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Bernie Sanders: The radical who has changed US politics

V Nivedita | Updated on April 09, 2020

Senator Bernie Sanders (File photo)   -  Bloomberg

Sanders has been champion of the working class throughout his career

On Wednesday, Senator Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign to become the democratic party's nominee to become the president of the United States (US).

 

Throughout his political career, which spans over approximately four decades, Sanders - a self-confessed social Democrat - has been a champion of the working class. The centre of his campaign, both in 2016 and now, has been the need for a "revolution" -- to make the government work for all, and not just for the "top 1 per cent". He promised to take on big corporations, their lobby groups and Wall Street.

 

Sanders' campaign has three cornerstones: reworking the nation's healthcare system, increasing social welfare schemes and providing easy access to education.

Healthcare and minimum wages

In the US, if you lose your job, you will lose your healthcare. Sanders wanted to change that -- his plan to provide a 'Medicare for all', that is, a single-payer, national health insurance programme to provide comprehensive healthcare coverage, free at the point of service.

Sanders campaigned to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The current wage is, as mandated by the federal government, is $7.5 per hour. This was last revised in 2009. He also wants to increase funding for social security programmes and housing projects. He is also a supporter of unions and wants employees to be represented in company boards.

Education

One of Sanders' key messages is providing college education for all. In his campaign he has guaranteed tuition and debt-free public colleges, universities and trade-schools to all.

He has promised to cancel all student loan debt. These steps would help end "equity gaps in higher education attainment", according to his website.

“Winning the ideological battle”

These schemes and ideas helped Sanders win the youth vote and the minority vote. Over two million Americans contributed to Sanders' campaign, averaging $18.50 per donation.

Though he had an initial surge in this presidential campaign, Sanders failed to build his momentum, losing states he won in 2016. But, he knows that he has changed the face of the Democratic party. Ideas like the green new deal, which he was an initial backer, are gaining momentum in the party.

 

Some of his ideas are also being used by the Republican party.

In his speech on Wednesday, Sanders makes note of this: "We are winning the ideological battle, and while we are winning the support of so many young people and working people throughout the country."

Published on April 09, 2020

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