In this weekly series, I focus on one potential Democratic candidate and analyze whether or not they would be a good candidate to face Trump.
Since Sen. Bernie Sanders lost in the 2016 Democratic primary for president, his supporters have continually and enthusiastically encouraged another run in 2020. Whether Sanders would consider another bid was speculative, until a recent interview with MSNBC changed the narrative.
“I will make that decision at the appropriate time . . . we’re looking at it,” said Sanders.
What propelled Sanders from being a relatively unknown Senator from Vermont to a household name was his populist campaign that promised Americans an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy. His message resonated with those who are tired of the status quo.
One of Sanders’ most prominent campaign promises was Medicare-for-all. He believes healthcare is a right, not a privilege, and that the only long-term fix for our broken healthcare system is a single-payer system. According to his website, his proposed system would save the average middle-class American $5000 a year on health insurance.
Another major campaign issue is campaign finance reform. Sanders made it well known that he would only appoint Supreme Court Justices that were in favor of overturning Citizens United. He also advocates for a constitutional amendment that gives Congress and individual states clear authority to regulate money in politics. Sanders has promised to fight for a publicly financed and transparent system for funding elections, and is strongly in favor of abolishing Super PACs.
In his 2016 bid for the presidency, Sanders vowed to never take money from corporations or Super PACs. By June 2016, Sanders had raised over $220 million, a staggering amount, which was overwhelmingly made up of small dollar donations. The average donation was just $27. It is clear that fundraising is not an issue for the Vermont Senator.
A third monumental pillar to Sanders’ campaign is wealth and income inequality.
“The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time, and it is the great political issue of our time,” said Sanders.
He has proposed increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour, which he calls a “starvation wage,” to $15 an hour. He has also made it clear he will force corporations to pay their fair share in taxes by closing tax loopholes and stopping companies from sending jobs overseas. He also promises to break up financial institutions that are “too big to fail”.
His positions on healthcare and the economy resonate well with Americans. 70% of Americans support Medicare-for-all, according to a Reuters poll. In a CBS News Poll, 66% of Americans agree with the statement that “the money and wealth in this country should be more evenly distributed among more people.” Bernie Sanders has been fighting for these issues for decades, and it is clear that he truly believes in fighting for the middle class.
Other policy positions of his include aggressively fighting climate change, making college tuition debt-free, reforming our broken criminal justice system, fighting for gender and LGBT+ equality, addressing disenfranchisement among African American voters, creating a humane immigration system, and fighting for more affordable housing.
Bernie Sanders’ message resonates strongly with young voters, who arguably will make up the most important demographic the Democrats will need to take back the White House in 2020.
In the states that had voted by June 1, 2016, Sanders had received 29% more votes of people under 30 than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump combined. Sanders’ ability to energize the youth vote would be an incredible asset in unseating President Trump.
Additionally, in polls that predict potential matchups, Bernie Sanders consistently holds a double-digit lead over President Trump, with the latest Morning Consult poll putting Sanders at 44% and Trump at 32%, with 24% undecided.
Bernie Sanders is clearly one of the best chances Democrats have at retaking the White House in 2020. Passing up a strong populist with policies that appeal to a winning demographic would be a missed opportunity for Democrats looking to take back the executive.
Austin Elliott is an opinion columnist for the Eastern Echo.