by Paul Bradford
Remember Bernie Sanders? You know, the goofy socialist who nearly became the Democratic nominee in 2016 and 2020. In both presidential races, his supporters touted him as a threat to the system. His campaign was a “revolution” and, if he became president, he was going to bring down the warmongering, plutocratic establishment.
Bernie has since proved these claims very wrong.
Last week, he tweeted in support of Liz Cheney, the very embodiment of the warmongering plutocratic establishment.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) will likely be voted off the House Republican Leadership. Her crime: acknowledging the reality that Trump lost the election. The Republican Party is no longer a "conservative" party. It is an anti-democratic cult pushing the Big Lie and conspiracy theories.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 6, 2021
It’s very strange for a supposed democratic socialist to care that the GOP is “no longer a conservative party.” It’s also very strange for an Iraq war opponent to demand the GOP continue paying fealty to the Cheney clan. It’s even stranger for someone who has long claimed to question government authority and media narratives now to be insisting that doing so threatens our democracy. The tweet reads more like one from Bill Kristol than from the Bernie of 2016.
But the Vermont senator wasn’t done repeating the establishment’s line. He followed up with this tweet a few days later:
The political debate in the U.S. now is not over the economy, healthcare, climate, racial justice, etc. The real issue is whether we remain a democracy. Tragically, the GOP has become an authoritarian cult based on lies and conspiracy theories. They cannot be allowed to succeed.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 9, 2021
The assertion shows Bernie spends too much time watching Rachel Maddow. It’s unclear how Republicans are trying to eliminate democracy, besides some of their members questioning the management of the 2020 election. Several Democrats declared the 2016 election illegitimate, which brought no cries of creeping authoritarianism.
The side Bernie is on is the side that wants to direct the national security state against the American people. This anti-democratic action is done in the name of “democracy”—even though it requires us to give up our freedom of speech and assembly. Bernie’s fellow democracy supporters harass, deny bail, censor, and put Americans on no-fly lists because of their political beliefs.
Sanders, who previously cried foul over the War on Terror and the PATRIOT Act, now supports all of this. The national security state is OK so long as it goes after white conservatives.
These two tweets expose what a fraud Sanders is. We’ve seen signs of this ever since he announced he was running for president again in 2019. Bernie spent years defending American workers from the cheap labor dictates of giant corporations. He voted against amnesty in the 2000s and opposed guest worker programs for most of his career. He told Lou Dobbs in 2007: “I don’t know why we need millions of people to be coming into this country as guest workers who will work for lower wages than American workers and drive wages down even lower than they are now.” In 2015, he derided open borders as a “Koch brothers’ proposal.
Now he supports that Koch brothers’ proposal. He offered one of the most left-wing immigration agendas in the 2020 Democratic primary. He called for mass amnesty, free healthcare for illegals, a huge increase in legal immigration, and the abolition of immigration enforcement—all measures that would benefit corporate interests at the expense of American workers. Sanders currently serves as a co-sponsor of Joe Biden’s amnesty that legalizes millions of illegal aliens, expands guest worker visas, and dramatically increases immigration.
Sanders made his career as a trade protectionist who denounced globalism as harmful to American workers. Yet, he denounced Donald Trump’s tariffs that were intended to protect American manufacturing and jobs. Most Democrats switched their positions on trade due to Trump; Bernie proved to be no exception.
Sanders also proved he was no free speech defender during the 2020 election. He wanted to punish the tech giants for allowing “misinformation and hate speech” on their platforms when he ran for president. To his credit, he may have reversed that position somewhat. He said in March he was uncomfortable with Trump’s permanent suspension from Twitter. But even in that interview, he said the government needs to do something about the “big lie mentality and conspiracy theories.”
The Vermont senator bills himself as an opponent of foreign interventions. Yet, he denounced Trump’s troop withdrawal from Kurdish areas in Syria. He also supported Bill Clinton’s intervention against Serbia in the ’90s and didn’t oppose Barack Obama’s Libyan intervention in 2011.
Despite the imaginations of his most ardent supporters, Bernie is just a basic Democrat. The Democratic establishment may have rigged two elections against him, but he will never question the sanctity of the 2020 vote— even though Democratic operatives brag openly that they conspired to ensure a Biden victory. He will go along with policies that hurt American workers so long as they advance the cause of “racial justice” and aggravate those he labels xenophobic Republicans. He will support foreign interventions so long as Democrats champion them. And he will support the worst warmongering plutocrats so long as they oppose Trump supporters.
Bernie is right to say the real divide is not over policy issues, but over whether America will remain a democracy. He stands on the side of the military-industrial complex, megacorporations, and the deep state. On the other side are humble, hard-working Americans who simply want to put America first.
Which side sounds more democratic?
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Paul Bradford is a Capitol Hill refugee now earning an honest living.
Photo “Bernie Sanders” Shelly Prevost CC 2.0.