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Commentary on the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders

Commentary by Fight Back! Editors |
July 20, 2015
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We think that it is a good thing that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is running for president. Senator Sanders has attracted some of the largest crowds of any presidential candidate by hammering away at the growing income and wealth inequality in the U.S. He supports the $15 per hour minimum wage, a government single-payer health care program and has been a consistent opponent of so-called ‘free trade’ agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP.

Senator Sanders has also been a critic of Wall Street and the most blatant displays of the richest 1%’s domination of elections. He wants to overturn the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that ended restrictions on corporate donations to political candidates. Sanders has also fought hard against the right wing and oil and gas industry’s opposition to any action on climate change.

That said, we cannot support the candidacy of Mr. Sanders. As senator, Sanders supported the 2010 Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill that included more militarization of the border, more temporary workers, cutting legal immigration from Africa in half by the elimination of the so-called diversity visa, and cutting back on family reunification visas. Sanders has said almost nothing about the ongoing police occupation of oppressed nationality communities, and the plague of police killings that target young Black and brown men.

While Sanders has been a critic of the Pentagon, he does so from the perspective of pinching pennies, not from an opposition to U.S. intervention in countries around the world. Sanders has supported sanctions on Russia that are part of the U.S. strategy for ‘regime change’ in former soviet countries to isolate Russia. Even worse, he has been a supporter of the brutal Israeli attack on Gaza, which massacred over a thousand Palestinian civilians and hundreds of children.

For those of our readers who see change coming through elections, there is (unfortunately) no major candidate to the left of Senator Sanders. He is certainly better than Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party mainstream, having opposed President Bill Clinton’s welfare reform and having endorsed the Reverend Jesse Jackson’s campaign for president in 1988. But for those of us who see that “change is in the streets,” we will be putting our time, energy and meager amount of money into organizing on campus, in the community and at our workplaces, not into the election campaign of Senator Sanders. We invite you to join us.