Bernie Sanders, the independent Senator from Vermont, is known to almost all nowadays. For decades, though, he has been serving his community, state, and country with dignity, honor, and dedication. He really is a man of principle; I believe that. He probably isn’t perfect, but he has taken up the progressive torch and run hard with it. Not only is that an extremely challenging role, he also has billionaires, oligarchs, plutocrats, and other shady characters aligned against him. It’s amazing that the only things that have come out about him that are dubious, hyperbolic, and made-up. It is my pleasure to run through a dozen compelling Bernie Sanders quotes to inspire, enlighten, and reassure you during these extraordinarily tough times. I will also note which value or values I believe each of these Bernie Sanders quotes are truly about.
But first, a few words about how “radical” he is (and if so, if that is even a bad thing). Enlightened man of letters, Noam Chomsky, says this:
Bernie Sanders is an extremely interesting phenomenon. He’s a decent, honest person. That’s pretty unusual in the political system. Maybe there are two of them in the world, you know. But he’s considered radical and extremist, which is a pretty interesting characterization, because he’s basically a mainstream New Deal Democrat. His positions would not have surprised President Eisenhower, who said, in fact, that anyone who does not accept New Deal programs doesn’t belong in the American political system. That’s now considered very radical.
So, before I show you some really neat Bernie Sanders quotes, I just want to point out that often, when someone tries to delegitimize Sanders by showing him to be “radical,” “Socalist/Communist,” or “unrealistic,” it is often just falling victim to the characterization the massive disinformation campaign about the man has wrought. We have moved so far to the right, and become such a two-class society, that even reasonable social welfare programs that are popular or were once quite mainstream have been denigrated. This is the effect of “starving the beast,” as the dark and cynical plutocrats such as Adelson and the Kochs have been longing for. It’s a sad and desperate time for America when a virtual hero and progressive titan such as Bernie Sanders steps up, runs a clean campaign, and many otherwise-intelligent individuals are too myopic or prejudiced to get it. PROGRESSIVISM: “We have in this country sufficient amounts of money to put more people in jail than any other country on earth. The United States has more people in jail than China; a communist authoritarian country. But apparently we do not have enough money to provide jobs and education to our young people.”
PROGRESSIVISM: “We have in this country sufficient amounts of money to put more people in jail than any other country on earth. The United States has more people in jail than China; a communist authoritarian country. But apparently we do not have enough money to provide jobs and education to our young people.”
PROGRESSIVISM, RATIONALITY, RESPONSIBILITY: “If the goal of healthcare reform is to provide comprehensive, universal health care in a cost-effective way, the only honest approach is a single-payer approach.”
PROGRESSIVISM, SOCIAL WELFARE, RESPONSIBILITY: “I go into the doctor, I wait in line, and all I see are signs there: ‘Do you have insurance? You have got to pay with cash.’ The only thing this guy seemed to be concerned about was whether I could pay for it. Walk in there, he looked at me for two seconds and filled out an expensive prescription. People want doctors who are concerned about them, who know them, who they can go to, who they can call up. They want to know that their teachers are deeply concerned about their kids. They want to know that their local cops are somebody they can go to if there is a problem. And that is what we have got to build. It is not easy stuff. But, I think, at the end of the day, creating that type of community is what will address some of the problems we are seeing in this country and around the world.”
TRUTH, DEMOCRACY: “We have more wealth and income inequality today than we’ve had since the 1920s. We have all of these enormous issues. And what big money can do is put an unbelievable amount of TV and radio ads out there to deflect attention from the real issues facing the American people.”
Noam Chomsky also shares this about Sanders’ positions:
The other interesting aspect of Sanders’s positions is that they’re quite strongly supported by the general public, and have been for a long time. That’s true on taxes. It’s true on healthcare. So, take, say, healthcare. His proposal for a national healthcare system, meaning the kind of system that just about every other developed country has, at half the per capita cost of the United States and comparable or better outcomes, that’s considered very radical. But it’s been the position of the majority of the American population for a long time. So, you go back, say, to the Reagan—right now, for example, latest polls, about 60 percent of the population favor it. When Obama put through the Affordable Care Act, there was, you recall, a public option. But that was dropped. It was dropped even though it was supported by about almost two-thirds of the population. You go back earlier, say, to the Reagan years, about 70 percent of the population thought that national healthcare should be in the Constitution, because it’s such an obvious right. And, in fact, about 40 percent of the population thought it was in the Constitution, again, because it’s such an obvious right. The same is true on tax policy and others.
So we have this phenomenon where someone is taking positions that would have been considered pretty mainstream during the Eisenhower years, that are supported by a large part, often a considerable majority, of the population, but he’s dismissed as radical and extremist.
SHOWING CHARACTER WHEN REACTIONARY CREEP RANDY “DUKE” CUNNINGHAM MOUTHED OFF IN A HEARING: “My ears may have been playing a trick on me, but I thought I heard the gentleman a moment ago say something about ‘homos’ in the military. Was I right in hearing that expression? Was the gentleman referring to the thousands and thousands of gay people who have put their lives on the line in countless wars defending this country? You have insulted thousands of men and women who have put their lives on the line. I think they are owed an apology.”
LIBERTY, CAPABILITY, PROGRESSIVISM: “Are you truly free if you work 100 hours a week because you can’t find a job with a living wage? Are you free if you have no healthcare?”
PROGRESSIVISM: “…the strategy the Democratic Party has been pursuing in recent years has failed. Since 2009, Democrats have lost more than 1,000 seats in state legislatures across the country. Republicans now control the White House, 34 out of 50 governorships as well as the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. In dozens of states, the Democratic Party is virtually non-existent. Too much is at stake for our country and our people for us not to learn from our past failures and move forward in a way that makes the Democratic Party stronger so we can take on and beat Trump and the right-wing Republican agenda.”
PROGRESSIVISM, ABSURDITY, DEMOCRACY: “In my view, a corporation is not a person. A corporation does not have First Amendment rights to spend as much money as it wants, without disclosure, on a political campaign. Corporations should not be able to go into their treasuries and spend millions and millions of dollars on a campaign in order to buy elections.”
PROGRESSIVISM, DEMOCRACY, LOCALISM: “It is not acceptable that the 6 largest financial institutions in this country have assets of almost 10 trillion dollars, and issue half of the mortgages and two-thirds of the credit cards. That is too much wealth and power in the hands of a few. If Teddy Roosevelt were alive today he’d tell us to ‘break them up.’ And he’d be right.”
PRESCIENCE, VISION, WISDOM: “Fifth, I am concerned about the problems with so-called unintended consequences. Who will govern Iraq when Saddam Hussein is removed? And what role will the US play in an ensuing civil war that could develop in that country? Will moderate governments in the regions who have large Islamic fundamentalist populations be overthrown and replaced by extremists? Will the bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority be exacerbated? And these are just a few of the questions that remain unanswered.”
TRUTH, PROGRESSIVISM, SOCIAL WELFARE: “Mark my words. Once they pass this bill, they will claim we need to deal with the deficit by cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. You don’t have to take my word for it. Here is what the New York Times [recently wrote]: As the tax cut legislation passed by the Senate early Saturday hurtles toward final approval, Republicans are preparing to use the swelling deficits made worse by the package as a rationale to pursue their long-held vision: undoing the entitlements of the New Deal and Great Society, leaving government leaner and the safety net skimpier for millions of Americans.”
TRUTH, PROGRESSIVISM, DEMOCRACY: “I think many people have the mistaken impression that Congress regulates Wall Street. In truth, that’s not the case. The real truth is that Wall Street regulates the Congress.”
Here is a fantastic interview that features many incisive and inspirational Bernie Sanders quotes. However, you can pretty much pick an interview at random and you’re going to get a very clear progressive message. He is consistent, compelling, and utterly truthful. You can do no better if you are trying to inspire or educate yourself than to read some of the best Bernie Sanders quotes, which was my goal in this blog.
I urge you to try out The Wisdom Archive if you haven’t already. It’s an incredible search engine that features dozens and dozens of trenchant Bernie Sanders quotes. Herein you will also find some great wisdom quotes, quotes about values, and progressivism quotes. Always free, truly rich.
If you wanted to get a book about Bernie, I might suggest trying this one by Jonathan Tasini.