Sanders, a familiar candidate
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 21:10
For Sen. Bernie Sanders, the main priority of his re-election campaign is representing society’s most vulnerable members.
Sanders, who has represented Vermont in the U.S. Senate and is the longest serving Independent in Congress, said his campaign for the Senate seat focused on campaign spending policies, the environment and college affordability.
Sanders said he has spent considerable time attempting to overturn the 2010 Citizens United ruling that declared corporations and individuals could donate unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns.
At an event for Ben & Jerry’s Get the Dough Out of Politics campaign that took place Oct. 25 in the Davis Center, he made a speech which attempted to curb the influence of outside group spending on congressional and presidential elections.
Mike White, president of UVM College Democrats and organizer of the event, pointed out Sanders’ appearance as a reflection of his all-encompassing campaign.
“He’s incredible,” White said. “He showed up to talk to a bunch of kids about citizen action to overturn an undemocratic system and its permanent effect on our future.”
Ben Eisenberg, the finance director for Sanders’ re-election campaign called Friends of Bernie Sanders, said the senator’s campaign addressed the issue of global warming by investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
According to his website, Sanders currently serves on two environmental committees and co-wrote legislation including the Green Jobs Act, Ten Million Solar Roofs Act and the Global Warming Pollution Act, to name a few.
“Some of my Republican friends don’t believe global warming is real,” he said. “I believe it’s very dangerous and we must transform our energy system from fossil fuels into energy efficiency and such sustainable energies as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass.”
Sanders said he is an advocate for making college affordable for all Americans because millions of college students are graduating from college in debt while others are choosing not to go because of financial reasons.
“Some of my Republican friends would like to cut important education programs such as Stafford loans and Pell grants,” he said. “However, I believe we should expand them to help all Americans, regardless of income.”
A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling suggested that Sanders had an approval rating of 67 percent and enjoyed support among Democrats, Independents and even Republicans.
Josh Gachette, a first-year student who attended the Get the Dough out of Politics event, acknowledges the immediate influential effects of unlimited donations.
“He’s all the left has left,” Gachette said. “Sanders is one of the last politicians left who is not accepting large contributions from outside groups that conservatives and even fellow liberals, like Obama, have taken advantage of.”
But not everyone finds Sanders’ political image convincing.
Junior Andy Lenz described Sanders as eccentric and said he talks a lot, but doesn’t seem to get as much done.
“I wish he would do more,” Lenz said.