Democrat Senator breaks ranks to back Sanders, explains why

New York, April 13 (IANS) Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat from Oregon, has broken ranks with his party colleagues to openly back Bernie Sanders for president.

In a piece carried in The New York Times Wednesday, Merkley wrote: “After considering the biggest challenges facing our nation and the future I want for my children and our country, I have decided to become the first member of the Senate to support my colleague Bernie Sanders for president.”

Of the 44 Democrats in the Senate, 40 have endorsed Hillary Clinton, the party favourite for nomination, while three others are yet endorse either candidate, according to the Huffington Post.

Clinton currently leads Sanders in both nationwide polls and delegate counts. However, Sanders, having won seven of the last eight primary elections, has claimed he has built momentum ahead of a crucial contest in New York on April 19.

In the piece, titled ‘Why I’m supporting Bernie Sanders’, Merkley argues that although Clinton “has a remarkable record” and would “be a strong and capable president”, he believes “Sanders is boldly and fiercely addressing the biggest challenges facing our country”.

He praised Sanders for opposing trade deals, for preferring renewable energy over fossil fuels, for taking on the “concentration of campaign cash from the mega-wealthy that is corrupting the vision of opportunity embedded in our Constitution” and for unflinchingly opposing “predatory lending, as well as the threats to our economy from high-risk strategies at our biggest banks”.

Comparing opportunities for today’s children to when he was growing up, Merkley felt “America has gone off track, and the outlook for the kids growing up there (Oregon) is a lot gloomier today than 40 years ago”.

“Many middle-class Americans are working longer for less income than decades ago, even while big-ticket expenses like housing, health care and college have relentlessly pushed higher,” he noted.

The problem, according to him, is that “our economy, both by accident and design, has become rigged to make a fortunate few very well off while leaving most Americans struggling to keep up”.

Merkley said there was a need to “recommit ourselves” to a vision that measures “our nation’s success not at the boardroom table, but at kitchen tables across America”, adding: “Bernie Sanders stands for that America, and so I stand with Bernie Sanders for president.”

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