Who is Bernie Sanders and Why Should He Matter to Latino Voters?

No one in the media quite knows what to make of it. Hardly anyone in the established government does either. Even those in the movement are surprised – albeit delighted – when ever-more positive polls show that their candidate on a steady rise in support among all sectors of the American electorate.

That candidate is the senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders.

At the start of his campaign, very few people would have been able to predict that this white man – silver-haired, 70-something and slightly rumpled – would possess one of the most enviable civil rights records in the country.

Senator Sanders goes beyond the talking points. He traveled to Florida in 2007 and witnessed farm workers under extremely harsh conditions. This was not a junket about cameras or press conferences. It was about witnessing what exploitation looks like first hand. What he did was come back to Washington and made change in Congress. (Above link is to: http://www.salon.com/2016/03/07/tenemos_familias_watch_bernie_sanders_powerful_spanish_language_documentary_ad/). He has been fundamentally against the deportation of parents and the dissolution of Latino families. He gets his information directly from Hispanic and Latino people themselves, rather than from a political pollster.

Senator Sanders is acquainted and highly concerned with the systemic discrimination existent in all aspects of economy, education and jobs. Bernie believes that America squanders far too many resources on over-incarceration and misguided crime policy, and that this money could be better spent providing jobs and education to those who might otherwise get lost in the criminal justice system. Sen. Sanders also advocates for police reform through increased transparency and accountability in cases of police misconduct.

With regards to the job crisis that mainly affects the Afro-American and Hispanic population, Senator Sanders has consistently voted against NAFTA and other trade policies that favor multinational corporations at the expense of the people. Thanks to these trade agreements millions of American jobs have been shipped overseas. Senator Sanders’s proposal is to invest $1 trillion in the next 5 years to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create a conservative estimate of 13 million good paying jobs. This measure will make our country more productive, more efficient and safer.

Another issue of concern for Sen. Sanders is the humanitarian crisis in Puerto. With a debt of $70 billion, an unemployment rate of 11.7% and extreme poverty, Bernie Sanders’ opinion is that Puerto Rico should be given the flexibility it needs to restructure its debt, but to make sure that it can rebuild its economy, create good-paying jobs and expand its tax base. 

Bernie Sanders (just “Bernie” to his legion of supporters) has an unparalleled track record of racial justice, environmental justice and equality for all. His visibility in this election contest has garnered a diverse range of opinions among Latinos, from Dolores Huerta (supporting Secretary Clinton) to Rosario Dawson (supporting Senator Sanders).

As CNY Latino noted in October of 2015, the Latino vote is critical to the 2016 presidential election. At this time, it should come as no surprise that Senator Sanders ought to be considered by this community as a strong candidate who has represented their interests throughout his time in Congress.

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