Bernie Sanders: The principled conservative for 2016

Take the Export-Import Bank. This previously obscure federal agency has caused a civil war between the pro-market and pro-business wings of the Republican Party. If only all Republicans shared Sanders’ principled stance against the bank. Sanders has “long criticized the bank and voted against reauthorizing it last year,” according to The Hill.

Democratic socialist he might be, Sanders has no trouble opposing the use of government power to favor certain businesses over others. Sure, he probably would prefer to cut out the middleman by removing the businesses altogether, but it’s a start. On this issue, he could actually find common ground with Tea Party-style Republicans who agree with his conclusion, if not its underlying logic.

Finally, let’s look at his position on gun control. Although Sanders has recently stressed his support for some gun-control measures, such as universal background checks and outright bans on certain weapons, he has a surprisingly conservative gun record. As a congressman from Vermont, a state with a high rate of gun ownership, he voted against the 1993 Brady Act. As senator, “Sanders supported bills to allow firearms in checked bags on Amtrak trains and block funding to any foreign aid organization that registered or taxed Americans’ guns.” After Sandy Hook, Sanders said “if you passed the strongest gun control legislation tomorrow, I don’t think it will have a profound effect on the tragedies we have seen.” Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern recounted all of this disapprovingly in an article titled “Bernie Sanders, Gun Nut.”