Barack Obama is often accused of being a socialist. While there’s truly nothing wrong with that term, no matter what the Right would have us think, Obama has proven himself to be a centrist — willing to work with the “other side,” while still pushing values that are important to him and to Americans as a whole. But would he support socialist? Well, that actually happened in 2006.
Before an event at the University of Vermont’s Ira Allen Chapel, a much younger Obama showed a much younger Barack Obama showed up to stump for Bernie Sanders. In front of a crowd of about 500 people, Obama urged the people of Vermont to stand behind Sanders, a Democratic Socialist, and Peter Welch, a Democrat. When Obama addressed the crowd, the confidence he exudes today palpable even then.
“I think all of us feel a bit cynical about politics sometimes,” Obama said. “It seems like it’s a business instead of a mission. It seems like power’s always trumping principle. It seems that our self-appointed leaders lack leadership.” Obama derided the Bush administration as being “fundamentally not serious about things we care about” — like the lives of our soldiers. He added the Bush is not serious about our environment, not serious about energy independence, about homeland security, health insurance, ensuring Americans have a decent quality of life, or educating our children (Thanks, No Child Left Behind!).
“And, so, sometimes we get disheartened,” Obama said. While we sometimes think that nothing is going to change, Obama said, Sanders and Welch are “an indication that things can change.”
“When ordinary people decide they want a different future for themselves and for their children and their grandchildren, and they come together and work at a grassroots level, it doesn’t matter how much money is spent,” Obama said, “it doesn’t matter what the powers and principalities say; we can bring about a change.”
“I want to make sure everyone is as enthusiastic as I am about making sure these guys end up in Washington where they can keep on stirring up some trouble,” Obama added.
“How do you campaign where everybody knows you?” our President joked with Sanders. “I mean, what’s the point?” Obama added that “the people who like him, you’re not going to change their minds about liking him. The handful of wrongheaded people who don’t like him, you’re not going to change their minds either.”
Both Sanders and Welch won election in 2006, with Sanders taking 67% of the vote over a very disappointed Rich Tarrant. Sanders went on to announce that he intends to be our next President. While he was initially considered a long-shot — and still is in many circles when compared to the decorated and admired Hillary Clinton — Sanders’ campaign is picking up speed, with the 2016 hopeful drawing crowds of thousands almost anywhere he goes.
A June Suffolk University poll showed Clinton with a surprisingly narrow lead over Sanders — 41% to 31% — in New Hampshire. However, a July poll placed Sanders a full 43 points behind Clinton. While he may be facing an almost insurmountable challenge, Sanders is the real deal. When he says that he doesn’t want corporate donations, he means it — as is shown by his donors. According to Politifact Sanders’ top ten donors are, quite literally, “The People”:
His top 10 are, in descending order, Machinists/Aerospace Workers union ($105,000), Teamsters union ($93,700), National Education Association ($84,350), United Auto Workers ($79,650), United Food & Commercial Workers union ($72,500), Communications Workers of America ($68,000), Laborers Union ($64,000), Carpenters & Joiners Union ($62,000), National Association of Letter Carriers ($61,000), and the American Association for Justice ($60,500).
Clinton and Sanders are both great choices in the White House, and our President believes in both of them. Watch him voice his support for Sanders, below:
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Opinion columnist and former 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.