Bernie Sanders Challenges Expectations for Democrats

By Erin Bloodgood

Elm Staff Writer

I was ready. I really was. I ordered the sticker, put it on my car, took a picture of it and posted it to all of my social media accounts (do you really do something if you don’t post about it on social media?) I was ready for Hillary, or so I thought. As the weeks progressed and people talked about the candidates I kept hearing one name: Bernie Sanders. Who is Sanders? What is his platform?  What does he value? What are his tactics? If you’ve never heard the name Bernie Sanders or if you’ve heard of him but don’t know much about him, this article is for you; if you hate him or don’t care about anyone who is running for president, then maybe this article will open your eyes.

Bernard “Bernie” Sanders is a senator and a former congressman from Vermont. He served as a congressman for 16 years before being elected as a senator in 2006 and then again in 2012. He announced his candidacy for president back in May and has been gaining in popularity ever since. Sanders is a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidential election in 2016. He is 74 (his birthday was Sept. 8, Happy Birthday Bernie!) and lives in Burlington, Vt. with his wife Jane.

As a congressman, Sanders established himself as an independent but did work with the Democrats during his time there. He was elected as a Senator in 2006 and was appointed to several committees such as the Committee on Budget, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the Committee on Veterans Affairs, the Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works and the Energy & Natural Resources Committee. He advocated for middle class working families, health care reform, and alternative energy sources.

Formerly seen as a fringe candidate, Bernie Sanders has struck a chord with Democrat voters and has challenged frotrunner Hillary Clinton in recent polls.
Formerly seen as a fringe candidate, Bernie Sanders has struck a chord with Democrat voters and has challenged frotrunner Hillary Clinton in recent polls.

Sanders’s platform includes tackling income and wealth inequality. He wants to ensure that large corporations and the wealthy pay their “fair share of taxes.” He also wants to enforce taxes on Wall Street. Sanders is an advocate for a living wage, something that has been a hot topic lately. He also is in favor of repairing America’s crumbling infrastructure by fixing roadways, bridges, and the many other areas of infrastructure that have been neglected.

Sanders values education and wants to try to make education free at public colleges and universities in the US. As a student with debt that racks up every year I can say I am most interested in candidates who value the importance of education and want to make it easier for everyone, not just those who can afford it. Sanders is advocating for Veterans’ Affairs, equal pay, expanding social security, labor unions, and a single payer health care system. Sanders also promotes issues such as racial justice, demilitarizing our police, and introducing body cameras for all law enforcement officials. He also plans to assess other areas of injustice such as political and economic violence that citizens face.

Sanders also stands for the rights of women both in income inequality and reproductive rights.  He wants to make childcare and pre-k available to all Americans regardless of income. He wants to provide at least 12 weeks of paid family leave to American workers. This is an important subject area for many women to consider.

Now that we’ve seen some of Sander’s plans, let’s look at his campaign. Right now the candidates are all vying for the nomination of their party while at the same time explaining their policies to potential voters. Large crowds of people have gathered to hear Sander speak, thousands rallied in Reno, Chicago, and Wisconsin.

One thing that sets Sanders apart from the other nominees is the fact that he is not accepting campaign contributions from corporations or billionaires.  According to The Washington Post when Sanders first announced his candidacy he said, “I will not be part of any Super PAC. Throughout my career I have not taken any corporate PAC money. That will remain for this race as well.” That has remained true; Sanders is being funded by small donations from supporters, not large Super PACs. According to, he has raised $15 million from ordinary citizens with most donations averaging no more than $30.

Bernie Sanders has drawn large crowds, inspired supporters to donate, and has topped the polls (on Sept. 10 her surpassed Hillary Clinton in an Iowa poll), all for good reasons. He advocates for workers, women, war veterans, and minorities of America. He is winning small victories while staying away from corporate money. He speaks in a genuine and down to earth manner that has hundreds of thousands of people supporting him. Who knows if Sanders will win the Democratic nomination or one day become president? However, I look forward to seeing how his campaign progresses and to replacing the sticker on my car.

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