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Intricacies of Congressional Politics


Uma Purushothaman

OUTSIDER IN THE WHITE HOUSE
By Bernie Sanders  with Huck Gutman 
Three Essays Collective, Gurgaon, 2015, pp. 346, Rs. 500.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 3 March 2016

The US Presidential elections are upon us and what better time to read political memoirs of the leading Presidential candidates than this? Bernie Sanders is junior Senator from Vermont and was the first Independent elected to the US House of Representatives in forty years. He is the longest serving Independent in the history of the US Congress and is the co-founder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus in Congress. He joined the Democratic Party in 2015 and is currently fighting for the nomination of the party. Two candidates have caught the popular imagination through their unconventional views in these elections—the Democrat Bernie Sanders and the Republican Donald Trump. While Trump has captured eyeballs because of his racist statements, Sanders has brought to the fore of the political debate the issue of social and economic injustice and inequality in the US. His challenge to the Democratic establishment’s candidate, Hillary Clinton, has only grown stronger, particularly after his win at the New Hampshire primary. Interestingly, both Sanders and Trump have similar views on the excesses of Wall Street and campaign donations from big corporates. Both have rejected such donations because they do not want to be beholden to such corporations. Sanders says he does not want such donations and Trump says he does not require these donations because he is rich. Outsider in the White House is Bernie Sanders’s rendering of his political journey so far. The book is the second edition of Sanders’s memoir originally published as Outsider in the House in 1997. Written with his long term political aide, Huck Gutman, the book gives deep insights into politics as practised by Bernie Sanders. In fact, the book is being sent free by the Sanders campaign to those donating online to Sanders. Sanders’s campaign funds are mostly from individuals and that too online. The book traces Sanders’s political life, focussing on the current Presidential campaign and his run for the House of Representatives as an Independent in 1996, which he won. It also looks at his years as the Mayor of Burlington and his efforts to ensure the participation of people in the administration of the city. Sanders talks about how difficult it was for him to work as the only Independent member in the House of Representatives and as the ‘socialist mayor’ of Burlington. What stands out in the memoir is the conviction of the ...


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