Bernie Sanders

Sanders on Crumbling Infrastructure

"And when our infrastructure—our roads, our bridges, our water system, our rail system—is crumbling, there is more than enough work to do. Let’s rebuild our infrastructure, create millions of decent paying jobs." 

On Friday, July 17, 2015 at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame dinner
Sources: C-Span, Fox 10 Phoenix (Sanders delivers similar remarks in Arizona the following day)

The Context: Bernie Sanders has been making the rounds at large-crowd rallies with a speech (or similar versions) outlining his stance on a variety of issues as well as his proposals for many of them. The overarching theme of the speech is income inequality and economic injustice, whether discussing education, jobs, campaign finance, health care, banking reform, or (as in this statement) infrastructure investment. Throughout many of his speeches (including the following day in Arizona), he highlights the 2008 TARP bailout of Wall Street in conjunction with several of these issues, all of which he ties back to a systemic gap between the wealthy and the rest of America. 

Soon after TARP, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was signed in February 2009 aimed toward simultaneous job creation and new investment in many of the country's heavy infrastructures. The program included funding for the sorts of infrastructural projects Sanders listed, with an emphasis on rail (even high-speed rail) and others to both update and advance the country's systems. Since then, many of the larger intended projects—and, notably, the rail projects—have not been implemented by state and local leaders. 

Sanders is not alone in this point. Many candidates (for this race and others) consistently discuss massive infrastructure plans as a means toward many ends: job creation, technological and economic advancement, global competitiveness, and making America safer. Of course, there are many different ways to assess the condition of our infrastructures and whether it is up-to-par for the 21st Century. Considering the track currently in place, we figured taking stock of the accidents that may have been avoided if it weren't for the state of tracks, mechanical systems, roadbeds, or communications systems, might be the most basic measure. And so, we asked

Since 2009, how many and where (relative to existing track) have our rail accidents occurred due to failures in our infrastructure?

Bernie Sanders Is Running for President

"It is no secret that there is massive discontent with politics in America today. In the mid-term election in November, 63% of Americans did not vote, including 80 percent of young people. Poll after poll tells us that our citizens no longer have confidence in our political institutions and, given the power of big money in the political process in general, they understand that their pain is not being heard in Washington."

On Tuesday, May 26, 2015 in Burlington, VT
Sources: USA Today, Sanders campaign website 
Note: In late April, Sanders informed his supporters of his intention to run for the presidency. For more information on the timing of his announcement, see CNN.

The Context: Sanders's comment on the trend of decreased political participation sits within an overall theme of his speech, threaded through several of the issues he raises, specifically that "the American political system has been totally corrupted, and the foundations of American democracy are being undermined." He describes this discontent as largely resulting from the relationship between political processes and political and campaign finance and one in which voters have lost confidence in their political institutions and in the power of their vote.

Given the figures cited by Sanders, the discussion surrounding voting rights in recent election cycles, and the importance of state-level voter turnout with our electoral college, we asked

How has voter turnout for Presidential Elections changed in the last several years? Additionally, what are the regional trends?