On this much, both supporters and detractors agree: [Bernard Sanders], whom Vermonters last week elected as the first independent to the US House in 40 years, is the rare politician who does not tailor his positions to fit the day's fashions. Indeed, at age 48, Sanders is every bit the leftist true believer he was when he made his first stab at office, running for governor two decades ago.
Big business and its practitioners are just as antithetical to the good of the poor and working masses as they ever were, in Sanders' view, and the socialist economic struggle is still the prism through which he views the world. "Although it's a little veiled, Bernie talks class politics and no one else in American politics does that," said Stanley (Huck) Gutman, an English professor at the University of Vermont and one of Sanders' best friends.
Some leftist activists argue that Sanders, for all his working-class rhetoric, has compromised too often and become too much a part of the very system he vows to reform. (One of his major objectives in Washington, he said in the interview, is to help promote a third-party movement in the United States.) Many Democrats and Republicans in Vermont complain about the opposite, that Sanders was too rabid a socialist to help this city grow as much as it could and that he will not be effective in Congress for similar reasons.