Despite being slammed by some as a big-government lefty, Sanders’ track record is more complicated — and arguably more libertarian than has been appreciated. Even libertarian stalwart Ron Paul has come out in support of Sanders’ small-government credentials, shortly after his son, Rand, left the Republican race.
Bernie has espoused positions similar to Rand’s, even joining with him to oppose government surveillance. Last year, Sanders wrote a blistering criticism of the ‘Orwellian’ practice of spying on citizens. He voted against the 2001 Patriot Act and its dreadfully named replacement, the Freedom Act, in 2015 — both of which Clinton supported. He is arguably the only candidate left who takes positions that can legitimately be described as libertarian.
He supports freedom of speech. He backs net neutrality and opposes attempts to censor the internet. In 2005, he introduced the Stamp Out Censorship Act, which sought to prohibit the government enforcing ‘indecency fines’ on non-public media (it failed to pass). Recently, addressing students at Liberty University (a Christian institution whose president has just endorsed Donald Trump), most of whom think very differently to Sanders, he said ‘it is vitally important for those of us who hold different views’ to engage in debate. Sadly, though, he also made what many look upon as a censorious promise to ‘bring climate-[change] deniers to justice’.