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From the Fresno for Bernie campaign: An opinion piece by Chip Ashley, Steering Group, Fresno For Bernie:

Chip Ashley, staffing the Fresno County Democrats booth at the 2015 Big Fresno Fair.

Chip Ashley, staffing the Fresno County Democrats booth at the 2015 Big Fresno Fair.

In a political season when many are looking for an outsider, Bernie Sanders brings to the table the best of both insider and outsider.

In one sense, Sanders is an insider. He has served in federal elected offices for 25 years. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990 after serving three terms as Mayor of Burlington. In 2006 he was elected Senator in Vermont, where he still serves.

But Sanders is not the typical insider who relies on focus groups and polls to tell him which way the political wind blows at a given moment. He has not given in to the temptation to take contributions from the powerful few who have taken over the economy and now enjoy all of its benefits while ordinary citizens must work harder and harder just to stay even in an economy designed by lobbyists and politicians in the pockets of the rich and powerful for the rich and powerful.

Sanders is an outsider in the sense that he knows he serves each and every member of his constituency, not just those with enough money to buy elections. A popular bumper sticker sums it up: “Bernie Sanders: Not for Sale.”

Tabling for Bernie at the recent Intermountain Nursery Harvest Festival, I talked with a Vermonter named Bob. Bob said simply, “There’s nobody like Bernie.” When I learned Bob was from Vermont, I said, “I guess you know where all the bodies are buried.”

“There aren’t any,” he said.

Bob then went on to explain that Senator Sanders had helped his brother, a veteran having trouble getting help from the VA for his hearing disability. Sanders took the trouble to have Bob’s brother’s records pulled and went to bat for him, finally getting him the help he needed.

Bernie knows who he works for.

This is why Bernie was re-elected twice as Mayor, six times as Congressman, and once as senator.

In a post-moral, post-ethical world, Bernie Sanders is fighting to re-establish ethical and moral imperatives. For Sanders ethics and morals are not about merely personal behavior; they are about community. And Sanders is willing to take unpopular votes when it is right to do so.

As a Congressman in 1996, Sanders was only one of 57 House members to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). At the time, rural Vermont favored the bill, but Sanders voted against it simply because it was the right thing to do. But Vermonters respected Sanders’ vote and elected him senator in November of that year.

Sanders understands the moral imperative that government in a real democracy is about serving the whole community and enabling every member of the community to live a rich and meaningful life. For Sanders democracy is about individuals, but it is about a community of individuals and how they live together and help each other.

Bernie Sanders is an insider who thinks outside the box. He’s a classic.

For ongoing Fresno County activities to nominate and elect Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016 follow Fresno For Bernie on Facebook. You can reach Chip Ashley at