BERNIE SANDERS’ NEW POLITICAL LIFE
By Richard Davis
The longevity of the political life of Bernie Sanders is nothing short of amazing. I think too many of us tend to take him for granted as our lone voice in the wilderness for what is just and fair for the American people.
Bernie is a political anomaly because he does what he says he will do and he has never wavered from his core principles over the decades of his political career. There are not too many Washington politicians who fit that profile and Vermonters, as well as the rest of the country, are lucky to have such a mensch in office.
We need to remind ourselves from time to time just how valuable Bernie has become to the national political process, especially during these times of political rancor and turmoil. I have always been amazed at Bernie’s ability to stay above the fray and forge straight ahead, despite the fact that Washington power brokers have tried to marginalize him at every turn.
Even the Democrats have pushed him to the back burner over the years, especially during his runs for the presidency. But he was undaunted and just kept the train rolling along. I doubt that many people would be able to withstand the kind of battles that he has had to fight just to maintain his place among the Washington elite.
I have known people who have worked for Bernie in Vermont and Washington over the years. During the time they spent with him they came to realize that he was the real deal. They also understood that he was a tough and demanding boss who had limitless energy and if you couldn’t keep his pace you would quickly fall behind.
A September 13 story in The Nation by John Nichols is worth a read because it explains how Bernie now has real power in Washington and how he might even be considered an “uncomfortable insider”.
Bernie chairs the powerful Senate Budget Committee and that means that he is right in the middle of every Washington budget battle. The new budget plan that has been trimmed from $6 trillion to $3.5 trillion is now Bernie’s number one agenda item. He is meeting with President Biden on a regular basis and is touring the country in an effort to sell the plan to the American people.
Sanders describes this new budget push “the most progressive moment since the new deal”. Nichols quotes Bernie who said, “What we are trying to do is to bring forth transformative legislation to deal with structural crises that have impacted the lives of working people for a long, long time.”
This budget bill will probably be the toughest sell of Bernie’s career. All the Republicans are in lock-step against it, some even calling it a socialist takeover of government. And there are many Democrats who have problems with the bill for a variety of reasons.
Even Bernie does not like all of the bill but he has learned to pick his battles and he knows when compromise is the best route. But there are those in Washington who will block whatever Bernie proposes because they believe he has a socialist agenda that is not in the best interest of patriotic Americans.
Republicans lost their grip on reality years ago and their brand of patriotism makes it difficult to respect the needs of a majority of Americans. Bernie has tapped into a majority need in this country by forging ahead with the budget bill. That is the brand of patriotism that we all benefit from.