A Closer Look: Bernie Sanders

In this photo taken May 20, 2015, Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., poses for a portrait before an interview with The Associated Press in Washington. For Democrats who had hoped to lure Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren into a presidential campaign, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders might be the next best thing. Sanders, who is opening his official presidential campaign Tuesday in Burlington, Vermont, aims to ignite a grassroots fire among left-leaning Democrats wary of Hillary Rodham Clinton. He is laying out an agenda in step with the party's progressive wing and compatible with Warren's platform _ reining in Wall Street banks, tackling college debt and creating a government-financed infrastructure jobs program. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

By Muhammad Sattaur

Hillary Clinton isn’t the only candidate wooing the hearts of liberals across the nation. Senator Bernie Sanders has been making notable headway in recent weeks and months as he stays active on the press circuit. Polling numbers and internet buzz are reflecting a level of support and interest that has surprised many. How much concern should this be generating for the Clinton camp at this point? That remains hard to pin down just yet.

First, though – let’s take a moment to learn a bit about the Senator. Sanders is the junior Senator from the state of Vermont, and a graduate of the University of Chicago. While his official political party listing is Independent he caucuses with the Democratic Party. Sanders is particularly well-known for his favorable views of certain socialist policies. While this may act to alienate many right-wing and centrist voters, it could be just the thing to draw in voters not satisfied with the barely functional political machine that Washington DC has become.

His official website (www.berniesanders.com) outlines five major issues which Sanders views as critical to our country and requiring immediate action:

1. Creating decent paying jobs.

2. Income and wealth inequality.

3. Getting big money out of politics.

4. Climate Change & Environment.

5. A Living Wage.

It is no mistake that three of these issues center around income. Indeed, Sanders has shown great dedication to bridging the income gap that has increasingly found its way into the national spotlight. Sanders has put thought and action behind his words, fighting against disproportionate tax policies that offer unnecessary concessions to the obscenely wealthy. This acts to attract many of the low and middle income voters who find themselves disillusioned that top earners are often able to pay far lower percentages of their income in taxes. Others do, admittedly, fear the targeting of higher income earners – but as these earners are mostly in the top 1%, the voter loss attributed to these concerns may be expected to be very little.

Now – it’s worth also noting that Sanders has been outspoken about his hopes to model our higher education systems after those of some more liberal European countries. Specifically, this could lead to tuition-free public universities paid for by taxation on large corporations. As more and more students leave college burdened by weighty student loans this message could attract young voters who are often too apathetic to engage in the democratic process. Additionally, such educational investment could pay dividends in ways not readily apparent. A more educated populace means more research & innovation, which are crucial to maintain economic growth and military superiority.

The Sanders camp as its work cut out for it, as challenging Hillary is going to be an onerous task for any candidate. That said – we’re seeing the introduction to what Sanders’ Presidential team is capable of right now, and it paints a picture that seems to confirm Hillary’s fears are justified. Youth appeal and disillusionment of those in lower income brackets may be just the driving force Sanders needs to make his stand.

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