Is Bernie Sanders of Vermont or Bethlehem?
When Vermont senator Bernie Sanders is criticized, his followers attack as if some divine power they worship was insulted. Is his record off the table? Is he exempt from any and all questions of his past? Is he not a PUBLIC official? It is our responsibility to remain informed, in order to properly vet the viability of every individual who seeks the highest public office. There are no passes for ideological purity.
There is a large faction of Sanders supporters who are growing increasingly more rabid as the nomination process inches towards its final contests. Yes, the stakes are high, and yes this election is the most consequential election in modern history. But those two facts are reasons that campaign surrogates should offer intelligent defenses rather than personal attacks that question the motives of anyone who objects to campaign tactics.
Tactically speaking I have made no secret of my disappointment with Sanders’ campaign sowing seeds of distrust. In my estimation he is better than the vitriolic rhetoric his campaign disseminates. Moreover, as an objective observer of this nomination competition, it appears that the vindictive nature of Sanders’ relentless attacks of Hillary Clinton do more harm than good. But that harm is damaging the Democratic Party. In nine short months Sanders has fractured the Democratic Party more than any republican candidate ever could. His message to distrust Clinton and Obama has had a real effect on the psyche of young, impressionable would-be Democratic voters.
Folks should be able to ask about Sanders’ history of voting against Gun Safety, without being ridiculed as acting on behalf of some foreign special interest. We’re better that that! We should be able to criticize his anti-immigrant voting record without being falsely labeled as a shill for the Clinton campaign. We’re better than that! We should be able to acknowledge that his plan to make college FREE seems beyond unreasonable, without being branded as corrupt or mistakenly having our motives discounted. We are better than that! We should be comfortable highlighting his communist past, or lack of accomplishment in the Senate, or inability to court black voters, or his hypocritical acceptance of over $300,000 in campaign contributions from defense contractors, or his plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act — the hallmark of President Obama’s presidency.
We. Are. Better. Than. That.
There should not be such a dramatic dichotomy of reaction to criticism. In these situations, more extreme Sanders supporters live up to their informal moniker as ‘Bernie Bots’ (a reference to their robotic-like repetition of Sanders-isms. Contrarily, when Mason Report™ is critical of Clinton her supporters are seldom, if ever, combative and reluctant to demean Sanders in efforts to dismiss or coverup her failings. The two camps are polar opposites in the area of criticism response.
Replying to criticisms of Sanders by infusing reasons to distrust Clinton is an embarrassing, juvenile impulse. Bernie Sanders has a wonderful message and is a great candidate, but he is neither a perfect candidate nor a perfect being. Stop treating your defenses of him as a heretical attack against your god.