Shiny S. Patel
General Sections Editor
For the first Democratic debate, Senator Sanders opened up his introductory statement by immediately jumping to the major issue at hand, in his eyes, which is the fact that the middle class is hurting now more than ever before. He talked about how the working class is working longer hours for lower wages. He goes on to blame the top 1% for the problems that the country is seeing. He says that the campaign finance system is fundamentally corrupt and SuperPACs are a major part of the reason why the average American struggles to have a voice in the system. He talked about the negative impacts the world faces due to the severity of climate change and agrees upon the moral responsibility of humans to fix the problems we have created.
Furthermore, Senator Sanders discussed the issue of prison rates and how the black youth unemployment rate has risen to 51%. He thinks it is time that money was put into the education of our country rather than the prison industrial complex. To end his opening remark, he said that the people need to be mobilized to take back the government from millionaires.
Jon Stewart discusses Bernie’s political stance:
I think that Bernie Sanders had the best opening statement because he hit upon all the topics he found most relevant while backing them up with real numbers to show that there is validity in his opinions.
The first question that Senator Sanders was asked had to do with his political ideology. When asked whether or not he was a Democratic Socialist, he said yes. He brought up the fact that Democratic Socialism has to do with the fact that the economy is rigged and he feels as though the president needs to be fixing this terrible problem. He brought up that statistic that said that 57% of the new income in America goes to the top 1%. He talked about the importance of paid family leave and that we should be following the footsteps of countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. To rationalize why Republicans have been in office, he said, “Republicans win when there’s a low voter turnout.”
To back up that statement, he gave the statistic that 87% of young people under the age of 30 did not vote last November. Going back to the root of the question, regarding his political ideology, he verbalized his discontent with capitalism. He made it clear that he supported small and medium size businesses, not exponentially expanding corporations.
Sanders showed some sympathy towards gun owners because of his background in rural states but definitely shared his belief that gun control needs amendment. He wants to enact a ban on assault rifles.
The issue he brought up that pertained to gun control was the fact that there are thousands of people in the country that need mental healthcare to prevent gun-related deaths and/or suicides. Senator Sanders exhibited great skills of weaving together the interconnectedness of all different issues; this was portrayed by connecting the needs to make healthcare more readily available to prevent gun-related deaths.
He clearly stated that he wanted to keep guns out of the hands of those who simply should not have them; and this could be deciphered by having extensive background checks before a gun is purchased.
It was evident that gun control was a touchy topic for him because he brought up his experience within a rural state to show that guns are a part of the culture in many parts of the country but in the end, he said he wants to do the right thing whether or not that means compromising what some people may be used to.
Following gun control, the next topic Senator Sanders shared his opinion on was foreign policy, starting with the crisis in the Middle East. He described the situation as a “quagmire in a quagmire.” He believes that he will take whatever measures needed to make sure that the U.S. does not get involved in something that the U.S. does not need to get involved with. His example to prove his discontent with sticking our nose where it does not belong was his opinion that Iraq was the “worst decision” the U.S. could have made. He suggests that instead of getting involved in the Middle East, a better alternative would be to round together a coalition of Arab countries, rather than the U.S. directly intruding.
When asked when the United States should use force, Senator Sanders said that war should be avoided unless the United States or its allies are threatened. His past includes votes against the Iraq War as well as the Gulf War. Senator Sanders was proud to share his prediction about the destabilization of Iraq once the United States got involved. To give a time where he supports sending U.S. troops in, he discussed how he voted for the stopping of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
As far as the general topic of warfare was concerned, Senator Sanders showed his care for Veterans Warfare legislation to offer health treatment at hospitals to those who seek it. He said that if a veteran lives over 40 miles away from the closest hospital, the veteran should be able to get treated at a local clinic instead. He talked about how he opposed the war in Vietnam when he was younger but not opposed to the brave soldiers who fought on the lines. It reminded me of the common phrase, “support the troops, not the war.” He claimed that he was not a pacifist but that war should remain a last resort.
When all five of the candidates were asked what is the biggest problem that faces America, Senator Bernie Sanders answered with no hesitation, “climate change.” He believes that sustainable development needs to be more incorporated into the American society and that our energy sources are becoming a major crisis.
After a commercial break, Clinton was interrogated about her scandals regarding her personal emails and when Senator Sanders was asked to comment on it, he put it bluntly by saying that the voters do not care about the emails and that should not be the issue discussed. He immediately changed the topic to the fact that the middle class is collapsing and that 27 million people are in poverty right now. Simply put, the American people want to hear real issues facing America, not the scandals regarding her emails. This shows that Senator Sanders cares more about how to fix the negative parts of our country rather than criticizing the candidates on stage.
As a guest question, a black student asked Bernie, “Do black lives matter or do all lives matter?”
I believe the question was worded in a way to see whether or not the candidates were willing to admit the racial divide that exists in the country and though all lives do matter, this student wanted to see if the candidates see in inequality that does exist between the two races.
Bernie says that black lives matter:
“Black lives matter,” Senator Sanders immediately responded.
He talked about the revolting story about Sandra Bland who was arrested and then was found dead in a jail cell three days later. He spoke about wanting to combat institutional racism and have major reforms in a broken system. He wants to tackle the issue in many ways, by first and fore most creating more jobs over jail cells.
Part II is coming soon… Stay tuned for more of Shiny’s political analyses…