Run Bernie, Run

Bernie Sanders is an unlikely candidate for president of the United States. He’s a United States senator from Vermont. He speaks with a Brooklyn accent and he is going to be 74 years old. He is Jewish. He’s a socialist and an independent that caucuses with the Democrats. He is also one of the most honest and decent men I have ever known. I’ve been interviewing him for years on public radio, and he is absolutely a force of nature. He truly believes that this country has screwed the middle class and the poor and rewarded a few oligarchs who control so much money that the situation has become obscene. In Vermont everyone knows who “Bernie” is. That didn’t stop the New York Times from calling him “Bernard” Sanders in their original story announcing that he would run for president. Let me tell you, he ain’t Bernard, he’s Bernie. He calls himself Bernie and he sees himself as the candidate of the poor, the middle class and the disenfranchised. While most people think he could never win he doesn’t believe that.

There is a huge part of the Democratic Party that embodies the left of center views of Bernie Sanders, and in a competition with Hillary Clinton, Sanders is going to get a lot of votes. To so many of these voters the Clintons are yesterday’s news. More and more the country has a single party in the minds of these folks. The new and unofficial party is the Republicrats. They cater to the rich and depend on them for huge campaign donations. Bernie says he has no illusions about the money that will be available to his opponents both in the Democratic and Republican parties but he says that when he runs in Vermont, his campaigns have always been funded by small amounts from individual voters. He says that’s the way it will be in this presidential campaign. It certainly worked for Barack Obama and the advent of social media will help Bernie raise money a little bit at a time. People will see him as what he is: a shirt sleeves guy who really dislikes what this country has become — a prisoner of the few rich people who own so much of the country’s wealth. Every story that surfaces about Hillary and Bill Clinton and their tapping into the wealth of the very rich will only help Bernie Sanders’ campaign. I have a very close relative who has already told me that while she used to love Bill Clinton, she is voting for Bernie Sanders. She inevitably picks winners.

We know that the left segment of the Democratic Party has been very upset that their choice for a leader, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, has eschewed a race against Hillary Clinton. That has left the way clear for Bernie Sanders who has always stated that his reasons for getting into the race was to offer a true alternative candidacy to the same-old, same-old and also to win. Obviously there is a full court press against Clinton by the Republicans who must be scared to death by the polls that have shown her taking on all comers. If by the time of the primary and the unceasing attacks on Clinton, Sanders is the only alternative candidate to Clinton, he might have what seems like a hopeless shot at beating Clinton, just as Barack Obama did when he came out of nowhere. There is one more thing in his favor. Sanders is promising a big fix and this country is sick of the namby-pamby centrists who can’t seem to make any real change so they can vote for the people with big ideas like Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama. On the other hand if Clinton falters there will be a rush of others to get into the race, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Lyndon Johnson announced that he was through. In any case I can only say, “Run, Bernie, run.”

Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 5/4/15

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