Bernie Sanders is a self described Democratic Socialist, which conventional wisdom suggests would exclude him from consideration from any voters who identify as Libertarian, as it is widely accepted that Democratic Socialists vs Libertarians are polar opposites of the political spectrum. However, upon further inspection, there is some overlap of these otherwise conflicting viewpoints. Here are five beliefs of Bernie Sanders that would make Ayn Rand proud:
- He opposed the Patriot Act
After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the country was devastated. Americans were in disbelief as to how such a thing could happen. 45 days later, President Bush signed into law the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, or the USA PATRIOT Act. Bernie Sanders was one of only 66 members of the House voted nay for the Patriot Act in 2001 and for its renewal in 2006. Bernie’s opposition to “Orwellian surveillance” is highlighted in this op-ed from time magazine.
Do we really want to live in a country where the NSA gathers data on virtually every single phone call in the United States — including as many as five billion cellphone records per day? I don’t. Do we really want our government to collect our emails, see our text messages, know everyone’s internet browsing history, monitor bank and credit card transactions, keep tabs on people’s social networks? I don’t.
Unfortunately, this sort of Orwellian surveillance, conducted under provisions of the Patriot Act, invades the privacy of millions of law-abiding Americans.
- He opposed the bailout of 2008
“Too big to fail” was a popular phrase in 2008 when the future of several major financial institutions was in jeopardy. Many pundits in every political arena would weigh in on the appropriate action to take. Proponents of the bailouts noted that if we allowed these entities to fail, it would cause a ripple effect that would be felt throughout the private and public sectors not only of the U.S., but also the entire global economy. Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a Democratic Socialist, would once again take a Libertarian stance on the issue as highlighted in this excerpt:
There is one issue that is even more profound and more basic than everything else that I have mentioned, and that is if a bailout is needed, if taxpayer money must be placed at risk, whose money should it be? In other words, who should be paying for this bailout which has been caused by the greed and recklessness of Wall Street operatives who have made billions in recent years?
- He refuses to use Super PAC funds
Bernie Sanders will not be accepting any money from a super PAC and will rely instead from small donations from his grassroots supporters. Why is this Libertarian? Simply speaking, it means that Sanders cannot be bought. Not by corporations. Not by special interest groups. Not by unions. This message gives hope to the middle class and at the same time strikes fear into the hearts of corporate America AND Washington D.C. By my estimation, anything that threatens the status quo of the mainstream establishment by curtailing its influence can be considered Libertarian. Finally there is a candidate with integrity who is steadfast in his beliefs that will not say one thing during his campaign and then abandon his promises once elected. Here is a man who calls himself a Democratic Socialist who is driven not by the almighty dollar, but by his own ideals, with which he has been consistent his entire career.
- He opposes the war on drugs
Decriminalizing the possession, sale and usage of drugs is a main tenet of Libertarianism. Statistically speaking, the war on drugs has been a total failure, resulting in inflated incarceration rates as well as unfair targeting of young black males. In fact, roughly half of the federal prison population currently serving was convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. This is not a solution. In fact it is part of the problem. When the Incarcerated are released, they often resort to selling drugs to earn money because of the lack of employment opportunities, which perpetuates the downward spiral of drug related crimes and further incarceration. Another facet of this problem is the “for profit” prison system that actually makes money off of high incarceration rates, and fines civic entities when the occupancy rate falls below 80 percent. (BTW, as you could have guessed, Bernie Sanders is against ” for profit” prisons).
- Bernie Sanders is Pro Choice
Not a big surprise here, after all, Bernie Sanders has called himself the most progressive member of Congress. So what are the Libertarian implications of this viewpoint? The objective of Libertarianism is to maximize the freedoms of the individual by limiting the intervention of government. Libertarians believe that government should not legislate moral or ethical matters, but instead, that those matters be reserved for individuals to decide on. That’s exactly what pro choice means: A woman (individual) is in control of her own body and mind and is free to make her own choices regardless of the moral or ethical code of any governing body. In this blog entry from the Huffington post, Bernie Sanders goes on to say:
We are not returning to the days of back-room abortions, when countless women died or were maimed. The decision about abortion must remain a decision for the woman, her family and physician to make, not the government.
As the Democratic Socialist vs Libertarian debate rages on, Bernie Sanders, who does not seem like a typical Libertarian candidate, certainly has some appeal to voters who are fed up with run-of-the-mill democrats and republicans spewing the same divisive rhetoric. He has already caught fire with young voters who see him as a fresh alternative to long time front-runner Hillary Clinton and boisterous newcomer Donald Trump.