This is a dual endorsement of Peter Welch for the U.S. House and Bernard Sanders for the U.S. Senate. The two incumbent members of Congress have emerged, each in his own way, as important figures in the struggle to get America back on the path to peace and prosperity.
Welch has established himself as a hard-working and effective member of the Democratic caucus within the House, focusing on issues that are meaningful to ordinary citizens trying to get by in hard times. He pushed legislation to keep student loans affordable; curb credit card fees and reform the banking industry; reform the dairy pricing system; promote job creation; and reform health care.
Welch brings professionalism and seriousness to the job of legislator. He does not wave flags and dance in front of TV cameras. He engages in the nuts-and-bolts work of lawmaking, working with members of both parties to solve problems. His work on numerous issues has allowed him to rise quickly within the ranks of the Democratic leadership. After two terms he has become chief deputy whip within the Democratic caucus.
Welch works hard to remain in touch with Vermont, as his service after Tropical Storm Irene showed. He has worked hard to secure for Vermont the aid that it needs and has stayed in touch with communities throughout the state.
After two terms, Welch has shown that he deserves another.
Bernard Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, has emerged as a leading spokesman of the left during the ongoing economic crisis. Vermonters have always valued the consistency and authenticity of Sanders’ message that unchecked corporate power is a menace to the nation. The abuses of Wall Street and the willingness of Congress to serve as enablers for those abuses have been the cause of a historic economic collapse and a broader trend of damaging economic inequality. The concentration of wealth at the top has weakened the economy and stifled opportunity.
Sanders’ warnings about these trends were not heeded, but now his message is resonating across the country, and he has become a popular figure on the left. It is Sanders’ time.
As a senator he concerns himself less with the ordinary problems of ordinary Vermonters than Welch and Sen. Patrick Leahy do, but it is important that the cause of economic justice have a defender with a message as clear and compelling as Sanders’ message.
Welch and Sanders have both established themselves as leaders popular with Vermont voters, which is why the Republicans have put forward only token opposition. Mark Donka is running for the House and John MacGovern is running for the Senate. Donka is a police officer who has never held statewide office, and MacGovern is a former Massachusetts legislator. Both have put forward the standard Republican reading of the state of the nation, which is that government spending and the mounting national debt are the real impediments to economic recovery.
That interpretation of our economic circumstances is at variance with recent history and common sense. Debt and continuing deficits are a cause for concern, but at a time of economic collapse and its aftermath, economic stimulus and deficit spending are what the economy needs. The robust economy that emerges will produce the revenues that will allow us to address our deficit problems. It is what happened during the administration of President Clinton. The austerity program practiced in Europe has led to a double-dip recession that America, thanks to the stimulus provide by President Obama and the Federal Reserve, has managed to avoid.
Welch and Sanders are likely to coast to victory on the basis of their years of service to Vermont. Vermonters know them and value the work they have done.
Their political profiles differ: Welch is a practical, pragmatic politician who pursues progressive goals with a bipartisan approach; Sanders has become a sort of leftist folk hero. In this time when the nation requires a major course correction toward greater economic justice, they both have a role to play.
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