Primary Cheat Sheet: Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders (Democratic)

Fun fact:

Don’t think your vote counts? The first office Sanders held was mayor of Burlington, Vt., and he won the election by 10 votes in 1981. That small margin of victory led this Jewish politician on a course to the Senate and the race for the presidency.

What’s up with the campaign?

Bernie Sanders is one of two Independent senators serving in Congress. However, he caucuses with Democrats and is largely considered the most liberal member of the Senate. The Vermont senator is running a populist campaign and focuses on domestic economics, often pointing to the growing wealth of America’s elite while the middle-class shrinks as a “moral outrage.”

The self-described Democratic Socialist fills convention centers with crowds and is very popular amongst the college crowd and to those on the left that are frustrated with the Democratic party’s move to the center over the last couple of decades.

Some criticize Sanders’ major proposals such as single-payer health care, free public college, a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure and social security expansion as “radical.” Even the 74-year-old senator admitted that taxes would have to raised on people beyond America’s wealthiest one percent. Critics point to the failed initiative in Vermont to establish a “Medicare for all” plan mostly because the effort would have eaten the state’s entire budget.

While Sanders sometimes beats Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire polls, he has been behind her for almost the entire campaign. However, he has raised more money than the Republicans. The Sanders campaign also recently announced he has more donations from females than Clinton and more than two million contributions, a fundraising record for American politics.

One of the campaign’s flagship ideals is not taking big donations, or funds from corporations. The maximum legal contribution is $2,700. Sanders hasn’t sought money from wealthy liberals, despite support.

Voter might like:

      With the college crowd being saddled with an average $28,000 of debt and working for Ohio’s $8.10 minimum wage only to live in their parent’s basement, it’s easy to understand why they’ve been taken by Sanders’ rhetoric of a fair economy.

      Sanders has been serving in government since 1980, which arguably gives him the most padded resume of the bunch.

      People like a winner, and this senator has gathered the largest crowds in the primaries. The Washington Post reported 27,500 people came to see him speak in Los Angeles. He has gathered similar sized crowds in Boston, Cleveland and Little Rock, Ark.

...but watch out for:

      The term “socialist” still scares people. Sanders has been pushing hard to communicate his definition of “Democratic Socialism,” often invoking FDR and Eisenhower.

      Strong anti-gun advocates say the Independent from Vermont is weak on guns due to a vote allowing firearms in checked bags on AMTRAK. He also voted against making gun manufacturers legally accountable for crimes committed with their firearms. 

      The Sanders campaign has been fighting against Hillary Clinton’s “inevitability.” His proposals are popular on the left, but drive the right crazy. He is often framed as “the cool guy who won’t win anyway.”

Biggest policy proposal: The College for all Act of 2015 was proposed to committee May 19, 2015 and aims to make four-year public universities tuition-free. His plan outlines a 0.5-percent tax increase on stock trades, 0.1 percent on bonds and 0.005 percent on derivatives to pay for it.

War: Sanders voted against the war in Iraq but is very vocal about the Islamic State being a major threat. He wants to maintain President Obama’s aggressive air campaign and Special Operations’ ground missions.

However, Sen. Sanders wants bordering Muslim countries to lead the fight and opposes utilizing conventional U.S. ground troops, saying, “It is worth remembering that Saudi Arabia, for example, is a nation controlled by one of the wealthiest families in the world and has the fourth largest military budget of any nation. This is a war for the soul of Islam and the Muslim nations must become more heavily engaged.”


The primaries are elections in which the parties pick their strongest candidate to run for president. In Ohio, Election Day is Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Go here for more information on primaries. CityBeat will be profiling each of the candidates every week until the primaries in March.


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