Hillary Has A New Challenger — From The Democratic Side

Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images.
Hillary Clinton has some company on the democratic field in the race for president. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders announced his campaign on Thursday. Sanders has already surmised that he’s not going to beat Clinton, but for him victory isn’t the point — it’s principle.

Sanders, an Independent who calls himself a “democratic socialist,” wants to challenge Clinton from the left on issues like climate change and economic regulations for big banks, which means we’ll all get the chance to hear more about what the frontrunner might actually do if she’s elected.

At a press conference, Sanders said his campaign would fight against income inequality, rising college costs, and money in politics. In his announcement, he criticized a "political system where billionaires are literally able to buy candidates" with huge, often anonymous donations to Super PACs. 

Sanders is famous for taking on huge — some might say quixotic — causes almost single-handedly. Here a few of the best examples.

He filibustered before it was cool.
Before Rand Paul spent 13 hours speaking out against U.S. drone policy and Ted Cruz read Green Eggs and Ham in order to oppose Obamacare, Sanders stood up against a proposal to extend tax cuts for the country’s richest residents. For almost nine hours in December of 2010, Sanders railed against policies that hurt the poor and widen the inequality that exists between the richest Americans and everyone else. He didn't defeat the bill, but his effort got its own hashtag, #filibernie, and a website, isberniesandersstilltalking.com, and he brought attention to the economic struggles of millions of people, and the ways government leaders make them worse.

He's no recent convert to the cause of same-sex marriage.
Hillary Clinton only recently started speaking out strongly in support of same-sex couples' right to get married in every state, and her husband, President Bill Clinton banned federal recognition of same-sex marriages when he signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. One Congressman who voted against DOMA? Bernie Sanders, who was a member of the House at the time. Vermont was the first state to legalize same-sex civil unions, and marriage has been legal since 2009. Sanders, unlike some of his republican opponents, doesn't seem like he'd have any qualms about accepting an invite to a gay wedding.

He knows climate change is real — and he tried to make republicans admit it.
Earlier this year, the Senate voted 98 to one to admit that "climate change is real and not a hoax," which was an amendment to a bill related to the Keystone XL pipeline. Since some senators have suggested that unseasonably cold weather disproves the existence of climate change, it's not crazy to want confirmation in the congressional record. This particular amendment was introduced by a different senator, but Sanders also had one of his own, and his took things one step further. Sanders wanted the Senate to acknowledge that climate change is “already causing severe problems all over the world," according to The Hill. He added that "we have a window of opportunity and we have to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency.” 

He was right about the Iraq War.
After so many years of fighting in Iraq, it's easy to forget just how much support President Bush had before launching the U.S. invasion in March 2003. Looking back on a speech Sanders gave in October 2002, his reasons for opposing the war were prescient enough to seem psychic: the potential deaths of American soldiers; the precedent the invasion would set for future conflicts; the threat it would pose to U.S. efforts to fight terrorism; staggering financial costs. His worries about unintended consequences were dead-on — from questioning what government would replace Saddam Hussein to the danger of encouraging extremism — perfectly encapsulating the current struggle against ISIS that is spreading through the Middle East.
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