Sanders takes on the issues

Presidential Candidates Hit the Hurdles

Nik Wojcik

Election Day 2016 may seem like worlds away for any normal person, but the presidential hopefuls aren’t wasting a single moment in trying to set themselves apart from the crowd. A lot can change before our date with the ballot box, but, as of now, these are your front runners and how they feel about issues that matter to you.

Bernie Sanders
“Feel the Bern”

74, Democratic Socialist, Civil Rights Activist/Vermont State Senator, born in Brooklyn, NY

Student Debt: Sanders introduced the College for All Act, which would make public colleges and universities free of tuition…for all, and would “remove requirements for students to re-apply for financial aid each year.” The cost for his proposal would be paid for by a “Robin Hood” tax implemented on Wall Street. His plan also addresses student loan interest rates, which he would reduce to under 2.5 percent for new and existing student borrowers, and would expand work study programs to all students.

Immigration Reform: He believes immigration is the “strength of America.” Sanders would move toward comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship, Visa reform, border security without the use of a fence or wall and continuation of the DREAM Act.

Military Engagement: Sanders supports a strong U.S. defense but believes military intervention should be a last resort and wants to reign in the expanding defense budget. He voted against the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the Gulf War, but authorized military force against al-Qaeda after 9/11. The candidate feels strongly that regional armies should take the lead in combating ISIS, with potential U.S. military support, not replacement. He rejects the idea of putting U.S. boots on the ground in Syria or Iraq and considers the Iran nuclear deal a “victory for democracy.”

Civil Rights (BLM/LGBT): Sanders actually entered politics by way of his civil rights involvement in the ‘60s, during which time he participated in the 1963 March on Washington and organized a sit-in to protest segregated housing in 1962. He was given a 100 percent rating by the NAACP. Sanders has long been a champion of criminal justice and education reform as keys to improving racial injustice. He also calls for a $15 minimum wage, which he believes will begin to curb economic inequality that plagues many minorities.

Sanders has been fighting against discrimination based on sexuality since 1972. In 1983, he supported the first gay pride parade in Burlington, VT. He voted against the same-sex marriage ban (DOMA) in 1996 and helped to pass Vermont’s law legalizing gay marriage in 2009.

Planned Parenthood/Abortion: Sanders cosponsored the 1993 Freedom of Choice Act and has been a lifelong pro-choice advocate. He feels that increasing economic opportunities and access to contraceptives will drastically decrease the number of abortions, but has vowed to “defend Planned Parenthood.”

Drug Policy: Sanders sees the “War on Drugs” as a failed policy and favors treatment options for drug offenders in lieu of destroying lives through incarceration. He cosponsored a medical marijuana bill in 2001 that would have changed marijuana’s DEA classification to Schedule II. During the first Democratic debate held on Oct. 13, Sanders stated that if he were a Nevada resident, he would vote ‘Yes’ to legalize recreational use. He also cosponsored a bill to reduce incarceration for drug-related offenses.