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Is Bernie Sanders the Ron Paul of 2016?

by Jane Susskind, published

In an op-ed piece for The Week, Peter Weber found comparing Bernie Sanders to Ron Paul more appropriate than comparing Sanders to any other presidential candidate from a previous election. However, is this a fair and accurate comparison?

Bernie Sanders, like Ron Paul, is relying solely on grassroots efforts and has refused to accept any money from super PACs. In the first 24 hours of his campaign, Sanders raised $1.5 million from 35,000 donors (which comes out to an average of $43.54 per person). This is similar to Ron Paul's $4.3 million money bomb in November 2007 and is more than any of the current Republican candidates raised in that same period of time.

Much like Ron Paul, Bernie Sanders is running as the outsider's candidate. Both men appeal to a broad range of voters who feel disenfranchised by the partisan political establishment. While many candidates try to avoid the image of being a "fringe" candidate, Sanders continues to stick to the principles that have set him apart from his colleagues in Congress -- sound familiar?

The similarities between Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders don't end there:

"Both men have a libertarian bent, though Sanders would be better described as a civil libertarian and Paul a fiscal one. Sanders started his political career as a candidate for the Liberty Union Party, before becoming an independent aligned with Vermont progressives for his successful 1981 run as mayor of Burlington. Paul started out with the Republican Party, defected to the Libertarian Party from 1987 to 1996, then rejoined the GOP.   Both men are on the older end of the political spectrum — Paul, 79, was roughly the same age in 2008 as Sanders is now — and more germanely, each finds their most ardent followers among the younger strata of the political spectrum. Both men promised revolutions. Paul and Sanders voted against the Iraq war and 2008 Wall Street bailout, are wary of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, and both want to audit the Federal Reserve.   [Ron] Paul's political genius was organization, community building, and paying attention to the nuts-and-bolts of electoral politics. It's unclear if Sanders has similar campaign prowess. But at least his ideological leanings don't appear to be a deal-breaker: A recent Reason-Rupe poll found that 50 percent of Democrats viewed socialism favorably (as did 33 percent of independents and 26 percent of Tea Partiers). Still, Sanders, like Paul, is not going to win.   Which is another way of saying that the political press won't really treat Bernie Sanders any more seriously than it treated Ron Paul. But like Paul, Sanders has two things that people say they crave: principled conviction and authenticity." - Peter Weber, The Week

Read the full op-ed here.

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