- Politics and Social Issues
What Would Bernie do?
Who is Bernie Sanders?
Bernie sanders was born in Brooklyn and his career is filled with a steadfastness of belief and popularity one would align with great people like Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln. Bernie Sanders is a man of unwavering integrity as you will see in this article. Is that what the USA needs or is his particular brand of motivation based upon well meaning ignorance?
Bernie Sanders was born in Brooklyn New York on 8 September 1941. He went to school at James Madison High then Brooklyn College, and then graduated at the University of Chicago. In a surprise upset he becomes the mayor of Burlington in 1981, winning by a mere ten votes and gets re-elected in 1983 with 52% of the vote and setting a record for voter turnout. He goes on to get re-elected as the mayor of Burlington for two additional terms.
He is the longest serving independent in US history. He was the sole congressman for Vermont in the House of Representatives for sixteen years or eight terms before he was elected to the senate in 2006. He was elected with 71% of the vote.
Sanders served two years as the chairperson of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee from 2013 to 2015. He became the ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee in January 2015. In that same year he announced he would be running for President of the United States - a race he would eventually not get to finish as the DNC put their weight behind Hillary Clinton, who would eventually lose to Donald J. Trump. And that is where America may have gone wrong.
He is a self-described democratic socialist and during his 2016 presidential campaign he raised more money in small contributions than any other presidential hopeful in history. This is a direct indication of his popularity even in a country like the USA where the word "socialist" is not always that popular to say the least.
He is also known for his eight and a half hour filibuster against the 2010 tax cut deal Obama made with Republicans called the 2010 Tax Relief Act. The filibuster did not stop the act from being passed, but Sanders further cemented his reputation as being someone with an unwavering approach towards doing the right thing no matter the cost.
Bernie Sanders is about family values, well among all the other issues he feels strongly about. On his website berniesanders.com it says the following about real family values:
"Family values: let’s talk about what those words mean."
"When a mother can’t spend time with her newborn child during the first weeks and months of life, that is not a family value."
"When a husband can’t get time off from work to care for his cancer-stricken wife, that is not a family value."
"When a mother is forced to send her sick child to school because she can’t afford to stay home, that is not a family value."
"When parents and children can’t spend any time on vacation together during the course of an entire year, that is not a family value."
"In fact, these things are an attack on everything the family stands for."
"When it comes to supporting real family values, the United States lags behind virtually every major country on earth. We are the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee its workers some form of paid family leave, paid sick leave or paid vacation time."
"Or, to put that another way: Workers and families in every other major industrialized country in the world get a better deal than we do here in the United States."
Bernie Sanders is a good grandpa according to this at-home-interview done by People's Sandra Sobieraj Westfall on 23 January 2016.
"First thing through the door, little Dylan Driscoll, 4, demands to know one thing from his grandfather, the presidential candidate Bernie Sanders: 'Are we going to play Monster?' At Grandpa Bernie’s house in Burlington, Vermont, 'Monster' is the latest thing – and, soon enough, the senator who wants to be president is growling and chasing after Dylan and his sister, Ella, 7, while they giggle and shriek."
His wife Jane O'Meara Sanders has this to say with reference to the piece done by the Washington Post, making Sanders out to be a grumpy grandpa:
“Anybody who knows him knows that isn’t true. Sometimes he is grumpy with reporters when they’re not covering the important issues, but not with us.”
"The Bern" as so many of his followers fondly refer to him has only one biological child Levi Sanders. Levi says the following about his dad according to the same People article:
“When I was a little kid, I started with B. Then it was Ber and then Bern and now it’s Bernard. Or the Bernster. I’ve never called him Bernie. And I never have called him Dad,” says Levi. “Even when I was six years old, I thought it was childish. He was a friend, not an authoritarian.”
Bernie Sanders has been married to his wife Jane O'Meara Sanders for twenty eight years. Many say she is probably his closest adviser. Bernie said the following about her in the New York Times in 1996:
"Obviously Jane has played an important role in the congressional office. Yes, she is a soulmate, a sounding board."
Watch this report by MSNBC below about their loving professional relationship.
How do we know he has integrity?
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines integrity as
"firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values".
Throughout his career Bernie Sanders has stuck to his principles no matter what, as can be seen by his eight and a half hour filibuster earlier in this article. But wait, there is more. A lot more.
Sanders does not talk bad or trash talk his opponents. When a reporter asked him about Hillary Clinton's $600 haircut he responded thus:
“Ana, I don’t mean to be rude here. I am running for president of the United States on serious issues, O.K.? Do you have serious questions?”
In fact whenever an interviewer or reporter tried to bait him he sidestepped their efforts, simply refusing to add to the bad mouthing mentality politicians seem to embrace nowadays.
When Sanders refers to himself as a Democratic Socialist despite the negativity that would evoke under a lot of Americans, it's clear he probably does not have an organised public relations team working for him. He does not seem to care about the polls and that is something else a public relations team would have recommended he does follow and analyse. The fact that he does not care what people think is one of the most obvious indications of his integrity, doing what his morale values require of him. Firmly.
Unfortunately for him, Sanders' refusal to engage in answering questions wrt Clinton's haircut or not getting petty like when Marco Rubio accidentally hit a kid in the face with a football, he directed the attention back to Rubio's stand on social security when he addressed a crowd in Salem, New Hampshire, are the kinds of issues that could have gotten him a lot more media attention. He however does not want that kind of attention. He sticks to the real issues, having to bring the media's wandering attention back on track time and again.
According to the Center for Public Integrity, Bernie Sanders is one of the twenty one senators who voluntarily e-filed his finance reports in 2014. Neither senators nor congressmen are required to do this. He chose to because it goes hand in hand with one of the issues he advocates on his website namely "Getting Big Money out of politics and restoring democracy".
The examples of the integrity upheld by Bernie Sanders are so many that I would have to devote an entire other article just to cover the most important. The fact of the matter is that Bernie Sanders has integrity and oodles of it.
So should America not have voted for Bernie?
If one woke up today after a hundred years' sleep and you had to choose to vote for either Trump, Clinton or Sanders based on if they have integrity or not, most people would probably vote for Sanders, but it has become less clear in the USA what is important.
When you ask people why they voted for a certain candidate in the 2016 Presidential Campaign they would start to list issues, and yes that is what it is all about in the end.
One cannot help but wonder however, is it not the man or woman who has integrity who would eventually be better suited for POTUS. Most politicians who run for president do so at least partly scientifically, adhering to the way they should address crowds, how they should approach issues or what the polls say. Is that however not part of the problem? It sounds like these people just really want to become president and would say anything to get into the Oval Office, like Obama's promises on closing Guantanamo or George H. Bush's famous "read my lips, no new taxes" promises, which they broke once in office.
The other problem with politicians who play for the crowd is that they try to make everybody happy and that does not work. In the end they are bound to make many unhappy, but most voters do not seem to get this. It is called cognitive dissonance and is when people cannot let go of their original beliefs despite evidence to the contrary. Another reason people vote for the wrong candidate is because of disinformation, which happens to be something Sanders has never been accused of. Another tick in the integrity box.
People are afraid to change and Sanders represents big change. One could argue Trump also represents big change, but Trump represents the fear Americans feel with so many potential problems on the horizon so voting for him may have been no big change. It would be more scary to vote for someone like Sanders who do not pay unreasonable council to the fears of people.
There are also those images Americans associate with success like having lots of money and being a shrewd businessman, which are not qualities one would associate with Sanders. But I think one of the biggest issues is the way the media placed a blackout on Sanders during his campaign. A good example is the stirring speech Sanders delivered in front of thousands in Arizona on 15 March 2016. What speech, you may ask. Exactly, nobody covered it. Look at the following table:
Yes, Americans should probably have voted for Bernie. There is nobody more qualified to be POTUS. All Bernie does not have is experience as the president, but he has held public office for most of his life, he has fought the good fight and he cares about the people of the USA. Everybody.
The USA proved that a large percentage of them still care about integrity and that bodes well for the future, IF that number is increasing. One day when people look at the different monuments in the USA from the statue of liberty, to the statue of Abe Lincoln to any of the other symbols the USA stands for what will they say? Where did you go wrong? Maybe the only way to determine if the USA is still on track is to ask, what would Bernie do?