Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is a rare bird in Washington, DC. Throughout his career—first as mayor of Burlington, then as a seven term Congressman, and now as a Senator—Bernie Sanders has been a model for what it means to be a true representative of the people. He is sensible, practical, down to earth, and cares deeply about the ordinary working person. Unconcerned about the next news or election cycle, he boldly speaks truth to power. He consistently opts for vision over political expediency, a rare quality in any elected official. In a town bought and owned by corporations, Bernie refuses to play. He describes himself as a democratic socialist, and for decades, the people of Vermont have been happy to have him represent them. A socialist is OK by them.
In February of this year, Bernie Sanders introduced the 10 Million Solar Roofs and 10 Million Gallons of Solar Water Heating Act of 2010. You can read his comments about the bill here. Briefly, it calls for 10 million new solar rooftop systems and 200,000 new solar water heating systems over the next 10 years. The bill—which would provide consumer rebates for the purchase and installation of solar systems—will triple our current solar energy capacity and move us toward a clean energy future. Also, it will dramatically increase the production of solar panels, bringing down their cost, while creating over a million new jobs.
Bernie’s bill is a no brainer. It addresses our growing energy needs, the dangers of global warming, and provides a lot of jobs. Who, in their right mind would have a problem with this bill? Yet Republicans and Democrats who take money from the oil, gas, nuclear, and coal industries may hesitate to vote for it. If that happens, the corporate, short sighted, sociopathic need for profits will once again trump a sensible government program that could improve our lives.
We thought Obama, like Bernie, would put ordinary people first. Instead, he made back room deals with the health care industry against our best interests. And, he worked behind the scenes to undermine the public option part of health care reform even as he pretended to support it. Recently, he praised the wonders of our “free market” system (propped up with trillions of our tax dollars) and lauded the “savvy businessmen” of Wall Street who nearly destroyed our economy. He thinks Americans don’t begrudge Wall Street execs making a lot of money. Really? We thought we elected Mr. Hope and Change, but it appears we elected Mr. Goldman Sachs.
Maybe some day we will elect a president who is a true champion of ordinary Americans. But, as we have learned somewhat painfully, the chances of that happening in our current corporatist state are slim. But, meanwhile, we do have Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont, and a handful of other senators and congressmen, whom we can trust. His refreshing, practical, sensible Ten Million Solar Roofs Act deserves our praise and support.