Is America Ready for Bernie Sanders?

Bernie SandersBernie Sanders, Independent Senator from my old home state of Vermont, is running for President in the Democratic primaries. This is a picture from the press conference he held today (April 30) on the lawn of the Capitol to talk about why he is running and take a few questions.

It was classic Bernie – no backdrop, no flash, he said up front that he didn’t have a lot of time (the whole press conference lasted less than 15 minutes).

What are the most pressing issues he sees that need to be addressed?

  • Income inequality – stopping the decline of the middle class
  • Repealing Citizen’s United
  • Raising taxes on the richest Americans and making sure corporations pay their fare share
  • Creating millions of new, decent paying jobs
  • Addressing climate change
  • Invest in infrastructure
  • Universal healthcare – implementing a Medicare for all system
  • Providing free college tuition

I lived in Vermont for 10 years. Bernie is one of the most accessible politicians I have ever met – and I met him several times, including in Burlington’s food co-op.

Contrary to popular belief, Vermonters are not all liberals. Most of the time we lived in Vermont, there was a Republican governor. One year when the governor and Bernie were running for reelection for different offices, I would see lawns with yard signs for both men. How could that be? I would hear more conservative Vermonters say that they didn’t agree with Bernie on every issue, but you always knew where he stood. The list of issues above are the same ones Bernie has been talking about for years.

He always ran his campaigns like he was running for the first time – even when he would regularly get 65+% of the vote. He would hold town hall meetings across the state, usually provide a meal, give a short speech and then take questions.

Will this scale for a nationwide campaign? I don’t know, but I hope he finds a way to reach the millions of people in this country who believe their vote and their voices don’t count. Bernie can give them a reason to believe he is on their side.

I do know that I am pleased to see him in this race – and hear him say over and over that he is in it to win.

As Rolling Stone’s Matt Tiabbi put it in his latest article – Give ’em hell, Bernie.