Bernie Sanders


"[Bernie Sanders] is the most prominent democratic socialist in America... now in his eighth term in Congress... The "minority of one" member of Congress who sits in the House as neither a Democrat nor a Republican... Vermonters, who shouted, "Give 'em hell, Bernie!"...

"It's mind-boggling how popular Bernie is. And it's not just progressives... Polls consistently identify Sanders as the most popular politician in the state... He was re-elected in 2004 with more than two-thirds of the vote against a well-funded Republican challenger, sweeping not just his traditional base in Burlington but the vast majority of the state's 251 rural towns. Now... Sanders is the clear front-runner to win one of the few US Senate seats next year where no incumbent is running...

"Even if he were not a socialist, and even if he were not an independent who eschews most of the trappings of contemporary partisan politics--including those of a Democratic party he sees as dramatically too centrist, too cautious and too unfocused to counter the country's drift to the right... That he attracts the support he does with what are generally portrayed as career-crushing liabilities in American politics has made his Senate campaign the subject of a good deal of fascination among progressives looking for a successful model... Democrats want to know how Sanders wins tough races in an overwhelmingly rural state by drawing the enthusiastic support of precisely the sort of white working-class voters Democrats have ahd such a hard time hanging on to in recent elections...

"There's not Bernie Sanders gimmick. Rather, Sanders offers confirmation of a fundamental reality that too many progressive pols have forgotten: An ideologically muscular message delivered in a manner that crosses lines of class, region and partisanship is still the best strategy. "Bernie earned people's trust over a long period of time by taking strong stands and sticking to them"...

"...about economics. To a great extent, arguably, than any other progressive politician in the country, Sanders is identified with pocketbook issues... issues ranging from protecting Social Security, retirement plans and Medicare to expanding access to healthcare, lowering drug prices, raising the minimum wage, helping small businesses get started and keeping family farmers on the land...

"The sense that "Bernie's on our side" on the economic issues has provided the Congressman with a following even among Vermonters not so comfortable with his opposition to the war or his ardent support of reproductive freedom and gay rights...

"The biggest mistake Democrats make is to take economics off the table...

"...Sanders succeeds in separating policy from politics and getting to those deeper discussions about the role government can and should play in solving real-life problems--discussions that are usually obscured by partisan maneuvering" (John Nichols. "Being Like Bernie: What Democrats Can Learn from Sanders-style Populism." The Nation, Aug. 15, 2005: 15-18).


"Bernie Sanders: "We have got to change the political culture in America. We need a political revolution. That means we are working on politics not just three weeks before an election but 365 days a year. We have to develop a strong economic message which says every American is entitled to health care through a national health care program. And we're not going to allow these large corporations to push through trade agreements which allow them to throw Americans out on the street and run to China. We're not going to give tax breaks to billionaires and then cut back on the needs of our elderly or poor or kids or education. We're not goint to privatize Social Security--in fact, we're going to strengthen it. We're going to provide quality education for every kid in America, from preschool through college. We have to take on these corporate leaders who are selling out the American people, whose allegiance is now much more to China than it is to the United States. If we have the courage to take these people on, I think we can overwhelm Bush and his friends" (Ruth Conniff. "The Progressive Interview: Bernie Sanders." The Progressive, Dec. 2005: 31-34).


Colby Glass, MLIS