Why a Libertarian is Considering Bernie Sanders

Mr. Steve Kendall, Journalism 1 Teacher

Bernie Sanders has captured the hint of revolution in America. (photo courtesy of Cornell College)

(This post originally appeared on Rant and Roll).

A Libertarian Voting for a Democratic Socialist? Normally, I’m a big believer in hands-off government and have serious issues with traditional party candidates. However, I do like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. With the only other major party candidate I would even consider voting for out of the race (Rand Paul) and no clear favorite among Libertarian candidates (Gary Johnson would have my vote if he runs), I am looking at Sanders as a possibility. Mind you, I am not committed to support him just yet, but I do like him. Why?

  1. Foreign Policy: Though he is not perfect, Sanders would certainly handle war and foreign policy better than Obama, Clinton, and Bush did and is vastly superior to any of the remaining candidates on either side. He voted against the Iraq War and would be in favor of more diplomacy before force. Not my perfect candidate, but certainly closer to Libertarian views than most.
  2. Prison Reform: The United States incarcerates far too many people, and a disproportionate percentage of them are people of color. Rather than spending resources to incarcerate people who aren’t a physical threat (non-violent drug users, contempt of court, failure to pay), Sanders proposes we spend more on education, training, and jobs that will reduce crime. This focus on rehab would help people when they got out of prison, rather than have them continue through the same cycle. I agree wholeheartedly.
  3. Police Accountability: There is plenty of evidence that the police are out of control, and Sanders wants to hold them accountable for their actions. He wants to demilitarize the police force, provide body cameras to increase accountability, increase training standards, and increase civilian oversight. That all sounds good to me.
  4. Civil Liberties: Sanders is against the NSA spying on citizens and most forms of corporatism. He believes in helping end racial inequality, narrowing the gender gap, and providing equality for the LGBT community and for those with disabilities. Of the candidates that remain, he is by far the best choice to protect civil liberties.
  5. Reforms for banks and rural businesses: This is where I differ from Libertarian ideology. I think the big banks have hurt our economy, and the lack of privately-owned family farms has diminished our food quality. Tighter regulations on the banking industry and helping rural states increase locally-owned, family farms will increase the quality of our food as well as the health of the citizens.
  6. He’s anti-establishment: I don’t agree with a lot of Sanders’s policies, but he is on the outside, and I always like the guys on the outside. Granted, he has been a senator for almost a decade and served in the House of Representatives for 16 years prior to that, but his record shows he is willing to vote his conscience rather than along party lines, which makes him an outsider in my mind.

My decision is not final. The likelihood is I will vote for Johnson should he win the Libertarian nomination (Check out his website for his views and beliefs or read this article from GQ from 2011). However, Sanders is a far better choice than any of the other mainstream candidates, and at least he would do things differently than it has been done in the past. That cannot be a bad thing!