Why I Support Bernie. A long and consistent record as a Progressive champion

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Over the past seven years, Republicans have made clear everything they oppose. But as Democrats, we repeatedly say, “It’s not enough to say what you’re *against*, tell us what you’re *FOR*. What’s *YOUR* solution?” Two weeks ago, I posted a lengthy list of inconsistencies & concerns that I have about Hillary Clinton. But it’s not enough to give you reasons NOT to vote for Hillary, I need to give you a reason to vote FOR Sanders. That is the focus of this week’s (lengthy) Op/Ed. Unlike many, I didn’t just learn of Bernie Sanders last year after he declared he was running. I’ve been following him for years as a regular guest of Progressive talk radio. Ideologically, Bernie’s doppelganger is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Both have made fighting for social & economic justice the focus of their careers. And when Warren stayed true to her word and declared she absolutely would not run, the next obvious choice for millions was Sanders. I ask Clinton supporters: If Hillary were running against Warren… taking “gender” off the table… would Hillary still be your preferred candidate for president? If the answer is “No” or “not sure”, then you’re not choosing your candidate based on “issues” or “qualifications”. Sanders, co-founder of the “Congressional Progressive Caucus”, has an extensive & documented history of consistently being on the right side of the issues going back decades… fighting for the poor & middle class, economic justice, civil rights, health care, and the judicious use of military force.

But as I said, you need specific reasons to pick one candidate over another. In the week between the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, Chris Christie pounded Marco Rubio mercilessly for his inexperience and canned responses. That criticism was probably most responsible for Rubio’s distant fifth place finish in New Hampshire. But all the attacks didn’t help Christie, who ended up finishing behind Rubio in sixth place and Christie dropping out. He only gave voters a reason not to NOT vote for Rubio not vote FOR him.

I recommend starting off with this List of Bernie’s accomplishments while in Washington.

Here is my own list of reasons to vote FOR Senator Sanders for president (in no particular order):
 

1. Civil Rights

Sanders arrest during civil rights protest, 1960 – Chicago Tribune
Sanders arrested during civil rights protest 1960

Senator Sanders is famous for two things: fighting for “Economic Justice” and his long & documented record of fighting for “Civil Rights” going back to the early 1960’s. If you ask even the most casual voter to tell you something about Bernie, you can bet it’ll fall under one of those two categories.

I found it particularly offensive the other day when famed Civil Rights leader and longtime Clinton friend Representative John Lewis questioned Sanders’ long & documented history of fighting for Civil Rights in order to (falsely) claim the “Congressional Black Caucus” was endorsing Hillary Clinton, saying (quote):
 

“I never saw him. I never met him…. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton.” (translation: they were there. You were not.)

 

In 1962, Lewis’ own “CORE: Congress of Racial Equality” appointed the 20-year old Sanders as one of only two people from the University of Chicago to head a commission to investigate on-campus housing discrimination that Sanders had been protesting. (ibid: “documented” above.)

In 1964, 17 year old Hillary Clinton was a “Goldwater Girl”, supporting the Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater known today as “The father of American Conservatism“, and while not a racist, called school desegregation “an abuse of power by the Court” when he voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Lewis likewise never met Bill Clinton until 1970, and in Lewis’ own autobiography, every mention of Bill Clinton in his book Walking With The Wind described an instance where Bill OPPOSED some policy that Lewis cherished (source). Tens of thousands of people of all races across the country stood up for Lewis’ civil rights… including Bernie Sanders. Just because they were never in the spotlight does not make their contributions any less important.

While Secretary Clinton is now talking about issues like “economic inequality” that weren’t even on the radar of most Democrats prior to this election, Sanders has been completely consistent on this issue for decades. In this 1988 video, then Burlington Mayor Sanders enthusiastically endorsed Civil Rights icon Jesse Jackson for president, citing Jackson’s work fighting “income inequality.” 28 years (let alone 54) is pretty damn consistent (go back to last week’s column for a review of Clinton’s own inconsistency on a litany of issues.) Last week, Jackson… who marched with Lewis AND Dr. King, returned the favor, coming to the defense of Sanders following Congressman Lewis’ attempt to impugn the Senator Sanders’ record. Bernie has also been endorsed by former head of the NAACP Ben Jealous and another Civil Rights icon, singer Harry Belafonte.

After the 2000 election was stolen (thanks in part to then Florida Governor Jeb Bush), a 2004 investigation by investigative reporter Greg Palast revealed that some 90,000 eligible voters had been knocked off the voting rolls… some 60,000+ of whom were African-American. To draw Media interest in the findings in an election year, Lewis’ own Congressional Black Caucus held a protest inviting ALL members of Congress to attend. “Senator Sanders was the only white person to show up”. Senator Clinton was a no-show.

Congressman Lewis took a lot of heat… not just from Sanders supporters but even from other black leaders and members of the CBC. Rep. Keith Ellison, also of the CBC and a supporter of Sanders, says neither he… nor anyone else in the CBC… was consulted about the “endorsement”, and that it was actually “the CBC SuperPAC that had endorsed Clinton, NOT the CBC itself.

Lewis has (as of this writing) yet to apologize to Senator Sanders after questioning his record of fighting for racial equality, only going so far as to claim “I never meant to imply” that Sanders’ contributions were less important, and that he likewise didn’t mean to suggest the Clintons had a “better” record of fighting for Civil Rights (though that is clearly what he was implying.) His “non-apology apology” smacks of “I’m sorry if you were offended, but…”, except that he didn’t even use the words “I’m sorry.” And in this writer’s opinion, Rep. Lewis does indeed owe the Senator a heartfelt apology.

One of my Facebook followers, a Hillary supporter, also dismissed Sanders’ early work on Civil Rights, basically asking me “Okay, but what has he done for me lately?” Even if Bernie had never done anything else on the issue… and he has… dismissing his incredible bravery & work all those years ago as insufficient to justify ones’ respect today is likewise offensive. I’m not aware of Hillary Clinton being particularly well known as a tireless fighter for Civil Rights. But for those who need something more recent”, here are “19 ways Bernie Sanders has stood up for civil and minority rights.”

I defy anyone to distinguish this clip of Senator Sanders in 2014 decrying “income inequality” and high black youth unemployment from a campaign speech given by him today. The “wisdom, judgement & consistency” of Senator Sanders can’t be ignored. Which brings us (naturally) to…
 

2. Trade, the Economy, Jobs & Economic Justice

As I’ve already noted in links going back to the 1960’s, Bernie Sanders has been raising the issue of social justice literally for decades. But “social justice” and “economic justice” go hand-in-hand. Senator Elizabeth Warren… his near ideological twin… voted the same as Senator Sanders 87% of the time according to OpenCongress.org (Clinton & Warren never served together, so a voting comparison is not possible.)

 

Warren vs Sanders

 

The only reason why everyone… even Republicans… are suddenly talking about “income inequality” is because Sanders & Warren dragged it into the spotlight. Before Warren became a Senator, Bernie was a lone voice in Congress championing the issue, and famously filibustered extension of the Bush Tax Cuts for 8-1/2 hours in 2010 (without a bathroom break). In 2009, Senator Sanders put forth a bill to cap credit card interest rates at 15%. The bill failed. His bill was in response to a 2008 bill to cap interest rates at a whopping 30%. Senators Obama & Sanders voted against it, Senator Clinton voted for it (expressing a desire to see it even lower, but by the time Sanders’ bill made it to the floor in May of 2009 [ibid “cap”], Hillary had already resigned from Congress to serve as Secretary of State.)

Hillary is only now talking about “income inequality” thanks to people like Sanders & Warren bringing up the issue. Before they made this a national issue, did you EVER hear ANYONE talking about “income inequality”? Sanders is driving the conversation. Clinton is talking about these issues only because Sanders has made it an issue.

Bernie famously grilled Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan before Congress in 2003 where he essentially predicted the collapse of the banks 5 years later. If you haven’t watched this 5-minute clip by now, you should. Sanders blasts Greenspan for suggesting “it doesn’t matter where products are made” because our economy is so strong. Five years later following the collapse of Wall Street, Greenspan admitted his “ideology was flawed” [ibid same video] and isn’t sure where he made his mistake.

In 2010, Bernie called for President Obama to appoint Senator Warren head of the new “Consumer Protection Agency” that “she championed”.

In 2013, the Republican Controlled Congress voted to “cap” student loan rates at 8.25%. Sounds like a good idea, no? The bill passed 81-18. Seventeen of the 18 “No” votes were Democrats, among them Senator’s Warren and Sanders. With passage of the bill, “need-based student loan rates doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.” Senators Warren, Reed and Sanders argued they could not support the bill because it “profits off the backs of students.”

Senator Sanders has since proposed making all public colleges free (again), paid for via a stock market “Speculation Tax” that I cover in more detail below. Hillary has proposed “making college more affordable” but rejects the idea of extending free public education past the 12th Grade.

Then there’s the issue of so-called “Free Trade”.

I don’t hold Secretary Clinton responsible for bills her husband signed as president, and I can fully appreciate the First Lady supporting her husband on any issue, but the first Free Trade Agreement setting the standard for all terrible Free Trade Agreements to follow was NAFTA in 1993. And understandably, Hillary continues to defend it to this day. So when President Obama proposed the “Trans-Pacific Partnership” (TPP), as his Secretary of State, she defended that as well, calling it “the gold standard” of how such treaties should be done. She continued to defend the TPP after declaring her candidacy for President last year, and it was only months later when supporting the TPP… unpopular with Democratic voters… became inconvenient did she finally rescind her support for it. Did she secretly oppose the deal all along but didn’t want to be seen as contradicting her boss? Any argument that her support had anything to do with loyalty to Obama flew right out the window the moment (as mentioned last week) she sided with Senator McCain (again) and openly criticized President Obama in 2014 for refusing to arm the Syrian rebels, and blaming that decision for the rise of ISIS (and we now know roughly a quarter of the Syrian rebels were members of ISIS! Wouldn’t THAT have been a great decision for her to have made as president!)

Regardless of WHY she supported/defended these awful Free Trade Agreements, she now has a history of doing so, and there is no reason to assume she wouldn’t support another “Free Trade” agreement in the future.

Meanwhile, Bernie has opposed every “Free Trade” agreement ever proposed. In 1993, as mayor of Burlington, VT, he took the “con” side of an Op/Ed debating the passage of NAFTA:
 

Sanders on NAFTA

 
NAFTA was first proposed during the George HW Bush presidency and became the signature issue of Texas billionaire Ross Perot who ran for president as an Independent in 1992 as the only candidate who opposed it. Perot famously warned that, if passed, we would hear “a giant sucking sound” of corporations (and jobs) moving to Mexico for the cheap labor and low tax rate, importing their finished goods back into the United States without having to pay a tariff or import duties. The boom years of the late 90’s appeared to have contradicted those fears as the economy took off thanks to the dawn of the Internet and panic-tech-hiring over “Y2K”. But the tech bubble burst, “Y2K” was a bust (which I predicted), and more & more companies made good on their threats to move to Mexico. (One man told Senator Sanders recently that every time his union tries to negotiate for higher wages or more benefits, “the company simply threatens to move to Mexico.”)

During the 2012 presidential race, Senator Sanders blasted Mitt Romney for calling for even more “Free Trade” agreements in light of the closing of “56,000 factories and 5.3 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs.” (We all remember Romney’s fatal “Marie Antoinette-like” 2008 response to the auto industry: “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”.)

The (supposed) idea behind “Free Trade” agreements is that they “open up foreign markets to American made goods.” And at one time, America DID make a lot of goods for export. We don’t any more because countries we’ve entered into “Free Trade” agreements with made the same stuff as us only cheaper, putting American factories (and consumers) out of work. American-made clothing is now rare, and there’s no such thing as an “American-made” TV or electronics anymore. You couldn’t buy one if you wanted to. Even Apple iPhone’s are made in China.

Senator Sanders has consistently & wisely opposed all so-called “Free Trade” agreements, opposed the TPP from the beginning, and will continue to do so in the future.

He has also been a LONG time defender of Union rights. When the GOP starting making noises about wanting to privatize the U.S. Postal Service, Bernie came to their defense, for which the “American Postal Workers Union” recently showed their thanks by endorsing him (as has “National Nurses United”.)

Former Labor Secretary under Bill Clinton Robert Reich (who took unemployment down to a remarkable 3.9%) is a huge Bernie supporter and has been releasing a series of videos on Youtube defending the Senator’s proposals. Of particular interest: his 10-part series on how Bernie’s plan for Wall Street reform will prevent Americans from being “screwed again”:
 

Part 4: Tame Wall Street

 

Another economist, UMass Amherst professor Gerald Friedman performed an analysis (PDF) on the impact of Bernie’s economic policies and came up with some astounding (if accurate) numbers like a 4.5% GDP (where 3.5% is considered extremely good). One columnist from “Mother Jones”, the Progressive magazine & website, believes the numbers may be too good to be true (follow-up: “on second look, maybe not” by same author two days later), and if Republicans retain control of Congress after the election, it would seem even less likely, but even if only a few of Sanders’ policies are instituted, the benefit to the country would be substantial.

One of Bernie’s best ideas (IMHO) is the proposed “1/10th of a penny Speculation tax” on every stock trade. Not only could this generate enough money to provide free public college tuition for every student, but it would also help to bring wild speculation under control. “Speculation” is responsible for the dramatic swings in the stock market we’ve been seeing since the Bush Administration. Baseless speculation in the oil market drove oil prices into the stratosphere, going from $29/barrel in March of 2003 to $147/barrel in July of 2008 resulting in global economic collapse. We saw this again recently with the panic over the collapse of the Chinese stock market. Stock Traders quick to panic-sell over the slightest hint of bad economic news would be less inclined to sell if they knew just doing so would cost them money. A “speculation tax” would calm the Markets and help stabilize the U.S. economy.

While Hillary is now on the bandwagon for breaking up the Big Banks, Bernie has long said any company that is “too big to fail is too big to exist”:
 

Sen. Sanders in 2008

 

He also questioned the Treasury Department in May of 2000 regarding “Predatory Lending Practices” and again seeming to foretell the inevitable banking crisis to follow. Look for videos of Senator Clinton saying these things before 2015. You won’t find it.

Bernie supports raising the Minimum Wage to $15/hour (a “Living Wage”), saying “No one who works full time should be living in poverty.” (Clinton has stated she is only willing to go as far as $12.) Large corporations like Wal*Mart are able to underpay their employees to where they make so little, they still qualify for Federal Assistance (like Food Stamps), making taxpayers make up the shortfall in their income. For all the fear-mongering Republicans do over “Socialism”, forcing the Federal Government to subsidize the pay of millions of underpaid full-time employees just so that corporations can pocket the savings smacks of Communism and Welfare fraud.

(BREAKING: The SEIU [Service Employees Union], which has endorsed Clinton, distributed fliers ahead of the Nevada caucus falsely suggesting Clinton supports a $15 Minimum Wage.)
 

3. National Security & Foreign Policy

Hillary is a hawk. That is well established. Everyone knows by now that Senator Sanders opposed giving President Bush unilateral power to invade Iraq when she didn’t, and as I’ve noted earlier, unlike Hillary Clinton, Senator Sanders opposed arming the Syrian rebels and agrees with President Obama in opposing a “No Fly Zone” over Syria. Consider where we might be today if Hillary had been elected President in 2008? If you recall, Russia invaded neighboring Georgia in August of 2008 right about the same week Clinton finally dropped out of a protracted & contentious race, so she never got to say much on that issue at the time. But in 2009 as Obama’s Secretary of State, despite famously bringing a big red plastic “Reset Button” with her for her meeting with Russia’s foreign minister, Hillary was openly lambasting Russia over Georgia barely a year later and signing an agreement to put a missile defense system in Poland [ibid] that President Obama previously opposed and infuriated Russia. One might defend Clinton by arguing she was only doing the White House’s bidding, but I point out again that the job of “Secretary of State” is “chief diplomat”, and her job is to “talk down” such provocative actions. I direct you to her successor, Secretary John Kerry, who brokered the first peaceful negotiations with Iran & Cuba in over 50 years.

Also in 2014, with rumors of Hillary once again likely to run for president, our former chief diplomat publicly compared Vladamir Putin to “Adolph Hitler” for annexing neighboring Crimea by force. I’m trying to picture now how Clinton expects to negotiate ANYTHING with a man she once compared to “Hitler” should she become president? Senator Sanders commended President Obama for agreeing to deal with Russia through sanctions, not using inflammatory rhetoric.

As president, Bernie agrees with President Obama in opposing a “No Fly Zone” over Syria. Clinton does not. Last week, Russia was caught on film “carpet bombing” Azaz, Syria, destroying two hospitals and a school, killing at least 22 people. If we had a “no fly zone” over Syria and started shooting down Russian planes, we might now be at war with Russia. There are consequences to hawkish rhetoric. Sanders knows this. Clinton clearly does not.

No one has yet explained to me how we prevent ISIS from hiding beneath any “No Fly Zone” (only to be protected by our own U.S. Air Force)… much the same way “Ansar al Islam” (the alQaeda splinter-group seeking to kill Saddam Hussein) hid beneath our no fly zone in Northern Iraq (and George W Bush pointed to as “proof” Saddam was “harboring” alQaeda in Iraq to justify war.)

Sanders opposes arming the Syrian rebels. More guns have never made anyplace more peaceful (keep that in mind when Clinton attacks Sanders’ position on gun control). As I pointed out above, not only did Clinton support arming the rebels but openly criticized President Obama in 2014 [ibid above] for having not done so, leading to President Obama reluctantly agreeing to seek $500 Million “to arm & train” the rebels. But that program turned into a spectacular failure last October, resulting in the Obama Administration deciding to focus on simply “arming the rebels” and forego training. What could possibly go wrong? ISIS was born of frustrated former Iraqi Sunni soldiers (then known as “AQAP” when President Bush was in office) going to Syria to fight for their fellow Sunni’s against President Assad. Imagine where we’d be today if a President Hillary Clinton had inadvertently armed ISIS, sent troops into Georgian territory to defend against Russia, and fired upon Russia fighter jets violating her “no fly zone” last week in Syria?

In December of 2007, Congress voted on the bipartisan “National Defense Authorization Act” (HR-1585) to fund the military for 2008. Sanders voted Yea along with 43 other Democrats. Obama & Hillary abstained. Bush vetoed the bill (if I read it correctly, because it didn’t give military contractors like Blackwater the same government standing as regular military). When Senate Republicans tried to pass a supplementary bill designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as “terrorists” (possibly justifying war with Iran), Sanders voted “No“, Obama abstained and Clinton voted “Yea”.

During the 2008 race, then Senator Obama chastised Clinton for suggesting the United States might “obliterate” Iran if it attacked Israel, saying such rhetoric was worthy of the Bush Administration. Clinton now campaigns on her work to “open the door” to reestablish diplomatic relations with Iran that led to Obama’s historic nuclear agreement last year. How does one negotiate with a nation you’ve branded as “terrorists”? What chance do you think such an agreement might of had if she had been elected president in 2008?

Last August, Senator Sanders said he would NOT end the use of drones, but criticized their overuse resulting in too many civilian deaths, declaring the U.S. should be more selective about using them.

On Israel, Senator Sanders would be Netanyahu’s worst nightmare because the Neoconservative president of Israel would not be able to bully the Jewish Sanders by stoking fears of being labeled “antisemitic” if he didn’t comply with his every whim. Bernie has embraced the “two state solution” that would grant Palestine statehood inside Israel and urged negotiations with Iran over Netanyahu’s objections.
 

“We have to negotiate with others, even Iran.” (Sen. Sanders, Aug 2015. Source.)

 

Imagine for a moment what it might mean for world peace if a Jewish president of the United States was seen as an honest-broker negotiating peace in the Middle-East. You want to talk about a “historic” election? You can’t get more historic than THAT!
 

4. Infrastructure, the Environment & Global Warming

Senator Sanders has made “Rebuilding our infrastructure” a cornerstone of his campaign. 13 months ago as ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and long before he decided to run for president, Senator Sanders introduced the “Rebuild America Act” to create 13 million jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure similar to FDR’s WPA. His call to break up the big banks? Not unlike the establishment of the SEC or Teddy Roosevelt’s “Trust Busting”. Your protection against another Trillion-dollar bailout.

We have seen the catastrophic consequences of our crumbling infrastructure with the crisis in Flint, MI. Senator Sanders has demanded that Michigan Governor Snyder resign, charging that Snyder knowingly allowed a lead-poisoning crisis in Flint to continue. Hometown hero & filmmaker Michael Moore endorsed Senator Sanders, citing not only his reaction to the Flint crisis, but his storied history of fighting for Civil Rights, Universal Healthcare and Economic justice.

Sanders has been ridiculed on the right for saying “Climate Change is the greatest threat facing America”, sticking to his guns when later asked if he believed it was an even greater threat “than ISIS and alQaeda”. He pointed out that “in the sort term”, ISIS may be a grave threat, but they don’t pose the same global cataclysmic danger posed by “rising oceans”, runaway “heatwaves & drought”, larger & more deadly storms that kills tens of thousands and cause billions in property damage, wars over natural resources, all at a cost of Trillions to try & fix after it’s too late. ISIS is a flea compared to that.

He opposed the Keystone XL pipeline where as Hillary needed time to “study the issue” until she finally concluded she was against it. (Huffington Post: Bernie Sanders Will Ban Fracking. Hillary Clinton ‘Sold Fracking to the World’.)

In 2013, Bernie co-sponsored the “Climate Protection Act” along with Sen. Barbara Boxer. His long legislative work on fighting Global Warming earned him the ranking of “Best Candidate on Climate Change” by Mother Jones magazine. Sanders has a 95% rating with The League of Conservation Voters (that’s “Conservation”, not “Conservative”).
 

5. Supreme Court

With the recent passing of Conservative Justice Scalia, the question of just who the candidates might appoint to the Supreme Court has become a major issue. If the GOP Congress gets its way and stalls the appointment of Scalia’s successor until the next president takes office, the next president could conceivably take office with a Supreme Court nomination waiting for them.

Sanders has said his “litmus test” for his first judicial appointment is whether they’d “overturn Citizens United”, which we all want to see done away with. Probably one of the most destructive political rulings by the Supreme Court in the last 50 years was the 5/4 decision to allow the mega-wealthy to make unlimited contributions to political campaigns via “SuperPAC’s” (also known as legalized bribery.) The Conservative majority declared that “money = speech” and therefore restricting money was a violation of “free speech”. The result: the more money you have, the more free speech you get, flying right in the face of the tenets “one man, one vote” and “all men are created equal”. Conservatives on the court just decided wealthy businessman’s voices deserved to be heard more than yours or mine. This is why Senator Sanders is the ONLY candidate without a SuperPAC (even Donald Trump has a SuperPAC. He’s not even the largest contributor to his own campaign!) In one of her victory/concession speeches (either Iowa or NH, I can’t recall), Clinton suggested there was “no one more interested in seeing Citizens United overturned” because… “if you recall”… it was in response to a movie attacking Clinton in the middle of the 2008 race. But if I may point out, it is that very law that now makes SuperPAC’s like hers legal, and she seems to be taking full advantage of it to defeat her rival.

Supporters of SuperPAC’s believe that as long as the candidate does not receive the funds “directly”, they won’t feel beholden/obligated to any one group or individual. In the crime world, this is known as “money laundering”. Does anyone REALLY believe the candidates don’t know just who is making these large donations to their campaigns? And what happens once the candidate is in office with plans to someday run for reelection? Do you think maybe… just maybe… that elected official might feel reluctant to offend their large corporate donors by advocating and/or signing a law that might affect that industry? THAT is why SuperPAC’s are bad.

While Sanders has nearly kept pace with Clinton in individual contributions, Clinton has six (6) SuperPAC’s raising money for her (seven others that have raised $0), the largest of which… “Priorities USA”… has raised $41 Million of her $163.6 Million total, allowing her to dramatically outspend Sanders in this campaign. (Compare to Sanders’ OpenSecrets.org Corporate contributors page. I’ve never seen a politicians page so devoid of Special Interests.)

Sanders was an outspoken supporter of gay rights when Senator Clinton was still saying she believed “Marriage is between a man and a woman”. In 1995, then Representative Sanders opposed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, defending the rights of gay soldiers to serve openly. The bill, signed into law by Bill Clinton, would not be repealed for another 16 years under President Obama. In 1983 two years before being elected as mayor of Burlington, Sanders backed the state’s first ever “Gay Pride Parade”.

With a 100% Pro-choice rating by NARAL, Sanders has denounced Republicans seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade, and there is no question he would continue to do so in any Supreme Court nomination he makes.

Once again, Bernie’s track record of being right the FIRST time around and not needing to “evolve” on an issue is what we need in a president who may very likely have to replace the three oldest Liberal Justices remaining on the Supreme Court.
 

6. Health care & drugs

Secretary Clinton has decided to accuse Senator Sanders of wanting to “repeal ObamaCare” as he attempts to replace it with “Universal Single Payer Health Care”… a program she supportsno, she opposesno, she supports. Whatever her position on the issue, it’s unfathomably dishonest and unworthy of someone claiming to be a Progressive Democrat. (In 2008, when the Obama campaign sent out mailers warning voters that Hillary’s health care plan “would force every person to buy health care”… yes, he did that… an angry Hillary Clinton responded by suggesting that no Democrat should ever attack another Democrat on health care.) As the Sanders campaign is pointing out in this photograph, the former First Lady personally thanked then-Representative Sanders in 1993 for his “work to make health care affordable.”

As Sanders himself has repeatedly stated, he is not about to “repeal” the Affordable Care Act before passing anything that might potentially replace it. It is true he was not a fan of the eventual bill that stripped out a Public Option and left the private insurance industry in charge, but it HAS provided more people with health care coverage than ever before… even if it does still leave more than 20 Million Americans without insurance. In all due honesty, Secretary Clinton may be right when she says “Single Payer will never ever happen” [ibid: opposes], but I’m not impressed by someone not even willing to TRY, and misrepresenting Bernie’s position on this issue is something I’d expect from a Conservative, but (once again) not from someone claiming to be a Progressive Democrat.

In 2011, Senator Sanders introduced two medical innovation prize bills in the Senate to de-link R&D costs from drug prices. This was an innovative solution to help control soaring drug prices due to a loophole in the Affordable Care Act, put there by Republicans to protect drug company profits. This is not a man looking to recklessly “undo” the ACA, but someone looking for better solutions within the existing system.

As Bernie repeatedly points out, in Europe, their health care systems cover everyone, cost less, and provide better outcomes. These are the programs Sanders hopes we will learn from. Michael Moore’s 2008 movie “SiCKO” was all about learning from the universal health care programs in other countries. It drove the 2008 presidential debate and perhaps was most responsible for Congress focusing on Healthcare Reform during the first year of the Obama presidency. And despite his reservations, Sanders voted “FOR” the ACA. He’s not about to repeal it without something better to replace it. (Here is video of what Bernie had to say about soaring Prescription Drug prices in May, 2012.)

Speaking of drug prices, “Medical Marijuana” is now legal in 27 states (plus DC) and “recreational” use is now legal in four. Personally, I do not use Marijuana (can’t stand the smell and don’t use intoxicants of any kind), but keeping it illegal while far worse products like alcohol and legal prescription opiates can be found almost anywhere makes absolutely no sense. It’s a way to fill up prisons with people denying the drug & alcohol industry sales of their higher-priced alternatives. Senator Sanders is also the only candidate to suggest the legalization of marijuana as part of ending the failed “War on Drugs” that has led to the disproportionate filling of our jails by the poor & minorities. Hillary has only been willing to go as far as to suggest “further research” into possible use as a medical “ingredient” in someone else’s expensive prescription drug… doing nothing to curtail rampant drug crime connected to the growing, sale & distribution of one of the most harmless drugs in existence.
 

7. Debunking “The Country Will Never Elect a 74 year old Socialist Jew” meme

Just before the New Hampshire Primary, Chris Christie during a campaign stop before a small group of supporters said:
 

“Let’s face it. Hillary is going to be the Democratic nominee. The Republicans could never be so lucky as to have the Democrats pick a 74 year old  Socialist Jew as their nominee.”

 

The next day, this brilliant prognosticator was out of the race because he also predicted he’d make the Top 5 (no one ever called him out for including “Jew” in that comment BTW.) This very meme mentioned by Christie is also one of the driving forces behind Hillary Clinton’s support. It’s the “She has a better chance of getting elected” meme. But that is NOT what the polls say. “RealClearPolitics.org” maintains an up-to-date list of the largest national polls pitting the Democratic nominees against the Republican nominees. Winners are shown in Red or Blue based on party with the amount they win by. Clinton’s poll results are awash in red, loosing to Rubio in every poll, loosing to Kasich in every poll, losing to Cruz in 4 of 5 polls, with NO matchup in which she wins every poll. Even in her best matchup, Hillary beats Trump by only 7-points in one poll and Carson by just 3.

Meanwhile, Bernie’s poll results are awash in blue, leading Trump by as many as 15-points in TWO polls, and beating Ted Cruz in EVERY poll (by as many as 10-points in the Quinnipiac as of this writing.) The idea that Clinton has “a better chance of winning” is based on nothing.

To those who think the “Democratic Socialist” label will hurt Sanders, consider this: After they call him a “Socialist”, then what? How long do they sell that as the best reason to vote for them over their opponent? Who doesn’t know by now Bernie is a “Democratic Socialist” that has been in elective office for 35 years? They can’t run on that one point for four months. They’ll have to move on to other issues. And that’s when we win. Assuming all those Hillary supporters who demand Sanders Supporters pledge fealty to Clinton should she be the nominee do the same if the roles are reversed, Bernie has a FAR better chance to draw Republican & Moderate votes to his side. He is a registered “Independent” (aka: non-establishment), a champion of the Middle Class, staunch critic of Wall Street and… like it or not… his record on protecting the rights of gun owners will be far more appealing to Conservative voters that may see their own Party candidate as too extreme.

Americans forget that we’ve elected a “Socialist” president before: FDR. And he was so popular, Republicans had to pass a law limiting how many times we can reelect a president (the 22nd Amendment.) I view Sanders very much in that same mold. Roosevelt, following the collapse of Wall Street in 1929, instituted a long list of “socialist” government programs. There were work programs like the WPA (“Work Projects Administration”), the “Rural Electrification Project” and the TVA (“Tennessee Valley Authority”) to finally bring electricity to rural towns & farms (not unlike Green Energy programs being proposed today). He ordered the creation of government consumer protection agencies like the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) to regulate Wall Street and the FDIC/FSLIC to insure bank deposits so that if your bank fails, you don’t lose all your money (there is no question those programs are the only thing that prevented the 2008 crash from being worse than it was.)

But the crash of 1929 didn’t only impact America and leave the rest of the world untouched. Just as with Bush’s crash in 2008, “The Great Depression” destroyed economies the world over. In America, we elected a man who relied on “socialist” government programs to rebuild the country. Germany took the opposite route, electing a ranting/raving Corporate Fascist who told people to blame all their problems on “inferiors” like blacks, Jews & gays. They were required to carry special identification, barred entry into the country, denied their rights and treated as enemies of the state. The nation went to war and began invading countries they perceived as a threat. Is any of this starting to sound familiar? That could be the choice Americans are facing this election. Which road would you rather we go down? (Pardon me for dancing right up to the edge of Godwin’s Law.) It’s mind-numbing when I hear uneducated Conservative voters fear Sanders because they think “Socialist” means he’s a Nazi, and instead turn to someone like Cruz or Trump. #SMH

The ROI (“return on investment”) when we invest in infrastructure is enormous. Millions of children still attend schools that were built in the ’30’s during the Depression. Many still drive across bridges built in the ’30’s. In towns & cities across the country, many government buildings like “City Hall” were erected in the 1930’s. Court houses, post offices… even some roads… were built during the Depression as part of FDR’s investment in infrastructure. Any money those cities haven’t had to spend since then has been a savings of Billions (if not more). Eisenhower’s “Interstate Highway Project” is still paying dividends today, and the Hoover Dam is still generating electricity.
 

Alternatively, Republicans despise Hillary. Viscerally. Living in the South, I can tell you this from personal experience. They absolutely loath her. They consider her “a liar” and “an opportunist”. When they hear her name, they think “BenghaziTM and “Emails!” If Hillary is the Democratic nominee, it will be the greatest GOTV effort the Republican Party dare dream of. And a lot of women voters still will never forgive her for the way she trashed her husbands’ accusers regarding his philandering back in the ’90s. I don’t like saying any of that because I don’t think you should choose your candidate based on fear. But when supporters of Clinton use fear to suggest she’s “more electable” than Sanders, all the evidence proves otherwise.

Towards the end of the last debate prior to the New Hampshire primary (and again during last weeks’ Nevada Town Hall), Clinton had the gall to appoint herself the defender of President Obama’s legacy in the middle of a question about foreign policy after she herself in 2014 openly criticized President Obama for “failing to arm the Syrian Rebels” (1/4 of whom turned out to be ISIS) taking the side of Senator McCain (the man whom she said in 2008 was “more prepared” to be president than her opponent) against President Obama.

As I mentioned above in section #2, Clinton also (supposedly) disagrees with Obama on the TPP and wants a “No Fly Zone” over Syria opposed by both Obama & Sanders. Now she’s the defender of his presidency and chastising Sanders for daring to disagree with him on some issues??? That’s chutzpah.
 

I know I’ve spent a lot of time talking about Hillary here. It couldn’t be helped. I’ve long been bothered by her Conservative tendencies, first taking the Conservative position on issues like war & trade, and any time I see Bill & Hillary (and now Chelsea too) “gang up” to attack a fellow Democrat (like they did to Obama in 2008), I get that same queezy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Do you remember Michelle Obama ever going after Hillary Clinton? And not only has Jane Sanders not attacked Hillary, but she actually DEFENDED her when Trump called her “evil”. So if the issue is “character”, the Sanders’ & Obama’s have it. I’m not so sure the Clinton’s do.
 

The one issue where the Clinton campaign believes it has an advantage is on “guns”. They point out that Bernie “voted against the Brady Bill” (“waiting period”) and voted “to allow guns on Amtrak” (which I debunked in my “Hillary” column two weeks ago.) Sanders has a “D- rating” with the NRA. Sanders, coming from a rural state, believed each state should be allowed to establish its OWN waiting periods. States with lots of hunters and low gun crime might want shorter waiting periods, others might want to establish LONGER waiting periods than those mandated by a Republican controlled Congress. (And as I explained in my other column, the Amtrak vote was about baggage.) In 2013 though, Sanders voted FOR background checks and for banning “Assault Weapons”. Like it or not, Sanders’ past votes on protecting gun rights makes him MORE electable in the general election than Clinton.

Another popular criticism of Sanders is “how is he going to pay for everything he’s promising? Free college? Free healthcare? Jobs program?” I even seem to recall Hillary using the term “free stuff” to criticize Sanders’ plan in a recent speech (still looking for link). That was stunning to me considering Clinton herself recently attacked Jeb Bush for claiming her own proposals were promises of “free stuff”. Why is it Conservatives never call it “Free stuff” or “Welfare” when the money is going in the opposite direction: UP from the wages they DON’T pay their employees to the pockets of corporate CEO’s and/or the Rich? Giving away public land for oil companies to drill on only to sell the oil back to us at a premium? Public Universities doing R&D for the drug companies? And when those wells start to leak, those tankers run aground, or their drugs poison/kill people, at most they pay a fine roughly the equivalent of a few months profits. Corporations get huge tax breaks because they promise to “create jobs”, but when they end up CUTTING jobs and/or move to Mexico, do they give that money back? Hell no. Not only do we not penalize them for moving to Mexico, WE ENCOURAGE IT with still more tax breaks!
 

Bernie's Budget

As I’ve been telling people, “I don’t care if NONE of Sanders’ proposals actually pass. It’s his JUDGEMENT that I prefer & trust.” Look how much even President Obama achieved with the most insanely obstructionist Congress in history. Don’t automatically assume a President Sanders would never be able to enact any of his Progressive priorities.

President Obama has been immensely successful, rescuing the economy following Bush’s near economic collapse, but he has still been obstructed from doing many needed serious reforms, and has disappointed many Liberals (myself included) for not having taken more action on Climate Change (dramatically increasing domestic drilling, even in the fragile Arctic), supporting the TPP, and failing to imprison even ONE banker following the collapse of Wall Street. The Big Banks are bigger today than they were eight years ago (and there are fewer of them, meaning more consolidation/power). These systemic problems still exist. Electing Hillary to “continue the Obama legacy” means continuing the status quo. What law is there against striving for better than the status quo?

Fox “news” Sunday blasted Clinton for the second week in a row: “Not only is she the only candidate left who has refused to appear on our program, but her staff won’t even return our calls”, noting that during the pre-Iowa debate she said she was willing to “go anywhere anytime to find common ground.” The fact is Clinton HAS appeared on Fox… TWICEto bash Barack Obama, once as a candidate and once as president. If you deplore the “gridlock” of the last seven years, this is not a person who will be able to bring the Parties together and unite the country. As a long-time Independent with no baggage, Bernie can.
 

“Scandal-free”, not beholden to ANY “special interest”, a historic election of potentially GLOBAL consequence, and rated the “most trustworthy” of any candidate of either party:
 

YouGov Feb. 15 poll: Bernie most “honest & trustworthy” of ANY candidate. Hillary, the least:
Bernie most honest. Hillary least.

 

(An ABC/WaPo poll shows Sanders with a double-digit lead over Clinton in “honesty & trustworthiness”. Even Clinton herself acknowledges she has a problem on this issue.) Who do you think “Occupy Wall Street” supporters are behind? Hillary or Sanders? If Sanders were not on the right side of history, the Hillary campaign could just ignore him and claim the coveted “Middle Ground”. Bernie has made Hillary a better candidate. He has pulled her to the Left. She is not pulling him to the Right. Instead, both are arguing over who’s the bigger Liberal. Think about that.
 

Madison, WI
10K show up for Sanders in Madison

Birmingham, AL
7K in Birmingham

Los Angeles, CA
Sanders, LA, August 2015

Portland, OR
Bernie crowd in Portland, OR


 


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February 22, 2016 · Admin Mugsy · 2 Comments - Add
Posted in: Civil Rights, Crime, Economy, Election, Money, myth busting, Politics, Seems Obvious to Me

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