Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Bernie Sanders, with uncombed hair and a thick Brooklyn accent, has stolen America’s heart. The unlikely choice, the man that has energized voters more than fifty years his junior, has broken the record for the amount raised through individual donors. On Monday night, Sanders virtually tied longtime favorite, Hillary Clinton, in Iowa. Precincts even resorted to a coin toss to choose between the two candidates. And, with the New Hampshire primary approaching next week, a recent CNN/WMUR poll shows that 54% of New Hampshire Democrats believe Sanders will win.
Yet many, particularly in the mainstream media, still treat Bernie like a crazy uncle, calling him “unelectable” and a “kook.” However, Bernie’s success is not a fluke. Rather he is an answer to a “berning” deep within the American people who are tired of the inequality and the corruption they see all around them.
Bernie is a man of principle. He did not capitalize on Hillary Clinton’s “damn emails.” He stayed on message advocating for the working class and calling for the end to the widespread income inequality. He has vowed to check the power of financial giants. He has said that he would break up Wall Street with “a 21st century Glass-Steagall Act,” and has called for a constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United v. FEC (2008) decision that allows corporations to make unlimited campaign donations.
Bernie Sanders’s tough on Wall Street approach is offset by Hillary Clinton’s apparent comfort with it. She has received donations from billionaires – including an approximate $100,000 from Donald Trump in past years. Many on Wall Street favor Clinton for her pragmatism — in other words, they know she won’t challenge the status quo. In fact, Clinton left Iowa last Wednesday to speak at a campaign fundraiser where she raked in speaking fees from a Philadelphia investment firm. Hillary Clinton’s views are constantly evolving and what she promises never seems to match with her actions.
Sanders, on the other hand, has a much more consistent record than does Clinton. He has always opposed the Keystone Pipeline XL. He opposed the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which prevented the government from recognizing same sex marriages, and has been a longtime supporter of gay rights. Sanders voted against both of the Iraq Wars on moral grounds. He has championed civil rights throughout his entire career, being arrested in 1962 for protesting the segregation in Chicago schools, attending the 1963 March on Washington, and he has strongly condemning the recent brutal police violence as of late.
Despite his strong poll numbers, immense social media following, and remarkable political career there is still a popular myth being circulated that Bernie is simply unelectable. This excuse for not voting for Bernie is stale and simply invalid. Bernie represents the future of America in more ways than his extensive use of social media. According to an NBC exit poll 84% of Democratic voters between the ages of 17 and 29 supported Sanders. Young Americans are certainly “feeling the bern” and longing for the type of reform that Sanders offers. And, Sanders has even garnered the support of many Republicans in Vermont. He is willing to challenge the way Washington operates, to take on Wall Street, and fight for the hard working and the downtrodden.
Hillary is focused on herself and her own campaign, continually mentioning what she will do and her experience. However, Bernie rarely mentions himself in speeches. Rather he speaks about strengthening the middle class and regaining control of the country from Wall Street. To make America great again, we must ask the hard questions and challenge corrupt practices that have become the norm, and the only candidate that is willing to do that is Bernie Sanders.
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