Last month, Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont, said that, although he had not yet taken any real steps, he was “prepared to run for president of the United States.”
Although pundits believe that he’s a long shot for the nation’s top office, I still hope he makes an honest go at it. It is critical for Americans to hear his progressive views to understand the actual problems we face. Facing no competition, presumed left nominee Hillary Clinton could otherwise coast on centrist stances. With Sanders speaking candidly, a genuine debate could emerge that would force Clinton to adopt a more liberal agenda.
Here are six political opinions that Sanders has articulated in recent months that we’d love to see our next leader pursue:
1. He Wants Money Out of Politics
While many in politics are wary of the Supreme Court’s damaging Citizens United decision, Sanders is actually trying to have its effects reversed by proposing a constitutional amendment. He has similarly been saddened by the more recent McCutcheon vs. FEC decision granting America’s wealthiest individuals even more power of elections, criticizing its supposed connection to the First Amendment. “Freedom of speech, in my view, does not mean the freedom to buy the United States government,” Sanders said.
2. He’s Pushing for Legitimate Health Care Reform
While most liberals are trying to polish the mess that is Obamacare, Sanders isn’t afraid to call it the “disaster” that it is. “Even if all of those problems were corrected tomorrow and if the Affordable Care Act did all that it was supposed to do, it would only be a modest step forward to dealing with the dysfunction of the American health care system,” he said. Instead, Sanders is advocating for actual reform: single-payer health care. If the fight to bring health care to the masses is this difficult anyway, why not try to provide a system that actually helps?
3. He Stands Up for Veterans
Congress seemingly has no qualms about writing blank checks to the defense department to engage in questionable wars, yet suddenly when the troops come home, politicians decide that there is no money to cover their expenses. This week, when conservatives tried to stop funding for veterans’ clinics, Sanders called out their hypocrisy. “If you think it’s too expensive, then don’t send them off to war,” Sanders said. “Taking care of veterans is a cost of the war. They already paid for it.”
4. He Sees Wealth Inequality for What It Is
“Income inequality is the great moral issue of our time,” Sanders told his constituents. Citing the massive gap between this country’s wealthy and poor, and the fact that the bottom 60 percent of Americans owns only 2.3 percent of the wealth, he calls for economic reforms to help tip back this staggering inequity. For starters, he supports raising the minimum wage, particularly when the most profitable corporations in the world, like Walmart, are paying their employees substandard rates and having the government supplement these workers with welfare programs.
5. He’s Against Government Surveillance
Sanders has come out as one of Congress’s staunchest opponents of the NSA, arguing that the United States cannot be considered a “free” society if the government is recording your phone calls and tracking your emails. When he asked the NSA specifically whether they have monitored members of Congress, the NSA almost hilariously told him that they couldn’t verify that for him as it would violate his privacy. Sanders supports clemency for Edward Snowden, valuing the truth he exposed to the world.
6. He Understands Imminent Danger
While everyone is in a tizzy over the threat of “terrorism,” Sanders has his priorities straight. In an interview about how big business is killing the globe, he said, “Global warming is a far more serious problem than al Qaeda.” As he sees it, there is a chance of terrorism killing some of us, but there is a certainty of climate change eventually killing all of us. The fact that we can devote so much effort to eradicating a potential threat while outright ignoring a more concrete threat is ridiculous.