Anti-Establishment Candidates: Bernie Sanders Vs. Gary Johnson On 5 Key Issues

Dustin Murrell - Author

Nov. 3 2016, Updated 2:15 p.m. ET

With the Presidential primaries beginning in Iowa in less than a month, a lot of people assume that Hillary Clinton has the democratic nomination in the bag. Struggling to keep up with the former Secretary of State is the self-proclaimed “democratic socialist,” Bernie Sanders. A lot of Sanders’ ideas do not align with the standard positions of the Democratic National Committee, causing him to recently admit that “we are taking on the establishment, and I think it’s fair to say that I’m not the candidate of the establishment.”

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An anti-establishment candidate from the opposite end of the spectrum, Gary Johnson announced on Tuesday that he would be seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination for Presidential candidate. While Sanders is still hoping to win the Democratic nomination, Johnson is running completely outside of the two-party system.

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Many Americans have grown weary of candidates that rarely color outside of their party lines and seem to be interchangeable with one another. Some believe that’s the reason that Donald Trump has garnered so much support — he is the least political of all the candidates. Those who think outside of the standard Democrat/Republican political box — but believe in the value of experience in politics — can now look to Sanders or Johnson as a candidate they can resonate with.

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Below is a very quick, very summarized view of both candidates positions on five popular topics in the 2016 election cycle.

The Environment

The group Climate Hawks Vote — who release information about Democratic congressmen and their leadership in the fight for the environment — scored Bernie Sanders at +63 (on a scale of -100 to +100) for the most recent session of Congress. That ranks Sanders in the top 10 percent among Democratic congressmen. In the prior session, Sanders scored a +95, the highest of any Senator.

Unlike the more well-known Libertarian Ron Paul, Johnson is not in favor of abolishing all pollution regulation. Johnson believes it is the responsibility of the federal government to keep us safe from those who are harming the environment. He openly supports environmental regulation, as long as it makes sense economically. As noted by Legal Planet, he is opposed to cap and trade, believing that the free market will ultimately solve the issue of carbon emissions.

Gay Rights

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As far back as the 1970s, when Sanders was running for Governor of Vermont as a Liberty Union Party candidate, Sanders was openly an advocate of gay rights, calling for the abolition of all laws related to homosexuality. While in the House of Representatives, he voted against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act.

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Gary Johnson has stated that he believes gay marriage should be legalized at the federal level.

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“As I have examined this issue, consulted with folks on all sides, and viewed it through the lens of individual freedom and equal rights, it has become clear to me that denying those rights and benefits to gay couples is discrimination, plain and simple.”

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Legalization of Marijuana

Both candidates believe the federal laws against marijuana are wrong. In November, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill calling for the removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act, thus ending the federal prohibition of marijuana.

On New Year’s Eve, Gary Johnson stepped down from his position as CEO of Cannabis Sativa, Inc. so that he could focus on running for president. Johnson has long been an advocate of legalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Gun Control

Despite being on the far left on so many issues, Sanders has said that he holds a very centrist position on gun rights, thinking that the answer won’t come from either extreme. In 2005, Sanders received criticism from the left for voting to protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits involving violent acts committed with their products.

Gary Johnson does not support gun control initiatives. He believes that the 2nd Amendment clearly calls for an individual’s right of gun ownership.

Campaign Finance

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The differences in economic policy and philosophy between the socialist-leaning Sanders and the Libertarian candidate Johnson could fill volumes. One small part of the debate about politics and economics is a call for campaign finance reform. Both candidates supported turning over the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Both candidates believe that more transparency is needed.

In fact, Johnson believes that complete transparency is the only regulation necessary when it comes to campaign finance. Sanders, on the other hand, calls for a complete overhaul to the system. He is a strong advocate of the notion, “one voice, one vote.” He has repeatedly claimed that our elections are being bought by billionaires.

Both men have several weeks before their respective parties elects their candidate for the Presidential election.

[Image via Twitter]


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