Bernie Sanders is unabashedly 1000% left. From his desire to hold Wall St. responsible for the dissipation of our country’s middle class, to his plans on taxing the 1%–Bernie and his fans think of Bernie as a democratic socialist. You probably think this means all republicans loathe him. But actually the Bern has an avid Republican following and fan-base. Some of whom even reside right here at NYU.
It shouldn’t be too shocking that Bernie has been able to win over some republicans—especially working class republicans. Many political analysts, throughout the years, have noted that working class republicans often vote against policies and politicians in their favor. From better tax cuts, to better welfare and healthcare programs—the republican working class has often overlooked and rejected what’s in its best interest (as well as the country’s). But Bernie came in determined to break this cycle.
Susan MacDonald, a republican for Bernie explains “My democratic and libertarian friends can’t understand why anyone poor or female would vote republican…But deep down, no matter how unrealistic it is, most republicans believe that someday, somehow, they will be up there, too. And therefore, rules penalizing the wealthy go against their grain.”
However, with a son in the midst of applying for college, not knowing how she’s going to pay for his education has compelled her to “feel the bern.” While she doesn’t directly address that the vicious cycle of poverty is propelled by a capitalist monopoly on education—her candidate of choice indicates that she has put the dots together. She has slowly started to accept that maybe the under-regulated wealthy don’t have her best interest at heart.
Another republican for Bernie, Susan Fiore, reaffirms that many republicans for Bernie are willing to place blame where blame is actually due instead of becoming blinded by hate speech and fear mongering.
“Supporters of Sanders and of Trump/Cruz are very angry about the same thing: being disenfranchised.” She says. “But they’re angry at two different demographics: Leading GOP candidates’ supporters are angry at the poor, minorities and immigrants, while Sanders’ supporters are angry at the rich and powerful who really rule this country. Some conservatives recognize who is really to blame for their struggles, and consequently support Sanders.”
While it may still surprise you that Bernie’s stance on the economy has helped give him bipartisan appeal—it shouldn’t surprise you that his equally strong stances on some of the more uniform bipartisan issues have also helped to catapult him to popularity. In fact, many of the fans on the Republicans for Bernie Facebook page are active environmentalists, adamant activists for equal pay, and/or ready for some serious reforms to the prison industrial complex. These activists are not only confident that Bernie knows how to fix these issues—they are confident that he will really deliver. They believe in him and they believe in his candor.
Speaking of candor, it has been noticed by many popular news sources that there are some striking similarities between that of Bernie Sanders and that of Donald Trump. Yes. Trump is a flaming bigoted sexist and Bernie is far FAR the opposite (in his character and his policies). Nevertheless, as The Atlantic, Business Insider, and NPR have all pointed out, the two candidates share some similar talking points as well as the same angry tenor in their voice. This could account for their both winning in New Hampshire, and for the fact that they are the most popular candidates, of each respective party, in many Mid-Western states.
They’re both advocates for “fair trade” and oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which they both believe will hurt the “American worker;” they both want to invest more in our infrastructure; they both wish to expand social security benefits; and they both take pride in their rejection of large campaign donations. With this, and their shared candor, comes their shared ability to appeal to angry republicans—a very large American demographic.
I just hope this demographic can reject the ignorant monster that is Donald Trump and choose Bernie. I hope they will condemn Trump’s disgusting anti-immigration rants, his outrageous proposal to build a wall, his despicable Islamophobic rants, and his abominable proposal to ban all Muslims Etc. I hope that what’s shared of these candidates’ political strategies (which have been effective for both of them thus far) ultimately serves to aid Bernie and simultaneously destroy Trump.
One NYU student in particular helped to restore my hope. Alec Hardman, is a 21 year-old sophomore and self-proclaimed left-leaning conservative, who attributes his political identity to his Ohio roots. (Left-leaning conservative may sound confusing and paradoxical—and it is—many of Hardman’s ideologies seem to play a tug-of-war with each other.) Hardman isn’t shy to express that he would have been virtually shunned by his community if he didn’t indentify as a republican—I found it surprising that he doesn’t feel he’ll be virtually shunned for declaring himself a republican here at NYU. Nevertheless, I respected his honesty and thankfully he respects Bernie’s.
“I like him [Bernie].” Hardman said. “His ideas aren’t gradual enough, but I think America will soon become socialist so he’s got the right idea.”
I wasn’t sure at first if Hardman was presenting this ultimatum as a sarcastic acceptance of some sort of impending doom, or if he truly believes that Bernie is just the dose of idealism our country needs. However, as I asked him his opinion of Donald Trump, I soon realized it was the latter.
“I think he’s got a great understanding of the American capitalist system, but I don’t want him to win.” Hardman stated. “I don’t think he represents conservative values well. I don’t like his Islamophobia campaign and I don’t like the way he [generally] runs his campaign.”
With this I realized that there is more than one kind of angry republican. There are thankfully at least a handful of angry republicans who are fed up with the hate speech and fear mongering being done by the GOP; republicans willing to assess the roots of their values and surrender to an idealist democratic socialist Jew.