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Sun Jun 12, 2016, 02:30 PM

Profiles in Courage: Bernie Sanders -- by Peter Buttigieg (D-IN)

2000 Winner of the John F. Kennedy
Profile in Courage Essay Contest for High School Students

In this new century, there are a daunting number of important issues which are to be confronted
if we are to progress as a nation. Each must be addressed thoroughly and energetically. But in
order to accomplish the collective goals of our society, we must first address how we deal with
issues. We must re-examine the psychological and political climate of American politics. As it
stands, our future is at risk due to a troubling tendency towards cynicism among voters and
elected officials. The successful resolution of every issue before us depends on the fundamental
question of public integrity. A new attitude has swept American politics. Candidates have discovered that is easier to be
elected by not offending anyone rather than by impressing the voters. Politicians are rushing for
the center, careful not to stick their necks out on issues.


While impressive, Sanders’ candor does not itself represent political courage. The nation is
teeming with outspoken radicals in one form or another. Most are sooner called crazy than
courageous. It is the second half of Sanders’ political role that puts the first half into perspective:
he is a powerful force for conciliation and bi-partisanship on Capitol Hill. In Profiles in
Courage, John F. Kennedy wrote that “we should not be too hasty in condemning all
compromise as bad morals
. For politics and legislation are not matters for inflexible principles
or unattainable ideals.” It may seem strange that someone so steadfast in his principles has a
reputation as a peacemaker between divided forces in Washington, but this is what makes
Sanders truly remarkable. He represents President Kennedy’s ideal of “compromises of issues,
not of principles.”

Sanders has used his unique position as the lone Independent Congressman to help Democrats
and Republicans force hearings on the internal structure of the International Monetary Fund,
which he sees as excessively powerful and unaccountable. He also succeeded in quietly
persuading reluctant Republicans and President Clinton to ban the import of products made by
under-age workers. Sanders drew some criticism from the far left when he chose to grudgingly
endorse President Clinton’s bids for election and re-election as President. Sanders explained that
while he disagreed with many of Clinton’s centrist policies, he felt that he was the best option for
America’s working class.

Sanders’ positions on many difficult issues are commendable, but his real impact has been as a
reaction to the cynical climate which threatens the effectiveness of the democratic system. His
energy, candor, conviction, and ability to bring people together stand against the current of
opportunism, moral compromise, and partisanship which runs rampant on the American political
scene. He and few others like him have the power to restore principle and leadership in
Congress and to win back the faith of a voting public weary and wary of political opportunism.

Above all, I commend Bernie Sanders for giving me an answer to those who say American
young people see politics as a cesspool of corruption, beyond redemption. I have heard that no
sensible young person today would want to give his or her life to public service. I can personally
assure you this is untrue.


The first Berniecrat? This man is now the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He was profiled today in Frank Bruni's NYT column The First Gay President?

What an inspiration Bernie Sanders has been, while also standing against corruption, both personal and of ideals. At the same time, he has compromised on the issues as needed to make progress.

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Reply Profiles in Courage: Bernie Sanders -- by Peter Buttigieg (D-IN) (Original post)
JonLeibowitz Jun 2016 OP
KPN Jun 2016 #1

Response to JonLeibowitz (Original post)

Mon Jun 13, 2016, 10:23 AM

1. Yup, what Bernie has done and is doing took REAL courage, and ...

he's been doing it for about 50 years.

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