is running without the support of a Super-Pac.  He doesn't want or need their money.  As president, Sanders would not nominate any justices to the Supreme Court who would not work to overturn the Citizens United decision.  There should be public funding of elections.

We  need the best-educated workforce.  Some people can't go to college because they can't afford it.  This is unfair to young people, and stupid for the economy.  As president he would work to make every public college in the nation tuition-free.  Also, we need to make it so people can refinance their student loans.

Pope Francis says we have a moral responsibility to leave our planet healthy and happy.  Scientists are unanimous on climate change.  We need to move away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources.

We have made considerable progress against racism in this country.  But we still have institutional racism and a broken criminal justice system.  As mayor, Sanders worked with the police.  The majority are honest and hardworking; they do not have an easy job.  But when police break the law, they  must be held accountable.

There are 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.  Many are being exploited because they have no rights.  We need to provide them legal rights and a path to citizenship.

It's important to think big, not small.  What kind of nation can we become?  Healthcare should be a right.  Veterans shouldn't be on the streets with no healthcare.  For the past 30+ years, there has been a transfer of wealth to the top.  We need to reverse that flow.  We have the money.  My goals are not utopian; they are practical.  And we can accomplish them if we don't allow our opponents to divide us.

 Townhall Questions
Q: You're planning to make tuition at public colleges free, but what about those of us who want to go to private colleges.
A: We'll increase grants.

Q:  The veterans administration is an inefficient bureaucracy.  Shouldn't something be done?
A: You're right; it is.  We have a moral responsibility to our veterans.

Question about education
A:  The federal government should not plan how to run every school in the country.  States and school boards know what's best for their own children.  I helped to end No Child Left Behind.  One thing I don't like is the use of property tax to fund the schools.

Q: How do we institute tax reform?
A:  Corporations should pay taxes on all their profits, and not be able to hide their profits in some island.  We also need progressive taxation.

Question from German exchange student about the refugee crisis.
A: First of all, how much does college tuition cost in Germany?  [Student responds: nothing or 500-600 Euros]  [Back to Sanders] You're our hero.  [Now to refugee crisis]  It's all related to the disastrous war in Iraq; then there's Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Syria.  The refugee crisis is a terrible human tragedy, a global issue, and we should try to make sure the refugees can find a place to live in dignity.

Question from little girl: how can we keep people out of jail?
A: We need to keep children from dropping out to school.  Often if young people are not in school and not working, they end up in jail.

Q: I am transgender and poor.  I won't be able to afford gender reassignment surgery unless  in the future I'm able to find a really good job.  Would you support having the government help fund my surgery?
A: I'm sympathetic.
Further Resources: Visit Senator Sanders' website to learn more about him and read his stance on the important issues.  You can also read about him on Wikipedia.

Sanders' books are available on Amazon: Outsider in the White House (2015), The Speech: A Historic Filibuster (2011), and Outsider in the House (1998),

My remarks:  Bernie Sanders seems to be very sincere in his beliefs, and considering that his entire life has been dedicated to the ideals he speaks about, I believe he means what he says.  The audience loved him.  I was disappointed he didn't stay afterward to meet with people or have a photo op.  But I was glad I went to listen to him.

That said, while listening to Sanders, I felt like I was from another planet, as I disagreed with almost everything Sanders said.  It didn't help things much to walk outside into the fresh air afterwards...and see a total lunar eclipse in progress!  Not that I'm superstitious or anything, but if there's a solar eclipse after I listen to Hillary Clinton, I might think twice about hanging out with Democrats again.
Disclaimer: Candidates' speeches are reconstructed from my imperfect notes.  If you notice any mistakes, just let me know.  I would not intentionally misrepresent anyone's position.  I am not endorsing any candidate or candidate's position at this time, and no candidate has endorsed me.  And yes, I do realize that often speeches are to some extent propaganda, but it's interesting to me to see the points candidates consider as most important.
For my personal political views, please see this article.

27 comments:

  1. Great post, Bethany. He is an interesting old bird, isn't he? I do believe he follows his beliefs and says what he means. Great review and wrap up! xo Diana

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    1. Indeed, he is interesting...very different from the Republican candidates.

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  2. Interesting! I know so little about U.S. politics but it seems your campaigns go on and on and on. One government is elected and the next day a new campaign begins. Well, that's what it looks like from where I am anyway. ;)

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    1. Iowa probably gets the worst/best of it. Since we're the first state to caucus,we have a lot of candidates visiting, political phone calls, and surveys, and see a lot of advertisements.

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  3. I think what everyone can agree on about Sanders is that he's the most honest candidate out there. You can always see a politician thinking in their head "let me phrase this to be electable" but I never really see that in Sanders. He says the same things I heard him say when he was an Independent Senator that only a few knew about. Also I would say Trump is honest but I can't tell if he's serious about running for president or if he's just enjoying the attention.

    I thought Sanders did really well at the recent debate, and he won practically every online poll post-debate. But then CNN and other major media sources said Hillary was the winner. The DNC sure wanted to put that crown on her head and is obviously giving her every advantage possible.

    I think Republicans are really starting to fear Bernie now. They're getting ready to red-bait him with a passion. Maybe calling Obama a socialist-communist dictator every day all day has dulled that affect. The biggest question is "can he win?" which is a ridiculous question in a way. Sanders' platform is more social democracy which is pretty much the standard of every center-left political party in almost every country in the world. Most parties that call themselves democratic socialists can gain a few seats in their parliaments but most coalition with the other center-to-left parties to gain any real power.

    There's a quote by John Steinbeck that's never been verified (by those who knew the author well can imagine him saying it) "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat (working class), but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."

    Which is true because red-baiting scare tactics have worked in America. The socialism word is not scary in Europe. Great Britain elected a "socialist" right after World War II to replace a popular Winston Churchill as Prime Minister.FDR was certainly a socialist by European standards. He wanted to implement universal health care but wanted to pass Social Security first and then he passed away before that could happen.

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    1. Indeed, Sanders is one of the most honest candidates. He is willing to take positions he believes are right, even if they are unpopular. Another candidate that seems very honest is Rand Paul. He consistently stands for less government regardless of whether that makes him popular or not. A Sanders vs. Paul race would be fascinating, as they are the extremes in both directions. The things they do agree on might be surprising though; I believe they're both against the Patriot Act for one.

      Before reading any news articles, and after watching the debate, I would have said Sanders won as well. Clinton glossed over and basically said, "Who cares?" about her many faults, and the news articles say she dominated the debate. Chafee seemed irrelevant. Webb sounded like a Republican. O'Malley seemed pretty happy and excited, but he didn't really make a big impression on me.

      Sanders does seem to want to change this country into more of the European model. He's open enough about what he wants to do: institute socialism and re-distribute the wealth. I don't think the Republicans actually need to do anything more than quote him.

      Good quote from Steinbeck.

      Some people believe in socialism, and admit it. A lot of people believe in socialism and won't admit it because they don't like the word. And then there are some of us with utter distaste for everything socialism implies. I would agree with you that FDR was a bit of a socialist.

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  4. I think hew is an interesting canmdidate but too old to be a president of US

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    1. His age is the least of the reasons for him not to be President!!!

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    2. If elected, Sanders would be the oldest person ever to assume the presidency. Ronald Reagan was 69 years, 349 days old when he became president, and 77 years, 349 days when he left office.

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  5. I agree with you Bethany, but it was an interesting read! Thanks:)
    Blessings, Aimee

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    1. Blessings to you as well Aimee! Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. It certainly astonishes me how many candidates there are and how long these campaigns go on. I've heard of Bernie Sanders (at least his name) but had no idea he was running. This was a very interesting read.

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    1. Read up on the candidates. Be an informed voter. It took me into my late 40's to realize how ill informed Americans are on their own government. This is why we keep voting the same idiots into office. : )

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    2. I live in Canada, so there's only so much I need to know about your candidates. I can't vote for anyone...idiots or not :)

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    3. It seems we have a lot more candidates than usual this year...and we pretty much do go straight from one election to another. Last year our senate race was the big thing for Iowans.

      Ahh, you "foreigners" are so much better informed about U.S. politics than most Americans are on the politics in other countries that it can be embarrassing at times. (I better read up on the Canadian government before you quiz me!)

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  7. I would have a hard time being there. Good for you for going. I agree with you and would not vote for him.

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  8. You know Bethany, I don't consider myself either Republican or Democrat. If anything I call myself a Constitutionalist. If a Democrat were to believe in the correct things I would not have any qualms voting for him just because he wrote a "D" after his name. Perhaps that is because I live in the South were this is a fairly common occurrence.

    That said, I do not agree with Sanders and will not be voting for him in the upcoming election. Good for you though for being brave and going to see him in person! :)

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    1. It is good to vote for principles rather than to vote for a candidate just because he or she belongs to a certain party. I actually ended up writing-in a candidate last presidential election because I could not bring myself to vote for Romney (and, of course, voting for Obama would have been unthinkable). It would be very hard for me to vote for a Democrat; any "Democrat" who stands for what I believe in would be way out of touch with the party.

      Listening to the Democratic debate though I couldn't help but wonder why Jim Webb is running as a Democrat. He answered almost every question the way a Republican would. I guess he's a Southern Democrat. It surprised me that Kim Davis was elected as a Democrat as well.

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  9. I don't consider myself either a Democrat or a Republican. I'm embarrassed to say I did vote Democrat in the last two Presidential elections though. I thought this beautiful country that we live in needed a change. Had I known then what I know now I never would've pulled the levers I did. We are moving in a terrible direction with the middle class of this country being squeezed out. Where do all of these Bernie Sanders followers think the money is going to come from to pay for all of the free stuff he is promising?? Where is the incentive to work hard when the less money you make the more you are entitled to?? My son goes to college full time and works 20 plus hours a week on top of all of his school work to enable himself to go to college because we can't afford to help him out as much as we wish we could while other kids whose parents are here illegally in this country get a free ride. I think that everyone deserves to have a good life but you have to work for it. It shouldn't just be handed to you as a reward for bad behavior. I'm so sad for what we are leaving our grandchildren and their children and so on. If Hillary gets into office it will be another four years of Obama for the most part. And if Bernie gets into office, well I just can't go there. I will tell you I will not vote for a Democrat this time. All signs point to another economic disaster like the one in 2008. I think this is going to happen regardless and we need to prepare for it now. War is what I'm most worried about. Putin is a maniac. Pairing him up with al-Assad is an absolute disaster in the making. I have no words for the deal with Iran. It is laughable if anyone thinks they will not be building nuclear weapons the second we're not looking. Israel does not deserve to be thrown to the wolves like this. Obama should be ashamed of himself for doing this to them but he's too much of a narcissist to see this. Netanyahu will obliterate Iran before he ever lets them hurt Israel. At least one good thing would come out of it. Ugghhh!! I'm sorry I'm writing a novel here. I'm so happy to see young people getting involved and educating themselves about our country and how it's run. I was an uninformed voter in every election I've voted in for the most part. It won't happen again though. My husband and my sons have opened my eyes to what goes on. We don't all agree on certain things but we are all informed. : ) God bless!!

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    1. Bernie Sanders is very clear about where the money for all that he is promising will come from. It will come from the rich--the top 1%. But as Margaret Thatcher said, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money"

      Sanders' plan is to give free tuition so that students and their parents don't have to struggle financially...so you could get a "free ride" too for your good behavior. We can all have the government take care of all of our problems and live happily ever after. ;) Doesn't that sound wonderful? jk.

      Hard work and God's providence are what made our nation great.

      Glad you decided to become an informed voter. If we don't think deeply about our choices it is easy to swallow the beautiful pictures and lovely promises candidates make. God bless you too, and thanks for stopping by.

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  10. Oh man I can't believe you were able to sit through all that! I would have left in much annoyance and frustration within the first couple of minutes!

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    1. It probably helped to be taking notes for my article the whole time; I was able to take his line about "rabid right-wing Republicans" somewhat objectively instead of personally. :)

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  11. Thanks for all the good information, Bethany...you are helping me be better informed! Your photo of the eclipse is lovely and your comment following the photo left me laughing out loud :) xx

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  12. Hi Bethany, Another fine report, this time on Bernie Sanders. I admire you for being so firmly planted in the Republican establishment. :-) Honestly, I have trouble seeing it clearly R or D. Well, I guess it's the lesser of two evils to me. Let's take taxes for a moment. In your comments you said, "Bernie Sanders is very clear about where the money for all that he is promising will come from. It will come from the rich--the top 1%. But as Margaret Thatcher said, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money". When I go back to my Economics class in college, I remember the professor telling us, one of the primary functions of a government is redistribution of wealth. What does that mean? Well, for example, I am not wealthy enough to pay for even one mile of construction of an interstate highway. So somehow we have to get together and put money from all of us together to build the highways. I think what it boils down to is that we have not done a very good job of redistributing the wealth. One of my neighbors here is Jeff Bezos. Last week he made about $2.9 Billion on just one day when Amazon's stock went up. Of course, none of that is taxable, YET. :-) Here is my question for you: Which party will do a better job of resolving the 1% issue? Thanks for another great post.

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    1. Your admiration for my being "firmly planted in the Republican establishment" is gratuitous. ;) I have no problem with trumping my Republicanism, since I am a registered Republican. But to be honest, I would not have registered as a Republican were it not that I want to vote in the caucuses. My personal views are slightly more libertarian. I want a lot less government than many Republicans are comfortable with.

      Socialism and libertarianism are basically the two opposite ends of the spectrum...the only things more extreme would be communism and anarchism.

      If a person believes a primary function of the government is redistribution of wealth, he or she should definitely vote for Bernie Sanders, as Sanders will do a much better job at that than any candidate, Democrat or Republican.

      I personally believe the duty of government should be to institute justice, as detailed in Bastiat's booklet The Law. This short book explains that man has inherent rights from God. Men then take their rights and vest them in a government. A man has the right to self-defence; thus the community of men have the right to self-defence. A man does not have the right to steal from his rich neighbor to give to his poor neighbor or vice versa. Therefore the government does not have the right to redistribute the wealth, since all rights of government are derived from the rights of individuals.

      Murray Rothbard, in his book A New Liberty, gives an argument for the privatization of roads and highways. I do not go that far myself, as I think it would not be practicable here in the U.S. right now.

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