The independent senator from Vermont garnered national recognition over the summer, polling just 7 percentage points behind Hillary Clinton in the Iowa Caucus. His populist platform resonates with young adults in particular, who plaster his image all over websites such as Tumblr and Reddit.
As an independent, I support many of the tenets he champions. I admire his decision to refuse campaign contributions from Super PACs. I even have a soft spot for his punny “Feel the Bern” merchandising.
Nevertheless, I’m surprised he hasn’t been reviewed with a more critical eye. If you’re itching to vote for Bernie Sanders in 2016, consider these factors first.
- We’ve seen his strategy before – with lackluster results.
Hello, Bernie? 2008 Barack Obama called, he wants his campaign back.
Obama’s promises of “hope” and “change” were perhaps the most memorable messages of the 2008 election. Although the strategy was potent enough to secure his nomination, many Americans found those promises to be empty over the next four years.
Is Sanders falling into the same trap? So far, his platform offers similarly lofty expectations that fail to be supplemented by legitimate policy proposals. This is a proven recipe for nationwide dissatisfaction.
The election cycle is still young, but it would be a shame for history to repeat itself so soon.
- He is an independent running for the Democratic ticket.
There are two views on this bold move: A) It is a contradiction that goes against the spirit of identifying as an independent, or B) it is a necessary means of fighting the D.C. political machine, beginning by manipulating it from the inside.
It will be up to voters to decide where they stand.
Sanders seems to think the former, stating, “[There is] profound anger at both political parties, more and more people are becoming independent, the negative is, how do you set up a 50-state infrastructure as an independent?”
He would know, considering he’s the longest-serving independent in congressional history. Speaking of which. . .
- He is a career politician.
Sanders has spent over two thirds of his adult life as an elected official. In his 34 years of service to the state of Vermont, he has been a mayor, a House member, and a senator. Previously, he made four unsuccessful runs for office (twice for governor and twice for the senate).
In fact, his background is quite similar to his Democratic challengers, both notorious career politicians.
The entire presidential election so far has been characterized by anti-establishment themes and candidates. Is Sanders too political for his populist platform?
- . . .and what has he accomplished?
Honestly, not much.
During his 24 years in Congress, Sanders has sponsored 354 bills. Of those, three were signed into law and two were agreed to as simple resolutions.
Again, allow us to compare these numbers to his current competition.
These numbers are slightly lower than Clinton’s (despite the fact that she only served in the Senate for eight years), and starkly contrasted to Biden’s.
Unfortunately, the quality of his legislation doesn’t make up for the lack of quantity. One of his laws offers additional compensation for disabled veterans (yay!). However, his other two laws simply erected a singular post office building each (meh).
What do you think?
Will Sanders be able to deliver on his campaign promises? Are you bothered that he’s running for the Democratic nomination, despite being a self-proclaimed independent? Is he like other career politicians? Has he been successful enough to justify his tenure in office?
Are you still “Feeling the Bern”?
One thought on “4 things nobody is saying about Bernie Sanders”
Love your blog. Critical thinking is good. So please allow me to critique back about Bernie?
1. I see a difference here. Sanders has a decades-long public record on the issues. Did Obama? Not so much. Past deeds foretell future action.
2. Sanders’ focus is on building a progressive movement. That can build the Democratic Party, which in theory is supposed to be the progressive counterpart to a conservative Republican Party. Many would not vote for an independent for fear it would split the Democratic race and usher in a Republican president. Sanders is smart and practical.
3. Yes, politics is Sanders’ career. It is also as his vocation, or calling. Again, in theory, politicians are supposed to be public servants. Politics, ideally, is a noble profession. To me, the term ‘career politician’ means someone who uses politics for their own ambitions. Sanders in not a Washington Insider, he has taken so many political risks over the years, he isn’t wealthy, he does not accept SuperPAC money – all this separates him from a ‘career politician’ (in my eyes).
4. Because money in politics dominates our legislative system, the number of bills that a Congressperson passes may not be a reflection of serving our democracy.