Bernie Sanders: By the People, For the People

Real Talk | Amber Papas | February 9, 2016

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It’s rare to find a candidate who isn’t attempting to just play politics. We’re so used to candidates who are searching for political office more than better public policy that we’ve lost all faith in the political process. We’ve become apathetic. But there is change in the air as one candidate running for a presidential nomination has begun to gain traction.

The name of that candidate is Bernie Sanders.

Bernard (lovingly called “Bernie”) Sanders is currently a junior United States senator from Vermont. While he is running for the Democratic Party nomination, as of 2015, Sanders had been the longest-serving independent in United States congressional history. His history is one of fighting for change within our countrybernie that will benefit all people. A history that has often positioned Sanders under the harsh criticism of other congressmen.

Sanders was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York who grew up in a poor Jewish family that was crammed in a small apartment. His father, Eli, was a Polish immigrant who came to the United States in 1917 without a penny to his name or an education. His father was a hard worker and sold paint to scrape by a living for his wife and two sons. This made a huge impression on Bernie whose political career has been an effort to help the middle and lower classes within our nation. When his mother died at the young age of 46, Bernie Sanders left the apartment in Brooklyn and headed to Hyde Park.

“Sanders call to a ‘political revolution’ has fired the once apathetic minds of our generation.”

Bernie attended the University of Chicago where he paid for his education through a combination of part-time jobs, grants, and loans. At the University of Chicago, Bernie Sanders was a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), joined the Young People’s Socialist League, and an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He led a rally in 1962 at the University of Chicago administration building to protest the segregated campus housing policy. After the Bernie_university_chicagorally, he and thirty-two other students went into the building and camped outside university president George Beadie’s office. In doing so, he led the first civil rights sit-in in Chicago history. In 1963, Sanders took an overnight bus to Washington D.C. to participate in the March on Washington where he witnessed Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Sander’s political philosophy that he adopted in Hyde Park created a lasting impression on the Vermont senator. He later said that it showed him “that you could have a community in which the people themselves actually owned the community.” This mentality has been adopted by his campaign and applied on a national level. Sanders call to a “political revolution” has fired the once apathetic minds of our generation. It is allowing us to believe that there is someone in political office that wants to make the nation better for all people, not just the wealthy. Sanders’ campaign has been one of rallying calls to get involved, to care, and to not sit idly by as the world around us is determined by the big money in politics.

Letting Our Voices be Heard

One of the defining characteristics of Bernie Sanders’ campaign has been his commitment to the everyday American. Unlike the other candidates, Sanders’ campaign has been almost entirely financed by small individual contributions. On December 19, 2015, his campaign had reached 2.3 million individual donations, higher than President Obama’s campaign at the same point in his election campaign. As of January 31, 2016, a startling 98% of Sanders total finances came from his individual contributions. This is a fact that Sanders’ campaign has been extremely proud of. Just 24-hours after the Iowa caucus on February 1, 2016,  the bernie_2Sanders campaign had received $3 million in individual donations, with the average donation being $27. In a speech on that same day, Bernie Sanders stated, “I am overwhelmed and I am moved by the fact that millions of people throughout this country have helped in this campaign.

Sanders has no desire to have big money, such as super PACs and PACs, in his run for presidency. It’s a refreshing change from the situation we’ve become so used to: where the wealthy billionaires are able to buy elections. While Clinton talks about getting big money out of politics, Sanders is not only talking about it, he’s actually doing it and showing what a campaign would look like without the big money donations.

“I fear very much that, in fact, government of the people, by the people, and for the people is beginning to perish in the United States of America.” — Bernie Sanders

While his campaign shows his commitment to having American voices being heard over the wealthy, he’s doing more than that. Sanders is calling for what he calls a “political revolution.” What he is proposing is all of America standing up together and demanding their voices be heard. His website states, “I fear very much that, in fact, government of the people, by the people, and for the people is beginning to perish in the United States of America,” and this is something he is desperately trying to make sure doesn’t happen.

Most of his supporters are young people, which are notoriously unreliable in the political process. Instead of seeing this as a downfall, he sees it as an opportunity for young people to get involved in the system that will ultimately decide their futures. He’s calling us all to stand up together and begin a revolution.

Fighting for Everyday Americans’ Livelihoods

The growing income inequality in America hasn’t escaped Bernie’s notice. With the rich only getting richer, and the poor only finding themselves closer to poverty, Bernie is fighting to make sure this gap doesn’t continue to expand. On his website, Sanders states that “America now has more wealth and income inequality than any

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other major developed country on earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is wider than at any time since the 1920s.” So how is he going to change this?

Sanders understands that it is impossible in our current society to live off of $7.25 an hour wage even if one were to work forty hours a week. Instead of being thankful that he’s a senator and doesn’t happen to find himself in the situation of struggling to get by, Sanders’ is fighting for what he calls a living wage. This living wage would move the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour. He believes that nobody who works forty hours a week should be living in poverty, or struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table.

“America now has more wealth and income inequality than any other major developed country on earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is wider than at any time since the 1920s.” — Bernie Sanders Website

Having a higher minimum wage is no good if there’s no jobs, right? Well, Sanders has a plan for that too. He plans to put “at least 13 million Americans to work by investing $1 trillion over five years towards rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, railways, airports, public transit systems, ports, dams, wastewater plants, and other infrastructure needs.” This would help the American people and also help people have better public transportation whether that be through buses, metros, trains, or car. More so, he wants to reverse the trade policies that are exporting jobs out to China that have resulted in wages being driven downwards and the loss of millions of jobs. This will only serve to bring even more jobs to the nation and more people out of poverty or the lower class.

Understands that College is a Need, Not a Want

Going along with fighting for everyday Americans, Sanders is also trying to help our generation. As we all know, the cost of college is downright outrageous. Many of us struggle to pay for classes, nonetheless books and housing. We live in a society where almost every job on the market requires us to have a college bachelors degree at the least. With college being more expensive than ever, Sanders has a plan. That plan is to make tuition free at public colleges and universities. Some of your mouths may have dropped, but this isn’t too radical since European countries have already put this into place. It still may sound a little too good to be bernie_3true, but he has a plan to play for it. Sanders wants to charge Wallstreet a speculation tax that will generate $300 billion in revenue.

“Sanders is also trying to help our generation.”

What does that mean for the rest of us who already have student loans? Sanders hasn’t forgotten about those who are in college or have recently graduated and are still struggling to pay off student loans. Sanders has said that as President he will “prevent the federal government from profiteering on the backs of college students.” His website states that over the next decade, it’s been estimated that the federal government will make a profit of over $110 billion on student loan programs. Instead of just taking that money and running with it, he wants to use the money instead to “significantly lower student loan interest rates.” Since student loan rates have only been on the rise, Sanders plans to reset student loan interest rates to where they were at in 2006: just 2.37%. For those who are already paying off student loans, Sanders wants to let them refinance their student loans at today’s lower rates.

Healthcare is a Right

In the first three months of 2015, 29 million Americans went uninsured, that is 9.2% of the United States population. In 2014, Americans spent $3 trillion dollars on health care every year, with the average American spending $9,596. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in 2015 the United States spent $8,713 per person on health care, more than any other country in the world who average at $3,453. That is a lot of money for the United States to have the ninth highest average life expectancy. When the Affordable Care

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Act (often called Obamacare) was passed in 2010, many believed that our health care woes were over. That the entire nation would be insured and all would be fine. But that hasn’t proven to be the case. Many Americans are still uninsured and struggling to pay medical bills that have only continued to be on the rise, most notably the cost of deductibles.

Sanders wants to change this. He believes that: “Health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege. Every man, woman, and child in our country should be able to access the health care they need, regardless of income.”

To accomplish this, Sanders wants to create a single-payer national health care program. A single-payer health care system is “a system in which a single public of quasi-public agency organizes health care financing, but the delivery of care remains largely in private hands.” This would mean premiums would disappear, co-pays and deductibles would no longer be barriers to care, and there would be free choice of where to receive care (no more worrying about if a doctor takes your insurance. It’s been estimated that 95% of all households would save money.

“Health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege. Every man, woman, and child in our country should be able to access the health care they need, regardless of income.” — Bernie Sanders

It almost sounds too good to be true, until you look at how he wants to pay for this. He wants to have, what he calls “Medicare for All,” paid for by “a 6.2 percent income-based health care premium paid by employers, a 2.2 percent income-based premium paid by households, progressive income tax rates, taxing capital gains and dividends the same as income from work, limiting tax deductions for the rich, adjusting the estate tax, and savings from health tax expenditures.” While that is a handful to say, it pretty much means raising taxes. Yes, I said it. Sanders has

received a lot of criticism for this, but Americans would be saving money since it would average $5000 a year on health care in taxes versus $9,000 plus in health

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care costs. In reality, they will be spending more than $4,000, from not paying deductibles, co-pays, and premiums.

Bernie Sanders understands that the current state of America isn’t working for everyday people.

He’s fighting to make sure that we can receive the healthcare and education we need to be successful. Sanders is fighting for our voices to be heard, for us to have a career and a future that looks bright. He is fighting for a better nation. His campaign is casting some light on our regularly dull and cynical world, where we

leave college only to worry about how we will pay for it, how we will find a job, how we will get health insurance, how we will make a life for ourselves. Instead of worrying about it alone, we now have a political candidate who is worrying about it with us.

Sanders is fighting for us, so let’s fight for him.

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With tough competition in the form of Hillary Clinton, Sanders needs all the support and votes we have. So let us no longer be apathetic, accepting our fate. Let’s make the choices that need to be made to ensure that we have the future we always wanted and vote for Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders is of the people, by the people, and for the people. and he’s fighting for us, so let’s fight for him.