Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is taking the political world by storm. The relatively unknown Democratic presidential candidate has been drawing huge crowds as he travels the country speaking to voters; as a matter of fact, in a recent campaign stop in Madison, Wisconsin nearly 10,000 people showed up to show their support– more than any other presidential candidate in the race has attracted. However, it’s not just Democrats “feeling the Bern”; his pragmatic approach to politics is also capturing the attention of Republicans, like Marine veteran and minister, Everett Clifford.
Clifford commented on a pro-Sanders Facebook post by Michael T. Hertz , a writer for the website LA Progressive and explained why he, a Republican, was going to vote for a candidate who is often characterized as a “Democratic Socialist”:
“[I] Have been living in Vermont for many years, have voted for Bernie every time, very proud of him, he tells us what’s wrong, and how to fix it, never ran a dirty campaign, so as a Republican, Marine vet, and Minister, I’m voting for Bernie Sanders.”
Clifford isn’t the only Republican taking notice, Hertz tells of another staunch member of the GOP who is abandoning the party in favor of Sanders. This “Reagan” Republican wrote a lengthy comment on another of the writer’s posts and explained why he likes the Vermont Senator. Part of his reason is that Bernie Sanders is a crusader of the middle class:
“Everything he did was for the American worker, from protecting them from outsourcing and cheap foreign labor, to fixing the budget deficit by hiking taxes on the rich, to boosting the minimum wage. He’d be considered a centrist back in the 80s, which is why he has my vote.”
It’s HUGE that Bernie Sanders is stealing not just a religious veteran away from the GOP, but also a Reagan Republican. Those are two of their ideal voters. When you think of Republican voters, your mind probably immediately lands on someone who is religious, a veteran or someone who believes Reagan was a super hero. So to lose those types of voters, the ones they don’t even think they have to work to keep is almost unheard of and it’s not just these two voters.
A recent poll, conducted by CBS and The New York Times, found that 80 percent of Republicans agree with Bernie Sanders’ stand on Citizens United. The senator has said that the only way to save our political system is to pass an amendment to repeal the Supreme Court ruling that gave corporations an outrageous amount of sway over our elections. Since the 2010 ruling, corporate donors have drowned out the voices of middle class America by pumping millions of dollars in shady Super PACs with the sole purpose of buying elections. The Republicans who were polled said that they believe Senator Sanders is right and money has too much influence in elections.
Sanders’ refusal to take money from billionaire Super PACs, his middle-class policies and his clean campaigning are very desirable political traits. Many voters– on both sides– are fed up with the dirty politics in Washington and are looking for a change. That’s why Sanders is so appealing; he isn’t the typical politician. The GOP is in big trouble if more of their party starts taking notice that Sanders. After all of the gains we have made over the last seven years, many Americans realize the last thing we need is someone in office who is going to screw average Americans in order to give the please the ultra rich. Sanders has made it clear where his loyalties lie, he’s a genuinely good person and that makes him a huge threat to the slimy, corrupt GOP.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.