With the 2020 elections nearing, preparations are in full swing – despite the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
In fact, in such trying times, citizens look up to their politicians to provide guidance and take action to help the nation through the crisis.
So if you’re a responsible citizen with a conscience that requires you to nominate the best candidate for president, I’ve put together a detailed guide of Bernie Sanders on the issues.
Who is Bernie Sanders?
Before we get into Bernie Sanders on the issues, it’s important to understand that Sanders is a politician who claims to fight for the rights of the average American citizen, an approach similar to that of former President Barack Obama.
Currently, he’s a senator in Vermont who has served for over 12 years.
He’s the last child to Jewish immigrants from Poland and his father worked as a paint salesman in Brooklyn, New York where Sanders spent most of his childhood; thus, exposing him to the struggles of being a working-class citizen.
And with that came his inspiration to be a politician and fight for the inequalities in the American justice system.
At present, he is married to his second wife, Jane Sanders. The two are parents to their only son, Levi Sanders:
Unlike President Trump, Sanders has been a politician from the start of his professional life.
He served as mayor of Burlington, Vermont for four terms and went on to earn a seat in the House of Representatives; thus, establishing himself as one of the first independent legislators of the nation.
Sanders ran for the last presidential campaign but later dropped out of the race and nominated Hilary Clinton.
He then announced his candidacy for the 2020 elections on 19th February 2019 and currently remains mere points ahead of President Trump in polls but behind Joe Biden:
Bernie Sanders on the issues
#1. Coronavirus Outbreak
There were 3 main things that Sanders called for in response to the global pandemic:
- Strengthening the healthcare system
Sanders, among many other politicians including Hilary Clinton, called to pass the emergency ‘coronavirus bill’, a bill that would allow citizens to access free testing, treatment and expected vaccine, as well as sick, paid leave for those who were affected.
The reason for backing this bill was to protect citizens within the lowest income class to ensure that they had access to all required facilities.
Apart from this, Sanders called for an increase in medical facilities through a number of different factors.
First, he proposed that the public and private health sector join hands as there was a shortage of ICUs, ventilators, hospital staff, and other facilities.
He also proposed to implement successful testing models as he emphasised the lack of testing capacity. There is still a shortage of testing kits in the country which is being imported from China and this lack of testing is resulting in surging rates of affected patients as well as deaths:
Sanders also called for an increase in primary healthcare centers as well as utilisation of military resources to combat the rapidly increasing virus more effectively, all while keeping medical healthcare workers safe.
- Establish an economic crisis agency to handle economic impacts
An inevitable side effect of the coronavirus is throwing the global economy into recession.
For this very reason, many countries around the globe set up an economic committee to minimize and manage the economic losses faced due to the outbreak.
Sanders proposed to provide relief to small and medium-sized businesses by keeping employees on payroll.
Private businesses are being forced to lay-off workers or completely shut down due to severe losses but through government support, they can manage to remain open without unemployment until the crisis is averted.
Sanders also proposed to inject direct cash payments of $2000 per month to each household in order to provide relief.
He addressed the nation to announce these reliefs which included student loans being waived off till the duration of the crisis as well as emergency paid and medical leaves for families.
- Fighting corruption
A common problem faced globally due to the outbreak was hoarding and price-gouging.
Food vendors, pharmaceutical companies and other industries are taking advantage of the increased demand for basic necessities by increasing prices to maximize profits.
Sanders promised citizens 3 things: prevention of price gouging, an investigation into corrupt dealings and bailing out working people.
#2. Free education
A major problem faced by young American citizens is the mounting student debt which owes to increasingly high inflation rates that increase interest and the high tuition fee of colleges itself.
Sanders has been an advocator of free college education from the start which is a major reason why he gets support from millennials.
He proposes to cancel all student debt faced by 45 million Americans which currently amounts to $1.6 trillion and place a cap of 1.88% on interest rates for loans going forward.
To pay for the eliminated debt, Sanders plans to increase taxes on Wall Street, as well as taxes on the wealthy by hiking estate taxes for millionaires and billionaires that own estates worth over $1 billion.
It’s also interesting to note that nearly half a century ago, public education in America was free whereas now students are required to pay a minimum fee of $21000 per annum.
Sanders believes that every student has the right to access to education, no matter what their income.
Thus, if elected as President, he promises to pass the ‘College for All’ act that provides $48 billion to state universities, community colleges and other educational institutes at the same level in order to offer free education to students.
With the US being the richest country in the world, Sanders believes that citizens should not have to struggle to receive a good education; thus, colleges should be debt-free.
If you’re a student or parent to a student, see Sander’s K-12 plan that focuses on providing education to children of colour and children from low-income households.
#3. The Green Deal
The Green Deal consists of a number of things, including:
- Minimizing climate change
This one’s a very interesting take of Bernie Sanders on the issues because climate change is something that President Trump is not even acknowledging – and that too at a time where the world is at the brink of a catastrophe due to global warming.
Sanders, on the other hand, is seemingly concerned about the effects of climate change and has a plan to control it.
He aims to transform the energy system into 100% renewable energy for electricity and transport by 2030 and complete decarbonization of the economy by 2050 as well as create 20 million jobs in the process to end unemployment.
At the same time, there will be a just transition for those working in the fossil fuel industry.
Sanders strongly believes that the fossil fuel industry needs to be held accountable for its greed.
Moreover, he plans to re-enter the Paris Agreement in an attempt to work internationally to fight climate change.
All of this would entail providing $200 billion to the Green Climate Fund, investing in conservative and public lands to heal fossils and forests.
- Equality and Justice
As an average, middle-class citizen himself, Sanders believes highly in the importance of equality and justice for citizens of all races and socio-economic classes.
This is in line with issues such as land-grabbing as powerful co-operations try to take over the land of poor farmers. Sanders once helped provide money to these farmers to fight a lawsuit in order to take back control of their land.
Sanders believes that turning America into a green nation will help families have access to cheaper electricity and transportation, modern infrastructure and higher speeds of broadband internet.
#4. Access to medical healthcare
Despite the US being one of the richest countries in the world with a well-equipped healthcare system – more than over 30 million Americans remain uninsured or underinsured.
So many expensive procedures are not covered by standard health insurance; thus, leading to medical bills being the number one cause of bankruptcy in America.
All of this is despite the US spending a huge chunk of its healthcare on GDP.
To this, Sanders proposes the solution of ‘Medicare for All’, a single-payer, national health insurance program that will provide everyone in America with extensive health care coverage, free at the point of service.
The new healthcare coverage proposes to cover dental treatment, hearing, vision, home- and community-based long-term care, in-patient and out-patient services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, reproductive and maternity care, prescription drugs, and much more.
This would also entail no surprise bills, networks, premiums or copays.
In addition to that, Sanders proposes to cap medicinal pricing at pharmacies so that citizens should not have to pay more than $200 per annum on prescription drugs under the ‘Medicare for All’ insurance.
#5. Human rights
During his career, Sanders has constantly fought for various human rights.
He openly admits to his regret for voting for Joe Biden’s Crime Bill in 1994 and promises to end profiteering by corporations, reform police and prison systems and end mass incarceration which are all opposed to the bill that was passed.
He also proposes to sanction foreign officials involved in human rights abuses, including violence against demonstrators which came after the Hong Kong violence incident.
Lastly, Sanders vows to overhaul labor laws in an attempt to increase union membership and rights.
Criticisms against Bernie Sanders on the issues
While there is no doubt that Sanders is a politician with the American citizens best interests at heart, there are a few criticisms against his views as a politician:
- Socialism: With increasing competition and awareness, Sanders isn’t the only politician with progressive views
- Sexual misconduct: In 2016, Sander’s campaign workers were accused of sexism and inappropriate behaviour. While Sanders apologised to all women who may have felt a victim of this, it put a negative stamp on his reputation
- Age: Majority of polls are indicating that citizens want a young president in 2020, which goes against Sanders who is currently 78 years of age
- Loyalty: As an independent legislator, many accuse Sanders of lack of loyalty to one party – raising doubts about his performance as President
- Pragmatism: This is a concern raised by multiple experts and citizens across the nation. Most of Sanders proposed reforms require heavy government spending but he hasn’t backed up most of them with a source of income; thus, making them seem unrealistic
So that sums up Bernie Sanders on the issues.
After Trump’s controversial and unusual term as President, perhaps we all want someone who wants the best for America.
However, the important question that we need to ask ourselves when it comes to Bernie Sanders is, while he may have a great vision for this country, will he be able to turn it into a reality?