US election 2016: Profile of Bernie Sanders, Democrat

By @diplomatist10 on
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U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders attends a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire January 4, 2016. Reuters/Gretchen Ertl

In the run up to the US presidential elections 2016, most people see Hillary Clinton as the front-runner for Democratic nomination. But in the campaign trail, Bernie Sanders, the Senator from Vermont as a fellow aspirant has made an impression, thanks to his vast experience and serious outlook on various issues.

Interestingly, the 74-year old veteran is heard more by younger voters. In his lectures, Sanders harps on the effects of inequities emanating from unequal income distribution. At the hustings, Sanders has succeeded in galvanising the progressive left and his impact is expected at the early-voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Profile

Born in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City, 74-year old Sanders graduated from the University of Chicago in 1964. Right from his student days in the 1960s, Sanders was active in Young People's Socialist League and showed his interest in civil rights issues. He was a participant in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where the famous “I Have a Dream" speech was delivered by Martin Luther King Jr.

In 2010, Sanders made news when he delivered an eight-and-a-half-hour speech on the Senate floor to protest the extension of tax cuts by the Presidency of George W. Bush.

Fiscal reforms

Sanders is quite vocal about reforms in the system and it reflected well in a recent Portland speech where he said, “America today is the wealthiest country in the history of the world.”

“But most people don’t know that, most people don’t feel that, most people don’t see that—because almost all of the wealth rests in the hands of a tiny few,” Sanders added, writes New Yorker .  

Voters are in rapt attention, as Sanders talk about banishing money from politics and criticises the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision to permit unlimited campaign spending by corporations. Sanders is also pledging to rise the federal minimum wage to 15 dollars per hour.

Authentic

For admirers, Sanders is all about “authenticity,” which many people are loathe to apply to fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton. While “most candidates are robotic and rehearsed Bernie is a real person,” noted a voter, Dawn York.

In terms of political belief, Sanders has been a democratic socialist for many decades. Noting the interest on Sanders among the younger voters, Peter Dreier, a professor of politics at Occidental College said younger voters “may not be willing to entertain a whole new system, but are open to a profound critique of the current one. They’re not as naïve as Americans used to be during the Cold War—they know that there are varieties of capitalism, that there is social democracy in Scandinavia and Canada, where the government plays a bigger role in regulating corporations and expanding the safety net.”

Stand on issues

On many issues, Clinton and Sanders carry similar stands. On women's rights and women's-health issues, Sanders' and Clinton's positions are almost identical. Both support equal-pay bills, universal pre-kindergarten education programs and paid family leave, notes Business Insider.

Beyond the identical views, Sanders has shaped up as a challenger with genuine credentials to be a progressive alternative to Clinton. Now the primaries are set to give that final verdict very soon.