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Enlightenment Period: Thinkers & Ideas

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The 2020 presidential candidates have heavily impacted our history. One of the many historical events that affected American politics was the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was a European cultural and philosophical movement that originated in England and spread throughout Europe like wildfire. The Enlightenment took place in the 1700’s . The Enlightenment occurred because the Europeans began to question things such as how to improve their government. The enlightenment produced many philosophers called philosophes. The philosophes believed that people were morally good yet capable of improvement. These ideas not only affected the American Revolution, but they have trickled their way into the political agenda of the 2020 American presidential election candidate, Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders hails from vermont and he is a former mayor of Burlington, elected to the House of Representatives in 1990, elected to the Senate in 2006 and he ran for president in the 2016 presidential election. Bernie considers himself a democratic socialist which is defined as a mix of communism and social democracy. He is in the independent party. He has run as a Democrat in both the 2020 and 2016 presidential elections. Bernie’s ideas are most similar to English philosopher John Locke’s ideas about equal opportunity in life and Jean-Jacques Rousseau who believed in civil liberties. Bernie Sanders’s agenda mainly consists of his ideas of medicare for all, a higher minimum wage, and free college tuition. Bernie Sander’s intent of creating better equality is enlightened because his policies would create equal opportunities for healthcare and education for all.

Bernie Sander’s objective for equal education and equal opportunity for health care is connected to the enlightenment idea that the best form of government is a representative democracy. This is evident as the concept of representative democracy is to create equality for all via a voting based government. The enlightenment idea is to make this intention clear by one of its philosophers John locke’s beliefs on the idea. He stated that “Man is. . . by nature all free, equal, and independent, no one can be put out of this estate, and subjected to the political power of another, without his own consent”. This shows that the idea of implementing a representative government is just a way to achieve equality in European society both of these agendas were created to make a more equality-based society. It’s clear that the idea of implementing a representative government is just a way to achieve equality in European society both of these agendas were created to make a more equality-based society. Another example of how the Enlightenment formed bernie sanders ideas of equal chance for education is that John locke influenced the declaration of independence. This is proof that the Enlightenment formed bernie sanders ideas as the american presidential candidates base their platforms off the declaration of independence. Another way Bernie Sanders policies have been affected is through his political style. Bernie’s Considered by The New York Times’s Sydney Embers, Sanders has a “anti-establishment style”. This connects to the enlightenment because his less severe political technique is connected to a representative democracy. Another piece of proof that bernie’s campaign is an enlightened one is because a representative government has checks and balances. This is important because enlightenment philosopher Baron de Montesquieu believed in checks and balances according to Richardson, Annette from World History The Modern Era. Checks and balances are a way for one branch of government doesn’t become too powerful or in other words to create a sense of equality. This relates to bernie sander platform that exudes a sense of equality through his free healthcare and education systems. The final way that Sanders political platform connects with this enlightened philosophy about equality from the Amercan constitution which had some inspiration from John Locke’s political theory stating were “essentially equal in political terms and that no one person could claim inherent or innate authority over any other”. This displays that from John locke’s work in the constitution has affected Bernie’s Ideas. Based on the evidence it’s clear that Bernie Sanders has used the Enlightened philosophy throughout his work for equality and justice his entire career.

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Another enlightenment philosophy thought that is incorporated in Bernie Sanders’s political plan is the belief that a good way to make laws is for all the people to directly vote on them. This is true because Bernie Sander’s belief is that everyone should have a voice in government. This is shown through Bernie’s active participant in the American democratic party. Another way that Bernie’s political platform connects with this enlightened philosophy about direct voting from John Locke’s idea “maintained that before the advent of government and political society, humans lived in a ‘state of nature,’ perfectly free and self-ruling”. This is significant because it shows an enlightenment philosopher saying how no matter the social or monetary difference between people they know what they need in their government, thus deserving a vote. This thought process imprinted on Burnie’s democratic beliefs. Another piece of evidence that Sanders was is enlightened is through Locke’s motto of life, liberty, and property as said by Robert Kiely author on the database World History:The Modern Era. Rober also said Locke believed that “They are not part of the power given by the people to government, and if government infringes upon those rights, then it has violated the contract that binds people to it. In such a situation, the people have the right to alter it or form a new government.”This is relevant because it shows that people’s voices on government are of an importance which is similar to the democratic view on politics. Bernie Sander’s work makes it evident that it was imprinted by the enlightenment.


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