A while back someone asked me to explain why I don’t like Bernie Sanders. So here is my best attempt to explain why I dislike him.
First Findings About Sanders
The first thing I remember hearing about Bernie Sanders was his appearance at Netroots Nation’s conference in Phoenix during the summer of 2015. Friends of mine who went said they were unimpressed with how he handled it. I was willing to give a bit of a pass because I hadn’t been there but it was a preview to what was to come. Sanders does not like being challenged by anyone. Ever.
I had other friends who thought he was the bee’s knees. But they didn’t really seem to have a lot of information about him outside a few pat phrases. For instance, when asked what he has done, I was told he was the Amendment King. Essentially, he didn’t introduce a lot of legislation but he did get a lot of amendments added to other bills. And it is judged true by Politifact. That does not however tell me what these amendments were or how much they helped other people. That’s not helpful if you are trying to persuade people to vote for your guy.
Back when I was a big Deanaic, I could and still can rattle off a list of his accomplishments: he got nearly universal health care in Vermont by expanding Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance, he instituted a nurse’s visit to new mothers to help them recover from birth (very important in light of our worsening maternal death rate), he signed the civil unions bill being one of the first governors in the US to expand marriage equality while at 35% in the polls and went on to win the next election, he had started his career as a man who wanted a bike path and became governor when his predecessor died while fixing a pool. That’s what I expected from the Bernie people and to this day, never get.
However they assured me Bernie was better than Clinton because he hadn’t voted for the Iraq war and was anti-bank. Also she gave speeches to a few Wall Street banks and he hadn’t despite the fact that it wasn’t legal for him to do so anyway as a member of Congress. That made him better. Also he got lots of small donations so that made him a lot better.
I was not convinced. After all, Howard Dean rode a wave of people power/small donations and failed to place in Iowa high enough and eventually dropped out of the Democratic primary. I honestly thought this was simply the same thing. A guy from Vermont who is fresh and new and everyone jumps on board only to leave later on. No harm no foul.
The Harassment Campaign
But then I started seen some disquieting things. Ta Nehisi Coates did an article on Sanders and caught living hell until he finally said he was going to vote for the man. Many other writers or media figures did the same thing after a wave of harassment. To me that isn’t persuasion, that’s bullying. That’s making someone do something not because they want to but because they have to in order to stop someone’s treatment of them.
Other people started getting bullied for supporting Clinton: Representative Jim McDermott was harassed multiple times over this leading to two arrests. One Sanders supporter put together a hit list. There was a literal gauntlet for Clinton supporters to have to walk through in Los Angeles. The infamous threats that the Nevada Democratic State Party Chair endured after the last caucus meeting. On and on and on. But hey, those Bernie Bros don’t exist right? Even though many people pointed out they do by their own personal experience. And the Bros themselves announced they believed they had the right to treat people this way because they are “discomforting the establishment Democrats.” I witnessed it first hand. First with my friends who had to ultimately unfollow or unfriend on Facebook because their hatred for Clinton was so out of control they were blaming her stuff she literally had nothing to do with. Then with people on Twitter and other online spaces.
That didn’t make me want to support Sanders. That made me want to avoid anything to do with him.
I am going to briefly go over what I thought at the time was a tempest in a teapot but turned into something much darker by the Sanders campaign. I am talking about the data stealing that Sanders allowed to happen on his watch.
The Sanders campaign was suspended from using the website that most of the campaigns in the Democratic Party use because of the fact that they went into the Voter Access Network (VAN) and stole data from the Clinton campaign. It wasn’t a long suspension and it was well before the start of the actual voting yet the reaction by Sanders and his team was eye-opening to say the least.
First they did the right thing-they fired the person responsible and supposedly held other people accountable. And that was sufficient for the DNC to restore access. It was apparently not good enough for Sanders and his team since they immediately filed a lawsuit for access. The lawsuit dragged on until April of 2016 when they finally withdrew the lawsuit long after access was restored and any possible damage was gone.
His campaign screwed up and he should have taken responsibility and left it at that. Instead he let a lawsuit drag on for months for no reason. That isn’t the actions of someone I want anywhere near my party.
The Behavior of Sanders Himself
That might have been the end of it. After all, I was pretty nasty myself by the midpoint of the campaign towards people. Clinton wasn’t that responsible for my behavior and Sanders wasn’t that responsible for his online hordes following him. Especially since there was plenty of Russian troll armies doing things to whip it up. He was responsible for his own behavior however. And that behavior started out great. Then he started losing and lashing out. This is a common trait with him by the way. When he is running against a woman and loses he acts like the way he did with Clinton. He immediately claims he is better than the person running on their top issue. That is why he claims he was better for civil rights than Clinton (despite voting for the crime bill, he got a pass from much of the media and his supporters while Clinton was held fully responsible for the bill while having neither written or signed it.) and his lack of actual effort over the past forty years for civil rights. But did you know he marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.?
Then when he lost or didn’t get endorsements, he started insulting the organizations that didn’t endorse him. When Planned Parenthood stood with the woman who had always stood by them, he called them establishment which by then he had defined to mean anyone who isn’t me. There was push back of course but the damage was done. Then he didn’t bother to pay any attention to an article written up with a pretty bad headline. Clinton never said she thought he wasn’t qualified, she said she thought he hadn’t shown he was ready. But clickbait has to clickbait and Sanders immediately claimed she wasn’t qualified despite her clear record being qualified based solely on the headline and doubled down until the wave of outrage pushed him back slightly.
He started making claims that the party was being unfair to him. He even wrote a letter to Debbie Wasserman Schultz making that claim and threatened a floor fight at the convention if he didn’t get his way. This started setting up a certain general election candidate to say similar things against Clinton. There were countless examples of these petty, mean-spirited things he did.
And he never reigned in his surrogates until absolutely forced to. As an example, when Dr. Paul Song called Democrats corporate whores Sanders didn’t have his team yank him off stage and it took more than a day to get Sanders to say anything disavowing this. Meanwhile his supporters started throwing dollar bills at Clinton at a fundraiser and he never disavowed that.
The New York Daily News Editorial Board Meeting
Now we come to one of the most horrible interviews with an editorial board meeting since I was in one for an endorsement from the AZ Republic. The NYDN meeting with Sanders was horrifying. He knew nothing. He remembered nothing. There were times I was cringing while reading it because I couldn’t believe someone running for President could give these answers. Hell *I* could answer them better and I don’t know a damn thing about running a country.
They asked him questions directly in his wheelhouse too. For instance:
Daily News: And then, you further said that you expect to break them up within the first year of your administration. What authority do you have to do that? And how would that work? How would you break up JPMorgan Chase?
Sanders: Well, by the way, the idea of breaking up these banks is not an original idea. It’s an idea that some conservatives have also agreed to.
You’ve got head of, I think it’s, the Kansas City Fed, some pretty conservative guys, who understands. Let’s talk about the merit of the issue, and then talk about how we get there.
Right now, what you have are two factors. We bailed out Wall Street because the banks are too big to fail, correct? It turns out, that three out of the four largest banks are bigger today than they were when we bailed them out, when they were too-big-to-fail. That’s number one.
Number two, if you look at the six largest financial institutions of this country, their assets somewhere around $10 trillion. That is equivalent to 58% of the GDP of America. They issue two-thirds of the credit cards in this country, and about one-third of the mortgages. That is a lot of power.
And I think that if somebody, like if Teddy Roosevelt were alive today, he would look at that. Forgetting even the risk element, the bailout element, and just look at the kind of financial power that these guys have, would say that is too much power.
(Clinton’s interview was a lot more detailed but then, this is Hillary Clinton, the woman does her fucking homework which is what I should be doing.)
This is a terrible answer. He doesn’t talk about where the authority is (which is mostly under Dodd-Frank more details here) He doesn’t talk about the repercussions to the markets, to the local and global banking economy, he doesn’t mention what happens to those people no longer working at JP Morgan Chase. He doesn’t answer the questions at all because he doesn’t know.
When I brought this up with the one of the few remaining Bernie supporters I could stand, he said was absolutely okay to give these non-answers that showed Sanders has no idea what he is talking about because that’s what staff is for.
I was appalled. You should know something of what the law can do so you can effectively review what the staff brings you as ideas. You can’t just let them do everything because how do you know that person is giving you useful information or feasible policies? We see it now with the Trump Administration since none of them know what they are doing besides Elaine Chao and Nikki Haley. (Interesting the only two who are competent are the women.)
The DNC Convention
We come to the end of the race and Sanders refuses to drop out. Why did he refuse to drop out after he had lost so decisively? After all he lost it by 12 points, 977 delegates, by open primaries, closed primaries, caucuses and whatever you call Nevada. But he didn’t drop out until July 12th. Which is odd since the last primary was June 14th. He kept going and even kind of promised a floor fight unless he got his way on the platform and other things he wanted.
Yet despite all of the pleading for unity, he didn’t do squat until after a certain press conference that was bizarre in of itself. A week after that, he endorsed Hillary Clinton tepidly in New Hampshire. He immediately then went on to work on his book Our Revolution and skipped campaigning for her until the end of August.
To his credit he did a lot of campaigning in places like Wisconsin and Michigan. But during the DNC convention, he addressed his supporters a single time on their behavior and ignored their repeated efforts to drown out the speakers on every night of the convention. His facial expressions said it all. He was miserable to be there and angry he didn’t win.
After the Election
Since the election, which he immediately blamed on Democrats not paying attention to the white working class despite there being next to no evidence of that being why Clinton lost (racism and sexism explain it and was pretty obvious right from the start), Sanders has returned to being an independent. As Clinton pointed out in her new book, this isn’t a smear, it is what he says. He has taken that perch to spend as much time bashing the Democratic Party as he can. Here, here, here and on and on.
This despite the legislative victories the Dems keep racking up. They stopped the health care bill in the Senate (although zombie like it keeps coming back), they completely won on the most recent budget deal, which isn’t the first time and continue to do as much as they can to stop the Republicans in their tracks for all of the Republican priorities.
As we enter the 2018 election which starts around 01/30/2018, the Democrats are already starting to pick up seats in the state legislatures (these two and then these two) and have been running about 10 points in their favor for most elections.
But Sanders can’t help himself I guess. When you get lots of love from the media, that’s what you stick to. His endorsement is the kiss of death (none of the winners were endorsed by him) and his PAC that he started Our Revolution is more focused on scoring cheap political points than winning elections (they have won one seat, the NY seat which while listed on the candidate’s website, she barely mentioned when campaigning.)
Am I being petty? Somewhat but I am deeply angry. 2016 was a terrible year for me in a lot of ways and one of the key ones was the fact that an old man from Vermont did everything he could to make it miserable for those of us ecstatic to finally have our turn as women at the head of the table because he didn’t win. So I don’t like Sanders. He had some ideas I agree with (most of which were thought up by Democrats previously-single payer system, college, doubling the minimum wage which was Truman again as well as increasing taxes.) But his behavior has made me pretty much hate him. He can go back to being the backbencher he has always been. I am tired of his shtick. Tired of the insults, the petty sniping at people trying to stop the Trump Administration and the lack of respect for others.
So that’s why I don’t like Bernie Sanders. You’re welcome.