By David Starr
Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders is a determined man.
While his chances of becoming president of the United States is a long shot, Sanders has strongly proposed his policies, regardless. Here we have someone with a political spine.
Sanders' domestic policies do indeed challenge the status quo. He favors having higher education tuition-free. Sanders cites Germany, Denmark and Sweden as providing workable systems for free/affordable education. "They understand how important it is to be investing in their youth. We should be doing the same," says Sanders. (Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams, 5/17/2015) Student debt stands at $1.2 trillion in the U.S.
On healthcare Sanders has obviously made it known that he is for a single-payer system. He sponsored S. 1782, the American Health Security Act, which includes the idea that healthcare is a fundamental right.
Sanders is tackling high income inequality with a 12 step economic program. He states that "we have more wealth and income inequality than any other major country in the world." (Bernie Sanders, Huffington Post, 12/01/2014) Summarizing his program:
1) Major investments to rebuild a crumbling infrastructure. Instead of wasting $3 trillion for a war based on lies, $1 trillion would be invested to create 13 million jobs.
2) Reversing climate change. A move away from fossil fuels and investing in more sustainable energy sources.
3) Developing "new economic models" to increase production and democracy, e.g., workers cooperatives.
4) Defending unions and workers wanting to join a union.
5) Raising the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour.
6) Letting women get equal pay for equal work.
7) Stop "free" trade agreements like NAFTA and the TPP.
8) Free/affordable education.
9) Breaking up Wall Street financial institutions.
10) Establishing a single payer healthcare system.
11) Expand social programs.
12) Utilizing a more progressive tax system whereby corporations pay their fair share.
Sanders is on a possible path to supporting the full legalization of marijuana. He favors decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana.
Regarding LGBT rights, Sanders has been a supporter for 35 years. And he wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which discriminates against the LGBT community.
On foreign policy, Sanders hasn't always been progressive. While he did oppose the Iraq War, he also supported the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. The bombing contributed to Yugoslavia dissolving. Sanders also supported an aid package for the right-wing government in Ukraine and Israel's attack on Gaza, although he did say that Israel overreacted.
While Sanders favors limited intervention against ISIS, he says that "the Muslim nations are going to have to take responsibility leading that effort. It cannot be the United States of America." (Interview with National Public Radio, morning edition)
Running for the Democratic nomination for president, Sanders will at least begin some shift away from the party's center-right position. He'll also prioritize an alternative narrative on issues of public concern.