Four Ways Sanders Is a Better Candidate than Clinton


Four Ways Sanders Is a Better Candidate than Clinton

by Okla Elliott

First off, allow me to reiterate Bernie’s dictum that we never attack political candidates personally, and allow me to beseech both Sanders supporters and Clinton supporters to follow his lead. He has set the gold standard for civil debate, and we would do well to rise to that standard. I will therefore stick solely to policy proposals, voting records, and what these mean as we decide who is the better candidate.


  1. Foreign Policy. Perhaps the biggest point of contrast one can draw between Sanders and Clinton on foreign policy is the Iraq War. Sanders had the moral fortitude and general foresight to vote against the Iraq War. As he said at the time, on the floor of Congress:

“The question, Mr. Speaker, is not whether we like Saddam Hussein or not. The question is whether he represents an imminent threat to the American people and whether a unilateral invasion of Iraq will do more harm than good.”

He went on to accurately predict that the war would get the United States into a quagmire and cause destabilization in the region, something that he was sadly entirely right about. Sanders was able to withstand enormous political pressure and was able to see the inevitable outcome of a unilateral invasion. And we have to realize that future situations will require similar fortitude and foresight. We should therefore elect someone who has proven capable of these things.

  1. Financial Reform. Once again, we can look to Sanders’ predictive powers and understanding of how the world works. He voted against the repeal of Glass-Steagall claiming that allowing these banking institutions to get too big would lead to economic calamity. I think we need look no further than the 2008 collapse to see just how right he was. Clinton, on the other hand, still supports the repeal of Glass-Steagall. If we continue to allow these banks to be “too big to fail,” we will never have a bargaining position to keep them in check. Sanders is right to want to limit their size, as that is the only way we can prevent them from becoming too recklessly powerful.
  1. The Environment. According to the organization Climate Hawks Vote, Sanders was ranked #1 in the 113th Congress for his voting record on the environment, so he is literally the best in regards to this issue. Clinton has connections with Big Oil which led her to support the Keystone Pipeline, offshore drilling in the Gulf, and fracking. Sanders has, of course, voted against offshore drilling and fracking and has been an aggressive critic of the Keystone Pipeline. Sanders also supports a carbon tax on polluters, whereas Clinton opposes this.
  1. Trade Agreements. Sanders has consistently opposed these agreements that are always sold to the public as job-creating measures but which always lead to a hemorrhaging of jobs to countries that have lax environmental laws and few workers’ rights laws. These agreements are therefore economically bad at home and ethically bad abroad. Even with Clinton’s recent reversal of her previously enthusiastic support for the TPP, Sanders has a much stronger record on this issue. He has opposed the TPP from day-one and never saw it as a good agreement. As Clinton said in 2005: “During my tenure as senator, I have voted for every trade agreement that has come before the Senate.” The choice is pretty clear, I’d say. Sanders has been steadfast and correct on the issue of trade agreements, something we should want in our next president.

About Okla Elliott

I am currently an assistant professor at Misericordia University in northeast Pennsylvania. I hold a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Illinois, an MFA in creative writing from Ohio State University, and a legal studies certificate from Purdue University. My work has appeared in Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, The Hill, Huffington Post, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, A Public Space, and Subtropics, as well as being listed as a "notable essay" in Best American Essays 2015. My books include From the Crooked Timber (short fiction), The Cartographer’s Ink (poetry), The Doors You Mark Are Your Own (a coauthored novel), Blackbirds in September: Selected Shorter Poems of Jürgen Becker (translation), and Bernie Sanders: The Essential Guide (nonfiction).
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