The Campaign Trail: Bernie Sanders

William Jewell College student Brush Rash weighs in on why Bernie Sanders has his vote for 2016. #feelthebern

There has been quite the stir in the political world around Vermont Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders lately: while Bernie is gaining ground, Hillary Clinton is losing it, and at his rallies Bernie has attracted as many as 100,000 supporters.  His exact appeal is hard to place at first glance: he’s not anything like the young, charming Barack Obama of 2008, he is not traditionally associated with any political party and his name recognition is limited at best. However, there is something about Bernie’s grassroots approach to politics that is drawing the public’s attention despite a hard media fight to belittle him. His Facebook page has over two million likesone in five rally attendees who RSVP also volunteer to work and he has raised over $15 million without the help of a Super PAC. If you were to ask him about it, he would be just as surprised as you.

It might be because there is more to Bernie than meets the eye. Behind the crazy hair is a solid record. He voted against the Iraq War, the PATRIOT Act and restrictive Voter ID laws. He is committed against the mysterious Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and supports the breakup of major banks. Among the laundry-list of civil and human rights causeshe has championed are equal rights for homosexuals for at least 15 years and intergration, as he was arrested for protesting segregation in the 1960s. In contrast to politicians who are constantly being ragged for flip-flopping, Bernie’s political compass has pointed consistently in the same direction since the beginning of his political career. In that way, Sanders is no ordinary politician, and that may be why the news has been so keen to compare him to another unorthodox candidate, Donald Trump.

Both candidates are flourishing in a culture of frustration with a seemingly unfixable political system, which has rattled both sides of the political spectrum. As we enter a more cynical political era, the political rhetoric has changed. As The Economist so accurately draws comparison, those who rallied behind the call of “Hope” in 2008 are now finding themselves behind a more cynical rallying cry: “Fight.” Some are choosing to fight alongside Trump and a smaller number alongside Bernie.

If the polls are to be believed, however, Bernie will only continue to increase in popularity, which is a good thing in the opinion of this humble undergrad. No other candidate has such a sweeping campaign platform, and it isn’t as radical as most would believe, rather, the platform Bernie proposes would simply bring American access to education and healthcare, among others, policies up to the same standards that Europeans have been living under for decades. Although it may be a large step for the American people to take, it is a step we must take to catch up with the rest of the world. It is time for Americans to stop being bankrupted by hospital bills and stifled under student loan debt, things that take away opportunities for them to spend money elsewhere and stifle the economy. It is time to give Americans a living wage of $15 an hour so that we as a nation can prosper. Although Sanders has remained mostly quiet on foreign policy, it seems that he desires a world order in which the United States is not the sole arbiter of peace—and it is time for the US to push for nations to keep their own regions stable. It is time, too, for money to get out of politics and Bernie is leading by legislation and by example.

Yes, Bernie may be a hard sell at first glance, and it would be ridiculous to tout all of his policies as perfect, but there are few other candidates who dare to fight with such vivacity as Sanders, and few who are fighting so hard with the interest of the American people rather than corporations at heart. As he is so fond of saying, America is in need of a political revolution: a revolution so that we might nobly save the last, best hope of Earth from a new era’s new problems, and we might continue to call her the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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