Still think Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is a fringe candidate and a wild-eyed socialist? The GOP candidates, Hillary Clinton, and the billionaires who’ve stolen our country would love for us to think so.
But Moyers and Company reminds us that those who underestimate Sanders do so at their peril. Especially since most Americans agree on what he has to say.
But Sanders’s positions are quite mainstream from the point of view of the stances of the American public in general. Of course, the 1 percent, for whom and by whom most mainstream media report, are appalled and would like to depict him as an outlier.
Sanders has long stood with liberals on education, war, the environment, women’s health, and equal rights for women, people of color and LGBT people. But he’s also the only candidate to take the lead on issues that impact ordinary Americans every single day, and which most of our leaders refuse to seriously discuss or address.
As President Barack Obama joked at the Annual White House Correspondents Dinner back in April, after Sanders announced he was joining the 2016 race:
“Apparently they really want to see a pot smoking socialist in the White House. We could get a third Obama term after all.”
And the wonderful thing about Sanders is…He doesn’t care whether we think he can win. He’s surprised people many times before, and could very well do it again.
Polls show America’s with Sanders on 10 major issues.
You may find this shocking, but polls from Gallup, Pew, Rasmussen and others show that Sanders is squarely in the main stream when it comes to most of the issues we care about and hear about in the news.
- Curbing Big Money in Politics: Sanders isn’t the only one fed up with billionaires buying Congress. Half of us want public financing for national political campaigns, along with spending limits on campaigns and contributions. Even 48 percent of independents and 41 percent of Republicans support this. During the 2012 election, 66 percent said they oppose Citizens United, and 55 percent do not agree that corporations are people.
- Breaking up the big banks: Sanders thinks “too big to fail means too big to exist,” and most of us agree with him. 55 percent believe that next time, the U.S. government should let failing big banks go out of business. Only 26 percent of us have “a great deal” of confidence in our banks, with 43 percent more saying they’ve got just “some” confidence.
- Reducing the wealth gap: We’re also with Sanders on income inequality. Americans love it when people get rich, and hope it happens to us someday. But we also love fairness and for all of us to start out on a fairly level field. 63 percent of us want money and wealth distributed more evenly and more broadly. That includes a surprising 42 percent of those who describe themselves as conservatives. We also agree that American workers are long overdue for a pay hike, especially at the bottom of the wage ladder. 76 percent would raise the minimum wage to at least $9.00 per hour, and 69 percent would index the minimum wage to rise with the rate of inflation. Yet Congress continues to do nothing.
- Making healthcare affordable: America’s definitely not ready for the kind of socialized healthcare Sanders proposes. Then again, an awful lot of us hated Obamacare until our health coverage kicked in. It sounds crazy, but people actually like being able to see the doctor or deal with a medical emergency without going bankrupt. In 2013, only 29 percent were happy with how the government handles healthcare. Now, satisfaction has shot up to 43 percent. These numbers would be much higher if we didn’t have 21 GOP governors denying healthcare to their own constituents.
- Making college affordable: Sanders believes higher education is a right, and America’s not far behind him, at least at the community college level. Only 21 percent of us believe higher education is affordable. Gallup finds that 70 percent of college grads carry student loan debt, and that this burden takes a heavy toll on their financial and physical health. No wonder a whopping 83 percent of likely voters want to lower student loan interest rates.
- Keeping Social Security and Medicare: When it comes to these successful and much-loved safety net programs, we’re as far left as Sanders. Over and over and over again, a vast majority of Americans say they want NO CUTS to Social Security and Medicare, and are absolutely sure these programs will remain solvent. In fact, we want it expanded, not cut. 71 percent want to raise the income cap to help keep the program viable. Yet Republicans and neo-liberals keep trying to eliminate, privatize and cut back on these programs.
- Rebuilding our infrastructure: 77 percent of respondents support “a federal government program that would put people to work on urgent infrastructure repairs,” such as roads, bridges, railways, ports, and our energy grid. That would go a long way towards creating the well-paid, skilled, and non-exportable construction jobs we’ve been lacking. When “government spending” is directly mentioned, support drops, but only down to a still overwhelming 72 percent.
- Fighting climate change: A strong majority of Americans — and even 37 percent of conservative Republicans — believe the effects of climate change will happen within our lifetimes. And a New York Times poll found 83 percent of us — along with 61 percent of Republicans and 86 percent of Independents — agree that global warming will become a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem.
- Legalizing marijuana: While economic issues are more in Sanders’ wheelhouse, he let his fans on Reddit know he supports legalization in a Q&A. Marijuana is already legal in Sanders’ home state and 53 percent of us want to make cannabis legal. This number has been slowly creeping up over the years, especially among younger voters.
- The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): Most of us support free trade in theory, but see actual trade deals like NAFTA and TPP as screwing us royally in the jobs department. A recent Reuters/IPSOS poll claims most Americans think free trade is “beneficial,” yet Public Citizen points out that these polls failed to actually mention TPP by name. When asked how we feel about the actual results of fustercluck trading pacts like NAFTA and TAFTA, we sound an awful lot like Sanders. 84 percent want protection for U.S. manufacturing jobs and 73 percent want bans on currency manipulation — neither of which are in TPP. 46 percent believe our trade agreements have cost us jobs and made wages lower. Only 17 percent think they’ve helped create jobs, and only 11 percent think they’ve raised wages.
Oh, but isn’t Sanders one of those scary socialists? As he told George Stephanopoulos one Sunday morning, “that’s right. And what’s wrong with that?”