5 Bernie Sanders Op-Eds That Prove The Presidential Candidate Has Long "Felt The Bern"
Some analysts have called Bernie Sanders' mounting comments about Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton "attacks," but in reality, Sanders is really just attempting to draw comparisons with his main rival: namely, his consistency. "There are real differences between Hillary Clinton and myself," Sanders said in an interview with PBS. "I have been extremely consistent on my views for many, many years." Currently, Sanders is emphasizing his consistency through citing his progressive track record on the Iraq War, Defense of Marriage Act, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, all of which at some point differed from Clinton's. But the key to proving his consistency lies in Bernie Sanders' daringly progressive op-eds and essays he published as a young man, decades before entering politics.
Sanders' writings prove that he's felt the same about major issues all his life, even before these views could result in political advancement. Thankfully, in society today, articles defending different lifestyles and identities have become the norm, but back in Sanders' day, raising your voice on behalf of marginalized groups took a great degree of courage. You could be cast as a radical, and, as Sanders well knows, protesting even blatant inequalities like segregation could result in arrest.
"Man And Woman" (1972)
Sanders found himself under fire this summer when Mother Jones dug up a controversial, sexually explicit essay he wrote in the 1970s. Critics of the essay were fixated on lines detailing how men fantasize about rape, and the line, "[A woman] fantasizes being raped by 3 men simultaneously," failing to recognize the essay's feminist message in the form of satire.
Long before the term "rape culture" was even coined, Sanders already demonstrated a clear understanding of its message. The essay explored how society, entertainment, and the pornography industry inadvertently taught men that women view coercive, violent sex as pleasurable, or that "no" somehow meant "yes." The op-ed arguably demonstrates just how long he's favored law that helps rape victims. The essay has also been interpreted as a commentary on gender roles in society. After all, men and women are conditioned to want and feel different things because of their genders. Thus, the essay also reflects Sanders' consistent stances in favor of gender equality, which he now supports by campaigning for paid "family leave" instead of just maternity leave.
However, it's unlikely he'll ever talk about this particular piece if he doesn't have to. Sanders obviously could have made it more clear the essay was satire and didn't reflect his actual views. He has since admitted that the essay wasn't exactly written in good taste.
"A Letter From Bernard Sanders" (c. 1970s)
Within the Democratic Party, marriage equality is pretty much accepted as basic common sense in 2015. But as recently as 2012, progressives Hillary Clinton and President Obama both opposed gay marriage. Meanwhile, as this open letter by Sanders shows, in the 1970s, not only did he already stand behind marriage equality 100 percent, but he also supported all peaceful lifestyles and behaviors.
As Sanders was running for Vermont governor with the Liberty Union Party at the time, the letter might have been an attempt to curry favor with counterculture progressives. But progressives, especially those radical enough to favor "abolishing all laws dealing with ... drugs," were hardly a majority, and so it makes more sense that Sanders was sharing his honest views. The next time he brings up his consistency regarding gay marriage, abortion rights, and marijuana legalization, he should definitely consider alluding to this letter.
"Cancer, Disease, And Society" (1969)
Sanders packed a lot in a 1969 essay for the small progressive newspaper Vermont Freeman, which focused on attributing cancer to "authoritarianism," as a result of limited medical research regarding cancer at the time. But another big takeaway from the essay is, again, his fantastically progressive outlook on female sexuality. In the context of how authoritarianism in society results in intense repression, especially for young women, a 28-year-old Sanders blasted modesty culture that shamed young women for sexual behavior.
"Reflections On A Dying Society" (1969)
Sanders has maintained strong anti-war sentiments for decades as well as opposed capitalism, wealth inequity, and the suffering of the common man. Really, the only major difference between his writing in this essay and his current speeches about wealth inequity is that now, instead of saying "merchants of death," he tends to go with the "top 1 percent."
"The Revolution Is Life Versus Death" (1969)
In essence, this essay in particular represents everything Sanders still currently stands for: his anti-war and anti-interventionist stances, his reservations about "American exceptionalism" myths, more thoughts on healthy sexuality, removing money and special interest groups from politics, and, of course, his call for a large-scale, grassroots political revolution against the top 1 percent.
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