Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has had a lot of success as of late. Though he simply live-tweeted the GOP debate Tuesday, Sanders received the biggest influx of Twitter followers from the event. He also officially surpassed $2 million in campaign contributions, and is set to nab the endorsement of the Communications Workers of America union, which is made up of hundreds of thousands of workers. Now that he's commanding the attention of even more voters leading into the final Democratic debate of the year, Sanders needs to talk more about these seven key issues.
Sanders' primary focus has consistently been the economy, and how wealth inequality has contributed to a shrinking middle class, in addition to larger consequences. His stance on equal pay, free college for all, and eliminating the influence of corporate donors from politics has earned him an impressive following. But certainly, Sanders' passionate oratory skills — and his entire campaign in general — could benefit from touching on other important topics, such as gun control and national security. The income inequality talk is good, but there are a lot of other problems the next president will need to deal with.
Sanders side-stepped questions on foreign policy during the last Democratic debate, which proved to be a disastrous move, especially given his point on climate change leading to the rise of civil unrest in the Middle East. The candidate expanded upon this during a subsequent appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, but has otherwise remained fairly quiet when it comes to matters abroad. The heightened focus on the subject is more than enough reason for Sanders to firmly highlight his foreign policy knowledge and views.
Gun control is one of just six major issues that firmly set Sanders apart from Clinton. When it comes to restrictions on the purchase of firearms, the Vermont senator is surprisingly conservative, and even voted against the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which required federal background checks for those looking to purchase firearms. Outlining his thoughts on the subject is incredibly important, especially in the wake of the tragic San Bernardino shooting, in which all the firearms used appear to have been purchased legally by the suspects and another person.
National security will undoubtedly be brought up during the third Democratic debate, and not just because of GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump's suggestion to somehow shut down parts of the Internet. Sanders' record regarding such matters, including cybersecurity, is something he rarely highlights, but certainly should. He was highly in favor of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, a proposed bill that would aim to protect vital resources and infrastructure from web threats. That bill ultimately did not pass, due to a filibuster.
It's not that Sanders hasn't tried to highlight the importance of climate change — the candidate has said that it's the nation's biggest security threat. It's that he's not speaking enough about it in depth. He was the only Democratic candidate surprisingly unsupportive of the recently signed Paris climate deal. His reasoning? The plan doesn't go far enough to address the pressing threat. If Sanders truly feels that the planet's condition is that dire, then this is a subject he should be talking about just as much, if not more, than economics.
At the end of October, Sanders unveiled a comprehensive plan to deschedule marijuana, putting it one step closer to being fully legal under federal law. The next month, Sanders introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act into Senate. He has since been fairly quiet about an important stance that has earned him widespread acclaim from marijuana activists.
Black Lives Matter
Hip-hop artist and activist Killer Mike recently released the complete footage of his interview with Sanders at the Swag Shop, a barber shop that the singer owns in Atlanta. The two discussed a wide range of issues, including the Black Lives Matter movement. Some Black Lives Matter activists have praised this discussion for showcasing Sanders' clear engagement, as well as his interest in racial inequality. Sadly, the issue of racially-motivated police brutality still plagues the nation. Sanders discussing reforms targeting criminal justice may be just what he needs to get the attention and support of prominent activists.
Speaking with The Wall Street Journal, Sanders strategist Tad Devine said that the candidate's health care plan may never be released during his campaign. The Democratic socialist has been vehemently in favor of a single-payer system, but has otherwise said little about his thoughts on health care. It's this opacity that truly needs to be addressed, especially given the fact that Sanders is usually far more meticulous when detailing his thoughts on important issues.