The Foresight of Bernie Sanders: on the Right Side of History

According to Google trends data, Bernie Sanders dominated google searches during the fourth Democratic presidential debate held in Charleston, South Carolina on January 17th. He was the top searched candidate in 38 different states and attracted the most interest all across the nation.

Whether searching Google takes  you to Bernie’s voting record, videos from the Senate, or a flashback to his eight and a half hour filibuster, one thing becomes clear: Bernie’s record is consistent and on the right side of history. Hindsight is 20-20, and looking back at the Vermont Senator’s past reveals someone whose vision of the future connects with reality.

Civil Rights

During the 1960’s Bernie Sanders was arrested while demonstrating for desegregated public schools in Chicago. As a student at the University of Chicago he was active in both the Congress on Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1962 Bernie stood on the steps of the University of Chicago administration building and convinced fellow students to camp out overnight in front of the university president’s office in protest. Time Magazine quotes him as saying, “We feel it is an intolerable situation, when Negro and white students of the university cannot live together in university owned apartments,” The action was labeled “Chicago’s first civil rights sit-in.” By contrast, Hillary Clinton described herself in the 1960s as a “Goldwater Girl,” referencing her support for 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, who voted against the Civil Rights Act. It is hard to imagine someone in today’s mainstream openly justifying the unequal treatment of black citizens. Even more mind boggling when you consider the amount of support that existed for discriminatory policies half a century ago. But going along with popular attitudes is not something that Bernie Sanders prioritizes. According to Gallup poll research, 68% of the public felt that same-sex marriage “should not be valid” in 1996.  In the same year, Sanders voted against the Defense of Marriage Act. In fact, Bernie was supporting the civil rights of gay individuals way back in the early 1970s. According to Politifact, Bernie wrote an open letter during his early 1970s campaign for governor that said, “Let us abolish all laws which attempt to impose a particular brand of morality or ‘right’ on people. Let’s abolish all laws dealing with… sexual behavior (adultery, homosexuality, etc.)”

 

 

War

In 2003, Bernie Sanders was one of the minority votes opposing the invasion of Iraq. According to the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University from 2013, “The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest.” The Iraq war was not directly paid for through taxes. It was financed on borrowed money, which is why the federal government will continue to pay interest on the war for decades to come. Those numbers cannot be understated, they are astronomical. It’s absolutely mind boggling to think about what a few trillion dollars could do inside the United States. To put those numbers in perspective, Apple’s entire revenue for fiscal year 2015 was $234 billion. That’s not profit, that’s literally all the money that it took in globally. The criminality of contractors in Iraq is well documented, so it’s not hard to imagine that much of those trillions of dollars were either wasted or worked their way into someone’s pocket. If you read the news at all it’s clear the Iraqi people didn’t benefit from all that money. From the same Brown University Study referenced above, “The war directly killed at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have contributed to the deaths of as many as four times that number.When security forces, insurgents, journalists and humanitarian workers were included, the war’s death toll rose to an estimated 176,000 to 189,000.” If you read the incredible book “Blackwater,” by Jeremy Scahill your head will explode contemplating the lawless impunity with which private mercenaries in Iraq killed people. It’s absolutely insane. And they did so on six figure salaries provided by the American taxpayer. But Senator Sanders openly doubted the reasons for war and called into question what the results of such an invasion would be.

 

The perspicacity of Bernie Sanders before the Iraq war vote is unreal. He says clearly,

“At a time when this country has a $6 trillion national debt and a growing deficit, we should be clear that a war and a long-term American occupation of Iraq could be extremely expensive.

I am concerned about the problems of so-called unintended consequences. Who will govern Iraq when Saddam Hussein is removed and what role will the U.S. play in ensuing a civil war that could develop in that country? Will moderate governments in the region who have large Islamic fundamentalist populations be overthrown and replaced by extremists?”

Meanwhile Dick Cheney was claiming we would be greeted as liberators. And until it was forced by local popular movements, the Bush Administration actively prevented elections in Iraq, installing Paul Bremer as the Governor of Iraq and urging him to quickly open Iraqi markets for foreign investment. Democracy forever, amen.

The Economy

The economy is a complex issue with many different perspectives. And yet Bernie Sander’s history standing up for everyday American workers is solid. In a video uploaded to youtube by “women4Bernie,” Senator Sanders confronts then Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, throwing a barrage of depressing economic numbers at the multi-millionaire in order to demonstrate the effects of trickle down economics on the American worker.

According to a recent study by Oxfam, “62 people have the same amount of wealth as half the world.” Senator Sanders has been directly critiquing the economic system that lead to this concentration of capital for literally decades, calling on regulations of the financial system and taxing on speculation. He is not a socialist in the vein of authoritarian dictators from failed communism, thus the “democratic” part of his “democratic-socialism.” But if you don’t feel like trusting a politician, why not the universally acknowledged genius Albert Einstein? In his essay entitled “Why Socialism” he writes:

 “Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.”

Healthcare

Before the fourth Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina, Bernie Sanders released his “Medicare-for-all” universal healthcare bill. Although again, this is not a new policy idea cooked up to try and please voters. Bernie has introduced universal healthcare legislation 9 times over the past twenty years. Here is Bernie calling access to healthcare a human right back in 1993:

 

Civil Liberties (Privacy)

Again, while the overwhelming majority of the House passed the Patriot Act in 2002, giving the government extraordinary powers of surveillance, Bernie Sanders was one of 66 representatives to throw in a “nay” vote. Specifically citing his concerns of section 215 of the Patriot Act, Bernie did not acquiesce to the government’s demand for unlimited power (using terrorism as its pretext). It’s yet another example where Bernie Sanders’ concerns were ultimately proven correct. The government went on to interpret section 215 in such a way to justify warrant-less surveillance of pretty much anyone on Earth. Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the Edward Snowden disclosures wrote, “The bulk collection of domestic call records, as first revealed by the Guardian earlier this month, takes place under rolling court orders issued on the basis of a legal interpretation of a different authority, section 215 of the Patriot Act.” And here is representative Sanders citing section 215 specifically for his “nay” vote all the way back in 2002:

 

Campaign Finance

Bernie Sanders is unique in that he does not have a super PAC. Meaning he is not taking unlimited secret bribes from the wealthiest individuals in the nation. Stephen Colbert did an amazing job exposing how corrupt and ridiculous super PACs are on his show the Colbert Report:

 

Ever since the Citizens United Supreme court case decision, Bernie has been railing against the corrupting influence of money in politics. It’s one of the main rallying points around his current presidential bid, and just another political question he’s consistently gotten right over the years.

Climate Change

Bernie Sanders talking about the crisis of climate change and potential for investment in 2007:

Conclusion

Bernie Sanders has a long and unwavering history of standing up to the shadiest sectors of power in government. If there is anyone who will work for the interests of everyday American people, it’s him. As opposed to Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, Bernie openly states that a President Sanders cannot change Washington alone. And so Sanders is using his campaign to build what he calls “a political revolution”  where his growing base of supporters engage the political process whether or not he wins. As a blogger who occasionally focuses on politics (with special emphasis on national security and foreign policy),  I’m hoping to use my tiny platform to endorse the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. Please find out how you can help the prescient Senator Sanders become the Democratic Presidential candidate at voteforbernie.org.

4 Comments on "The Foresight of Bernie Sanders: on the Right Side of History"

  1. Wow, great blogpost! That was really informative, thanks for spening the time to summarize his positions.
    And it’s absolutely incredible how right Bernie has been on every single of those issues. His foresight is almost frightening.

    If i was American i’d vote for him in a heartbeat. But since i’m not, i hope many of you do 😉

    Greetings from Europe

  2. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog
    and wished to say that I have truly enjoyed surfing
    around your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!

  3. Joseph Papke | January 22, 2016 at 5:51 pm |

    As wikipedia reminds us, “in contemporary political discourse, ‘democratic socialism’ is sometimes used synonymously with social democracy.” Your “democratic socialism” link should point here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_democracy as it more accurately reflects Senator Sanders use of the term “democratic socialist”.

  4. Tara Harris | January 23, 2016 at 4:18 am |

    Great blog! Keep up the good work and keep the people informed, thank you

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