Bernie Sanders’ agenda: not your grandfather’s socialism

Maria Graziano, Contributing Writer

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Amidst all of the hullabaloo that is the GOP presidential race, many people may not be thinking about the Democrats running for the nomination. The two main front-runners are former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, with a few other candidates hovering in their shadows.

While Clinton is the current front-runner for the democratic party, Sanders has gained popularity over the past few months. Many Democrat voters are not Hillary fans, and have found Sanders to be their favorite among their party’s candidates. Sanders has already shocked millions by fundraising his campaign using only donations made by the people of the U.S. No super PACs at all for Sanders, and no endorsements from big corporations either.

Even with Sander’s growing popularity, many are still skeptical of his agenda due to the fact that Sanders is said to be a socialist, and wants to move the United States in that direction. When some Americans hear the word ‘socialist’ they immediately think of fascist socialism. They do not know that Sander’s main platform ideals are to mold a more equal and stronger United States for everyone.

One of the biggest issues Sanders is tackling is the staggering economic inequality in our country. Sanders is adamant about closing the income gap between the rich and the shrinking middle class. One of the main ways he intends to do so is by increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour. This is more than double Pennsylvania’s current minimum wage: $7.25 an hour.

Many Republicans in opposition to Sanders’ plan claim that people working in low-skilled jobs do not necessarily deserve $15 an hour, because they could be jobs such as fast food and grocery clerks.

Many Americans, myself and Sanders included, believe that no one, no matter how skilled, should work 40 hours a week and be living in poverty.

While the billionaires keep getting richer, the middle class is decreasing, and more Americans are in poverty. According to Sanders’ campaign website, America has more wealth inequality than any other developed nation. Additionally, the United States has the highest rate of child poverty out of any developed country: a staggering 32.2 percent.

By gradually increasing the minimum wage across the country to $15 an hour, Sanders’ plan will assist in closing the United State’s largest income gap since the Great Depression. He does not plan to do it all at once, because he realizes that could drastically affect the economy. By gradually integrating the new minimum wage, the economy will have time to adjust accordingly.

A raise in the minimum wage will lift millions out of poverty, and create a happier workforce who are much less likely to go on strike for better conditions. Many Americans are only qualified for lower-skilled jobs, but that does not make them any less important in the United States’ economic system.

In addition to raising the minimum wage, the issue of equal pay for women has also been a topic of discussion in Sanders’ campaign. In 2015, white women still make $0.78 for every man’s dollar, while African-American and Latina women both make significantly less.

While many of the Republican hopefuls turn their heads away at this subject, Sanders is fully aware and ready to fix this problem. Why should a woman make any less than her male counterpart in the exact same field with the exact same level of experience?

When people hear socialist, they run. When they hear universal health care, they get mad. But yet when they hear words like ‘equality’ and ‘stronger economy,’ they get excited.

All of the above aforementioned words are synonymous with one another, and they are all things for which Bernie Sanders stands. Yes, his ideas may be somewhat new to the American people, but change could be just what America needs to stay competitive in this global world.

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