In a tweet posted on October 29, Bernie Sanders stated, “With so much violence in this world today, I just don’t think the state itself should be in the business of killing people.”
In today’s America, gun-crazed and alert to any possible threat, such a statement borders on radical. But it very clearly encapsulates Sanders’ personal ideology, which he has consistently brought forth through his position as a Vermont Senator.
While many politicians on the left have been accused of simply pandering to the various marginalized groups receiving attention at the moment, if not entirely shifting their political stance on certain issues in order to gain more votes from specific demographics, Sanders seems to be the rare exception whose heart is genuinely in the right place.
It is easy to become cynical of politicians’ motivations, in a country where major corporations paint their products in rainbow colors in order to draw support from the LGBT community, but low-income gay teenagers in small, religiously conservative towns in the deep south still face homelessness and parental abandonment, and transgender women’s brutal, violent murders go unreported in the mainstream media.
It is easy to see why impoverished, suffering Americans might be suspicious of a politician who appears on the scene suddenly with aspirations of borrowing the Nordic model of social democracy, advocating for racial and gender inequality, and overturning invasive surveillance laws, when the current state of America is so far removed from this seemingly idyllic utopia.
It’s understandable why Sanders has his fair share of doubters. But, for all intents and purposes, he appears to be sincere in his efforts. During his time at the University of Chicago, he was active in the civil rights movement and joined the Young People’s Socialist League. In the 1970s, he was an active member of the anti-war Liberty Union Party.
Sanders’ fans and critics alike find it difficult to find much inconsistency in his beliefs, suggesting that he is genuinely concerned about the wellbeing of oppressed Americans and not simply coddling them during the campaign in hopes of being elected.
Though Sanders does not appear to actively practice his Jewish faith at this point in time, he seems to have a better grasp on the concept of loving your enemy than many of his most devoutly “religious” opponents. Sanders made the curious decision to speak at the strongly right-wing Liberty University this past September, reaching out to students steeped in the conservative Christian culture that fears his platform the most.
What Sanders hopes to bring to the country is nothing short of revolutionary. That America is even willing to listen to his ideas in 2015 is indicative of how desperate oppressed minorities are to have their voices heard, to receive equal opportunities, to feel as though the leaders of their country care whether they are able to afford basic necessities.
What Sanders has been talking about I have been writing about since 1971. And, this from my mentor and adopted father Leonard J. Mountain Chief, “A change has got to come, sooner better than later.”
Peace for now, Jay North