If you’re going to judge what a politician stands for, you’d do better to look at their advisers and supporters than their campaign rhetoric, and you’d do even better still to look at their record.
The presidential candidate Bernie Sanders served in the House of Representatives from Vermont’s at-large district from 1991 to 2007 and in the U.S. Senate from 2007 to the present, so he has a long record to go by.
Sanders has been a political independent, not a Democrat, for most of his political life, and is the only member of Congress to call himself a socialist. The 2016 Presidential campaign is the first campaign in which he has run as a Democrat to organize Congress.
His congressional record seems to me to be like a 1930s New Deal Democrat. He is a staunch defender of the New Deal programs such as Social Security, a champion of labor unions and an opponent of Wall Street.
While his voting record is favorable to abortion rights, gay rights, affirmative action and civil rights for African-Americans, he does not have a high profile on these issues as he does on bread-and-butter economic issues.
Liberals might have trouble with the fact that he was first elected to Congress as an opponent of gun control and still has reservations about gun control.
Here are some highlights of his legislative and voting record:
He founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus in 1991 and chaired it for eight years.
In 1999, he defied U.S. law on drug imports by organizing a trip to Canada with constituents to buy cancer medications at 10 percent of the U.S. cost
In 2005, he joined with Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, to repeal the section of the USA Patriot Act requiring librarians to give the government information on patrons’ book-borrowing. It passed the House, but did not become law.
In 2010, he gave an eight-and-a-half hour speech against the Tax Relief, Unemployment and Job Creation Act of 2010, which extended the Bush era tax cuts. The speech drew nationwide attention and was later published as a book.
In 2011, he successfully introduced legislation calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve System’s bank bailouts, which revealed that the Fed had granted $16 trillion dollars in assistance to troubled banks, some of their foreign banks.