Ronda Rousey endorses Bernie Sanders: Is she a socialist?

The MMA star, who has become one of the highest-paid female athletes in the world, has attracted attention for her stances on issues like the gender pay gap. But her support for Sen. Sanders comes on an unusual, bipartisan issue: campaign finance reform.

(Don Feria/AP Images for WWE)
UFC fighter Ronda Rousey makes a surprise appearance at WrestleMania 31 on March 29, 2015 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. WrestleMania broke the Levi’s Stadium attendance record at 76,976 fans from all 50 states and 40 countries. Rousey just endorsed Bernie Sanders for president.

Ronda Rousey, the mixed martial arts star, actress, and Olympic medalist, recently endorsed self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont for president for a reason that may surprise her fans – his stance on campaign finance reform.

"I’m voting for Bernie Sanders, because he doesn’t take any corporate money," Ms. Rousey told the magazine Maxim.  

"I don’t think politicians should be allowed to take money for their campaigns from outside interests,” she said.

Rousey, who is currently the undefeated UFC champion, is well-known for her rapid-fire knockouts of opponents, once in 14 seconds. Her own story, of overcoming personal struggles to rise to prominence in the sport, seems to point toward a more pro-capitalist, possibly right-leaning worldview, making her endorsement of Senator Sanders appear at first to be all the more surprising, the Washington Post notes.

She’s sometimes seen as an icon to some on the right, as a series of videos featuring her answers to questions about her views on feminism, the pay gap, and gender equality have gone viral.

In August, responding to a question about the pay disparity between herself boxing champ Floyd Mayweather, who often earns millions from a single pay-per-view fight, she pushed back, saying she was “very comfortable” with the amount she earns.

“If I got to a point where I had almost 50 fights, I would probably be making close to the same amount of money as Floyd does,” Rousey told Yahoo News correspondent Bianna Golodryga.

“But at this point, I have 11, so I can't expect it to be exactly equal yet, I don't think. I have to put more time in,” she added.

In contrast, Sanders has said “it’s not a radical idea” that the government should step in to help boost women’s wages to make them equal to men, the Washington Post's Amber Phillips notes.

In a clip from one video that went viral, Rousey later expanded on her views, taking what might be described as a gender-neutral stance.

“Fighting’s not a man’s thing, it’s a human thing, to say that it’s anti-woman I think is an anti-feminist statement. And UFC – I’m the biggest draw in the sport and I’m a woman, how is that anti-woman?” she said.

But regardless of where Rousey’s views fall on a traditional political spectrum, her own stance in favor of limiting money politics points to a larger trend – campaign finance reform is increasingly a bipartisan cause.

In a New York Times/CBS News poll released in June, 84 percent of those surveyed said that money has too much influence in political campaigns today, the Monitor’s Jessica Mendoza reported.

Nearly 80 percent of those in the favored limiting the amount of money an individual can donate to a campaign, the poll found.

An electorate increasingly dissatisfied with traditional politicians has fueled the rise of candidates like Sanders, who recently netted $26 million this quarter through 650,000 primarily small donors, who each gave about $30.

The idea of an outsider politician has also fueled the rise of non-traditional Republican candidates like Ben Carson and Donald Trump, who previously said he thought he would win Rousey’s endorsement.

“Ronda Rousey is an example, who likes me,” Mr. Trump told CNN last summer. “I’d take her on my side as a fighter.” And Trump's views on the need for campaign finance reform are similar to Sanders.  

But Rousey quickly squashed the idea of a Trump endorsement, suggesting perhaps the conservatives’ assumptions about her own views are not quite accurate.

Instead, she told Maxim, she’s often found herself dissatisfied with the field of presidential candidates. In 2012, she says she voted for comedian Roseanne Barr, who mounted a third-party campaign for president.

“I was so unimpressed with the whole presidential campaign that I picked whatever third party I saw, and I saw Roseanne and thought, 'That’s awesome,’ she told Maxim.

Ms. Barr, was a critic of Barack Obama's candidacy, writing that ”He has no ideas, no plan, and nothing to add other than the cynical pacification of the masses with bedtime stories about hope."  

But Sanders’ stance on campaign finance makes him stand out, Rousey says.

“I’m really pulling for Sanders this time. I hope it works out,” she told Maxim.

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