Inevitably, the Bernie Sanders-media lovefest will come to an end. When it does end, reporters and Democrats will learn that Sander’s socialist credentials are not quite as pure as Vermont’s driven snow.
We shouldn’t be surprised that Sanders is being given a pass by the media. The “anyone but Hillary” mentality is already well-entrenched with people covering the campaign for various web sites and other media, and with the mostly white audiences that turn out to hear their hero take on the establishment.
Of course, by “establishment,” we now mean Hillary Clinton.
Thus far, no one wants to look at the similarities between Hillary’s and Sanders’ voting record. In fact, according to a New York Times article, they voted the same way 93% of the time when Hillary was still in the Senate. Looking at actual votes, there is barely any difference between Clinton and Sanders.
What is fascinating is the Times’ claim that the main difference concerns foreign policy issues. It is assumed that Hillary is more conservative in this area. “The 31 times that Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders disagreed happened to be on some the biggest issues of the day, including measures on continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” writes the Times’ Derek Willis.
Despite his own claims, Sanders has not been an antiwar leader. Ever since he won election to the House, he has taken either equivocal positions on U.S. wars or outright supported them. His hawkish positions — especially his decision to support Bill Clinton’s 1999 Kosovo War — drove one of his key advisers, Jeremy Brecher, to resign from his staff. Brecher wrote in his resignation letter, “Is there a moral limit to the military violence you are willing to participate in or support?”
So outraged were peace activists over Sanders support of the Kosovo War that they occupied his office in 1999. Sanders had them arrested. Under the Bush regime, Sanders militarism has only grown worse. While he called for alternative approaches to the war on Afghanistan, he failed to join the sole Democrat, Barbara Lee, to vote against Congress’ resolution that gave George Bush a blank check to launch war on any country he deemed connected to the September 11 attacks.
Ever since, he has voted for appropriations bills to fund the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, despite their horrific toll on the occupied peoples as well as U.S. soldiers.
That’s a harsh indictment from Sanders’ ideological playmates. In more recent votes as Senator, Sanders — perhaps looking ahead to his presidential candidacy — has become more dovish in his votes.
Socialists don’t think much better of Sanders when it comes to his economic policies or his track record as a pro-labor force for change. The Dissident Voice:
Whatever his betrayals, Sanders can still give an excellent speech about the evils of corporate power and the barbarity of class inequality, but he does so as a fellow traveler of the corporate Democrats, who he supports even as they move further and further to the right.
Figures like Bernie Sanders could help workers form a party of their own to challenge the corporate duopoly, and build a more politically self-conscious working-class movement. Instead, like Jesse Jackson and other Democratic liberals, he is the progressive bait on this capitalist party’s hook — to tempt people who would otherwise want a genuine alternative into supporting a party opposed to their demands and aspirations.
“Progressive bait on this capitalist party’s hook?” A nice turn of phrase, but more to the point, the critique reflects a bitterness about Sanders that has left many “true believers” questioning his real commitment to change.
There’s more, of course, that we need to research and review about Sanders’ voting record. I will say, however, that my initial review of his Senate record shows no real leadership skills or effectiveness as a legislator, i.e. the ability to introduce and pass legislation. In other words, Bernie Sanders has been something of a wallflower in the Senate, at best adding his name to a long list of co-sponsors for Democratic legislation, at worst marginalizing himself with an ideology he doesn’t really believe in.