A Vermonter’s two-cents on Bernie Sanders

As a two-term UVM student body president, a lifelong Vermont resident and a 2006 volunteer for Bernie Sanders’ bid for the U.S. Senate, the meteoric rise of our junior senator in the 2016 Democratic primary race and the constant Facebook posts from friends and former colleagues have prompted a desire to correct the record about Sanders from a “real” Vermont perspective.

It’s well-proven that Vermonters like incumbents; we’re too busy working to focus every two years on our gubernatorial or congressional elections.

If you throw a wet paper towel at the wall long enough, chances are it’ll stick.

But we are also a group that likes accomplishments, and proven success instead of mere rhetoric. Bernie Sanders has proven that his paper towel stuck on the wall of Burlington after he moved here in 1968 – from New York – and subsequently ran for governor and senator, ultimately settling for mayor of Burlington 13 years later after being a carpenter and “filmmaker.”

Position brings notoriety, notoriety brings position.

Sanders has captivated many – even myself when I was 15 – with his optimistic rhetoric about an American utopia where everyone need not and we fight against “corporate greed.”

I am, however, not 15 anymore, and realize that there’s a difference between blaming the system and taking responsibility for ourselves.

In the near-two decades that Bernie’s been in Congress, however, I can’t name a single thing he’s done for Vermont. It appears people just like him for proposing idealistic items.

I’d like to point out one of Bernie’s proposals, because it’s particularly relevant to this publication and its audience. Namely, the proposal to fund free higher education in the U.S. at all four-year public universities.

It’s a great idea, and I wholeheartedly agree that education should be more accessible.

My problem comes in the funding mechanism of “taxing Wall Street.” Tax the greedy companies, funded by idiotic consumers, to educate consumers, right?

It’s logic, however, that if you artificially decrease a firm’s revenue that they would be incentivized to find some way to increase it.

Sanders plans to fine “financial transactions,” predominantly equity trading, to fund his higher education tuition plan.

But day-traders would then be incentivized to increase the volume of trading to account for the loss in revenue, thus increasing stock turnover and market volatility.

Why wouldn’t Sanders simply propose a measure to contain higher education costs rather than utilize increasingly volatile market revenue?

It’s curious to think that increased education spending would fare in a Congress that consistently seeks to reduce federal education spending. And for someone proposing such bold new legislation on higher education, why has only 9 percent of his proposed legislation in Congress been related to education? Perhaps because he doesn’t know how to collaborate.

People seem to forget that the United States’ government is specifically designed so as to not give any one elected official or party a “mandate” from the electorate.

The U.S. isn’t the UK. It is designed to force people of difference to discuss and disagree, but to also compromise.

Ideological differences exist between the public and Congress today, sure, but the largest problem we have with government in recent times is their failure to work together. If elected, Bernie Sanders wouldn’t have a mandate.

Heck, no member of Congress has even endorsed him. He’d have to work with a Congress that is currently wildly opposed to many of his proposed policies. Good luck with that.

As a Vermonter, I would rather vote for a successful moderate with some baggage than a career-less ideologue who’s done nothing to improve the lives of average Vermonters.


Connor Daley

Former UVM Student