Bernie Sanders is the United States Senator for Vermont and a popular democratic candidate who ran for president in 2016, and has announced he is running again in 2020. Sander has been part of the America’s Socialist Party and several peace and anti-war movements since he was a student. He was heavily involved in the American Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, regularly protesting against, segregation, civil injustice and police brutality. A self-claimed socialist and a progressive, he vowed not to take corporate donations in 2016 and has already raised $10 million in his first week of grassroots fund raising for the 2020 elections. Sanders is running on ideas of a universal healthcare system, boosting the welfare system to easy poverty, revising gun laws and immigration, while advancing LGBT rights, adopting a more progressive foreign policy, and tackling climate change.
Many in the media have pointed out the effect Sanders’ 2016 campaign has had on a left-leaning shift in the run up to the 2020 election, with candidates pushing ambitious reform plans and increasingly progressive rhetoric. However views on Bernie Sanders' performance in the first democratic debate has been mixed and many have pointed out the traction that Sanders stands to lose as a result of his influence on other democratic candidates, having to work harder to stand out in the larger pool of progressive candidates. Sanders talked about Medicare-for-All, eliminating student debt, gun control, continental American foreign policy, climate change and women’s, LGBT and worker’s rights. He spoke on a large range of points and received a large amount of applause, and despite often being interrupted in the debate and his performance being widely criticised in the mainstream media, Sanders maintains, "I won both debates" .
Along with Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sander spent much of the second night of the democratic debated defending his universal healthcare plan.
Sanders stated from the beginning of this debate he believes the democrats need to “campaign with energy, excitement and vision” and accused other democrats of being afraid of “big ideas”. He also derailed John Delaney’s harsh criticisms of his policies by simply replying “you’re wrong” to much applause, and quipped back at Tim Ryan accusations that he didn’t know what his healthcare plan would cover with “I wrote the damn bill!.” This fiery performance even led to Sanders to accuse the CNN hosts of presenting “republican talking points” as questions to the democrats, overall a powerful second debate delivered by Sanders.
Sanders focussed on his core message of working-class issues, fighting corporate power, and providing better social welfare policies during the third debate. The fact that Sanders lost his voice is something many media outlets focussed on in this debate, rather than policy though, something common throughout Sander’s campaign, in addition to misinforming, misrepresenting, reporting on and framing his support as falling despite polls showing the opposite, what seems to some as a clear smear . On the 1st October 2019 Bernie Sanders was hospitalised after having a heart attack and underwent surgery, making his first public post-surgery appearance at the October debate. This health-scare along with earlier issues about Joe Biden’s cognitive ability due to his age, prompted questions about candidates age and health, which Sanders dismissed saying he felt great.
Sanders went on to deliver a fiery critique of Biden’s constant claims to be the only candidate who can “get things done” in the October debate, pointing out he also got Iraq done and NAFTA done, criticising the foreign and trade policy failures from the Obama administration. Something Sanders echoed in the November debate in Atlanta, as Sanders spoke out for ended the international War on Terror, bringing the Middle East together, ending discrimination and transforming America. Sanders similar impassioned response in December led to Sanders being called the winner of the debate by a group of LA voters interviewed by the LA Times. However the January debate was overshadowed by a dispute that Sanders had told Warren that a women couldn't become president, something he denied. Sanders himself pointed out that this is something that goes against his 30 year history of trying to encourage women to strive for the presidency, and is also something he specifically encouraged Warren to do in 2016 before running himself when she refused to. In this way Warren's claims don't make sense, however the media, just like the CNN moderator who asked the question, seem oblivious to the reality of his record and are spinning a smear into a plus for Warren.