(D-110, NYS Assembly)
Sen. Bernie Sanders
When did you become political? Were there any specific events in your life that caused you to become actively involved?
I was always interested in government and politics, beginning in Fifth Grade, when my teacher, Mabel Moore, had us do reports on countries all over the world. My grandparents, who lived in Manhattan, used to get materials on those countries at the United Nations and send them to me. I became interested in the politics of the various nations. With respect to local politics, when I was 25, I asked our local Democratic District Leader Lee Aronowitz if he needed help. He replied that I should run for Colonie Town Board, which I did, so that was my first real political involvement.
Do your political affiliations reflect those of your immediate friends and family or not? Do you discuss those things?
Yes. My father’s family admired Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. Politics was always a matter of discussion in my parents’ house. It was the Vietnam War era. My father, although a conservative discipline-oriented football coach, felt strongly that we should not be involved in the Vietnam War. He believed strongly, as I do, that It is nearly impossible to change another nation’s political, social, and economic development through military intervention.
What are the issues in this election that are most important to you and how will they immediately affect you and your loved ones?
Because of changes in U.S. economic policy since 1980, we have witnessed a remarkable transfer of wealth from the middle class and poor to the “billionaires,” similar to what occurred in the Gilded Age. In New York, the top 1 percent had 11.9 percent of the income in 1980. Today it is 30.2 percent. The middle class is facing higher health insurance costs, higher college education costs, reduced pension benefits, and many other similar problems. People are unable to afford these things, which affects my family and all my constituents directly. In addition, the cost of foreign intervention is unaffordable. It deprives us of money that should be spent on repairing and improving our infrastructure. We have been rebuilding Iraq, but we cannot rebuild our own county. Foreign intervention is dangerous, particularly in the Middle East. It is not effective. As many sober analysts have pointed out, the “blowback” is dangerous. ISIS is blowback from the invasion of Iraq.
How do you see your candidate’s platform as addressing those issues?
Senator Bernie Sanders is the only candidate addressing these issues. His opponent is compromised by her relationship with Wall Street and her interventionist views. Among other things, Senator Sanders supports reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, breaking up the banks that are “too big to fail,” and single payer health insurance. These are measures that I have supported in the New York State Assembly. In addition, Senator Sanders would purse a non-interventionist foreign policy, more like the “Good Neighbor” policy of Franklin Roosevelt.
What was the most memorable part of the rally/rallies you attended?
I gave introductory remarks at the Sanders rally at the Albany Armory in front of well over 4,000 people. It was inspiring. I was not nervous, but the adrenaline certainly did get flowing since it was the first time I had addressed such a large assembly. My favorite moment was when I mentioned I was from the Town of Colonie, and there was a huge cheer. Apparently quite a number of my constituents are “Feelin’ the Bern.”