By Robert J. Guttman
June 9, 2015
“The major issue of the campaign is income inequality. There is more income inequality in the U.S. than any other nation on earth. It is worse than in 1929. One-tenth of one percent own as much wealth as the lower 91%,” exclaimed announced Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders on June 3rd at our Center for Politics & Foreign Relations Issues Forum 2016.
Speaking before students and journalists at the George Mason School of Policy, Government and International Affairs Center for Politics & Foreign Relations, the fiery speech by the former mayor of Burlington, Vermont at the Johns Hopkins campus in Washington, D.C., stated, “We need to create a society to work for working families. Stand up for the middle class. You all need to be standing up to work for a better future.”
Speaking out against large banks, Sanders proclaimed, “We need to break up financial institutions. Too big to fail is too big to exist.”
The Democratic presidential candidate, who is rising in the polls against Hillary Clinton (finished with 41% to Hillary’s 49% in recent straw poll at Wisconsin’s Democratic Party convention poll in Milwaukee this month) brought many of the students to their feet applauding his views on “radical re-thinking of higher education” and stating we “need to get our brighter students into going to college even if they can’t afford it. We need to make public colleges tuition free.”
The outspoken Senator from Vermont who calls himself a Democratic Socialist and is elected as an Independent who caucuses with the Democratic Party in the U.S. Senate had a long exchange with a student from Finland. Sanders spoke out in favor of the large social programs in Finland and said they could be a possible model for the United States.
Sanders also spoke out against current pending trade bills saying they “cost jobs for American workers.”
Sanders ended his lively and passionate speech by saying, “I am calling for a political revolution in this campaign. Are you content with where we are now? The media disparages politics today. I think we can do better.”
On the evening of June 3rd, former Rhode Island Governor and U.S. Senator Lincoln Chafee announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president at the Center for Politics & Foreign Relations at the George Mason campus in Arlington, Virginia.
Introduced by the School of Policy, Government and International Affairs Dean Mark Rozell and myself, the former Republican and former Independent stated, “Today I am formally entering the race for the Democratic nomination for President.”
The former farrier (a person who puts horseshoes on horses which he did for seven years when he was younger) stated as one of his main reasons for running for president was his vote against the Iraq war in 2002.
Contrasting his no vote against the war with Hillary’s yes vote for the Iraq War, he exclaimed, “There were twenty-three Senators who voted against the Iraq War in October, 2002. Eighteen of us are still alive and I’m sure every one of us had their own reasons for voting ‘NO’”.
“Without a doubt we now have prodigious repair work in the Middle East and North Africa. We have to change our thinking. We have to find a way to wage peace.”
And an unusual request that I have never heard from a presidential candidate in any previous presidential campaign: Chaffee calling for America to go metric.
“Let’s be bold. Here’s a bold embrace of internationalism: let’s join the rest of the world and go metric. . . . Only Myanmar, Liberia and the United States aren’t metric and it will help our economy.”
Ending his announcement speech for president at George Mason on June 3rd, Chafee said, “Our challenges are many and formidable. Let’s wage peace in this New American Century.”
Chafee’s announcement speech garnered much media attention and he stayed late after his talk giving interviews to reporters from CNN to USA Today.
Chafee joins the other announced Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders.
On June 4th, the George Mason Center for Politics & Foreign Relations (CP&FR) had the former United States Senator from Virginia Jim Webb as our Issues Forum 2016 speaker.
I mentioned that Governor Chafee had announced at our forum for president the night before and we had Senator Sanders, an announced Democratic presidential candidate also speak the day before, and I asked if he would like to announce for president.
Webb stated, “I am someone yet to announce.” However, it seems by all indications that the former Secretary of the Navy is busy exploring running for president. Many feel that we will hear an announcement from him in the near future on his plans to run in the Democratic primaries next year.
Speaking on foreign policy topics at our Issues Forum 2016, the former decorated Marine who served in Vietnam remarked, “The president alone shouldn’t be able to make agreements by himself. On the Iran Nuclear Deal, Congress needs to do more.”
Saying that the “United States is the key nation for stability in Asia. We need to think about our relationships with other nations like China. China is an authoritarian regime that has never had an election. China is increasingly aggressive in the South China Sea.”
The well-known author of several well received books spoke out in favor of more ships being built for the U.S. Navy and more airplanes for the U.S. Air Force.
Webb discussed the growing problem of ISIS in the Middle East and said, “any thing we do should be defined as U.S. national security objectives” and stated that the “United States needs a clearly articulated foreign policy. There has been no clear foreign policy statement since 1993.”
Webb feels “Reagan was a leader who brought strong leaders into his administration. The way he ran the executive branch is a model for the last 35 years.”
The Naval Academy graduate thinks that “education and health care are the two biggest issues for most people today.”
The former Senator from Virginia seems like a good middle of the road Democrat with strong foreign policy views who could find votes from those Democrats not on the liberal end of the spectrum.
Sanders is very liberal even calling himself a Socialist which is a brave thing to do in the world’s main capitalist nation;
Chafee is what was once called a “liberal Republican” a species that no longer exists in the northeast or anywhere else in the country.
O’Malley is a progressive running on his liberal agenda as governor of Maryland who is the youngest candidate in the field so far.
And, Hillary, who rarely talks to the media and will most likely stay that way, hopes to coast easily to the Democratic presidential nomination.
Chafee, Sanders, Webb and O’Malley, all speaking to the media unlike Hillary, see a poor campaigner in Hillary and hope she loses like she did in 2008.
All of these candidates have as good or better resumes than the Democratic frontrunner and all are qualified to be president and are ready, willing and able to lead their party if Hillary continues to slip in the polls.