How are we to process the ultimate impact of Bernie Sanders in the age of President Donald Trump? Though he failed to clinch the Democratic nomination, he created an impassioned movement like few we've witnessed in modern political history. The documentary BERN examines the aspects of his ideology that resounded most with the American people, and how these ideals have defined him throughout his career.
Assorted media clips portray Sanders as a true maverick on the political stage; unafraid to speak truth to power or even rebel against the status quo of his own party. For example, he spoke out against the 1994 crime bill proposed by then President Clinton, which he viewed as an immoral ploy to incarcerate greater numbers of the disadvantaged population. This would later come to represent a key contrast between himself and Hillary Clinton during the presidential race.
Sanders' ire against the growing wealth divide constituted perhaps his most meaningful contribution to the national dialogue. He repeatedly rallied against tax breaks for the super rich at the expense of the lower and middle classes, and denounced politicians who had become the puppets of wealthy special interest groups.
The film plays like a greatest hits compilation of these and many other causes which were near and dear to Sanders' heart. It races through a series of early career highlights with great velocity until it eventually settles in to his impactful presidential bid. Whether battling Hillary Clinton on a debate stage, or blaring misgivings about then candidate Trump in various television interviews, Sanders' message was uncommonly consistent for a career politician. In many respects, he remained a 60's radical at heart, and this spirit proved particularly infectious for the youngest voters who were eager for change and willing to approach the notion of Democratic socialism from a fresh perspective.
BERN could prove tiring and repetitive for those who feel drained in the aftermath of a vicious campaign season. But it's a potent reminder of a movement that mattered to many, and it could serve as a motivation for these viewers to continue Sanders' message into the next election cycle and beyond.