By Yezdyar S. Kaoosji
Bernie Sanders, the son of a Polish immigrant, was born in Brooklyn, educated in Chicago and settled in Vermont. As a student, he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and went to jail for his work on school desegregation. He worked as a carpenter and a documentary filmmaker and, in 1981, he defeated the incumbent Democrat to serve as mayor of Burlington for four terms. He is the longest serving Independent U.S. Congressperson and caucuses with Democrats. He served as Vermont’s Representative at-large from 1991 until he became a U.S. senator in 2007.
Unconventional: Because his campaign was not crafted in backrooms by lobbyists and political consultants. He responded to the surge of support inspired by the socioeconomic-political positions he advocated and legislated for more than three decades of public service.
However, the policies he is proposing are far from unconventional. They are bread-and-butter issues that affect the lives of a majority of Americans irrespective of party affiliation. These positions inspired the grassroots movement to motivate him to run for President.
Unconventional: Because the election system is stacked against a third-party candidate, he decided to seek the nomination of the Democratic Party and affect it from within. As the nominee, his “people issues” will become the Democratic Party platform.
Unconventional: Because he does not have a Super PAC and will not accept donations from the Wall Street establishment and billionaires who finance politicians, like betting at the horse races.
In Congress, he has voted against wars, opposed the Patriot Act and trade agreements that exported jobs. He has combated financial institutions that caused a global meltdown and has challenged the military industrial complex and pharmaceutical and fossil fuel corporations for various abuses.
A Message from Bernie
As of this week, visitors to BernieSanders. com will notice something new. We are introducing “Democracy Daily,” a new online “newspaper” covering the major issues of importance to our country. I see “Democracy Daily” as a place people can visit regularly to stay informed about the challenges we face—and what can be done about them.
In my view, if we are to successfully address the many crises facing the working families of this country, it is absolutely imperative that our people engage in serious analysis and discussion of those crises. Democracy is not a spectator sport. At this moment in history, when there is so much political alienation and despair, nothing is more important than trying to create a well-informed and politically active citizenry.
Sadly, much of today’s media treats politics as if it were a baseball game or a soap opera. They are often more interested in stories about the political process—in polls, money or gossip—than in covering the real needs of the American people. Democracy Daily is intended to help fill the unmet need for serious discussion of serious issues.
Democracy Daily will draw on some of the best thinkers in our country for its content. Some of them may not even agree with me on every issue, but it’s important that we engage our best minds in an exchange of ideas. As part of this process, we will also point you to useful and informative articles from other outlets.
The campaign Web site will continue to keep you informed about election news from around the country—about where I am and what I’m doing. But Democracy Daily will give you background on why I am running and the issues I will continue to discuss on the campaign trail.
These are just a few of the issues we plan to discuss in Democracy Daily:
We are the wealthiest nation in human history, but what does that really mean when most of the gains are going to a few people at the top?
For the last 40 years, the great middle class of our country—once the envy of the world—has been disappearing. Despite exploding technology and increased worker productivity, median family income is almost $5,000 less than it was in 1999. What can we do about it?
The real unemployment rate is much higher than the “official” figures report. More than half of African- American youth are unemployed or underemployed. How can we put our nation back to work?
Wall Street’s major institutions are still too big to fail—and, years after they nearly destroyed the economy, bankers still bend or break the law without being punished. How do we create a financial system that works for all of America, and not just a handful of extremely wealthy people?
Our campaign finance system is broken and corrupt, allowing billionaires to buy elections. What kind of campaign finance system do we need in order to create a vibrant democracy and high voter turnouts?
What is the most effective way of combatting the international crisis of climate change? What is the fastest and most effective way to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels?
Immigrants are being denied basic rights and opportunities. Families are being separated by unjust laws and practices. How can we implement a comprehensive and just immigration policy?
How do we best go forward in joining the rest of the industrialized world in guaranteeing health care for all as a right?
As I have often said, this campaign is not about Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush or anyone else. This campaign is about the needs of the American people, and the ideas and proposals that effectively address those needs. This is the kind of campaign I believe the American people want and deserve. This is the kind of campaign I will run.
Democracy Daily is our latest tool for keeping this election focused on informed, substantive discussion of the issues that matter most to the American people. It can be found at www.berniesanders.com/daily.
I hope you will join us there.
Yezdyar Kaoosji is a member of the “Bernie for Fresno” Steering Group. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at “Fresno for Bernie.”