I HAVE lived and been an activist in Vermont for the past 30 years, during which time I closely followed Bernie Sanders’ political career that has led him from Burlington mayor to U.S. congressman to U.S. senator to presidential candidate.
Over those years, I have had a number of direct encounters with him. I can tell you from my experience that Bernie is (1) a very rude human being (which makes it hard to understand how he has been a successful politician) and (2) has never been part of the social-change movements here in Vermont, and has often been at odds with us, particularly when it concerned wars and other international issues–most recently, the savage Israeli attack on Gaza.
My first experience with Bernie came shortly after he was elected mayor, and I moved to Burlington partly on that basis. It came while I was participating in a Central American solidarity action at a General Electric Gatling Gun factory in the early 1980s in support of peasants in El Salvador and Nicaragua against whom the machine guns mounted on helicopters were being used.
One would have expected, and I certainly did at the time, that Bernie–back then, much more of an “avowed socialist” than he is today–would have supported our civil disobedience protests to rid the “Peoples Republic of Burlington” from this odious human rights blot. Burlington had a sister city in Nicaragua.
But Bernie did not. Instead, I vividly remember Bernie standing arms-folded alongside the right-wing union officials from the factory and the Burlington Police Department as we were being arrested. He falsely insinuated that we were “anti-worker,” and he refused to have any serious political dialogue with us activists. Bernie next made cozy with the cops and their union, who endorsed him in his future mayoral elections.
To my knowledge, Bernie has never spoken out against U.S. imperialism, calling it for what it is–namely, the foundation of upper-class profits and middle-class privileges in the belly of the beast. Down through the years as a politician, he has waffled at best on opposing U.S. wars against the developing world and other people who are deviating from what our rulers want. To his credit, Bernie did vote against the Iraq wars (though this was not a particularly courageous stand to take given how many other members of Congress did the same), but he has not consistently voted against the military funding legislation that made these wars possible.
Moreover, back in 1999, he was an enthusiastic supporter of Bill Clinton’s bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. At that time, I was a member of a group of angry and upset peace activists, including Dave Dellinger, who held a sit-in at Bernie’s Burlington office and were arrested after Bernie refused to speak with us. At that same time, one of Bernie’s Washington staff, the labor historian and activist Jeremy Brecher, wrote a stinging open letter explaining why he could not continue to work for and represent a politician who would take that kind of pro-war position.
In the last couple of years, a huge battle has taken place in Burlington and surrounding towns over the Pentagon’s plan to station the new F-35 warplane boondoggle at the Burlington Airport. A large and diverse movement came together to oppose it, based on everything from the noise level for those who have to live under its takeoff to its contribution to militarism and global warming. Did Bernie stand with the people’s movement? No, he has supported the F-35 to the hilt, standing instead with the area’s military types.
Last fall, when members of Code Pink and Occupy confronted him about his failure to oppose Israel’s attack on the Gaza civilian population, Bernie took an evasive liberal position, criticizing the Palestinians who were resisting as much or more than the Zionists. He then called the police on us.
Yes, I will freely admit that Bernie can talk a good talk about economic inequities and the need to redress them. He’s definitely on the mark there. An Occupier can agree. While never much of an environmentalist, he has even added a bit about global warming to the end of his standard populist stump speech. (When I knew him as Burlington’s mayor, he was all in favor of letting developers take over the public lands on Burlington waterfront–which fortunately was stopped due to actions by Green activists with whom he could never get along.) However, is that enough?
In my view, we need to be clear–especially if we are socialists–about the strong linkages between what capitalism does overseas and here at home, and we need to stand firmly in solidarity with all of those people who are opposing U.S. imperialism and call for no more military spending that is being used to kill and repress them. I will certainly not waste my vote on a politician who does not take that stand.
As importantly, we need to be building revolutionary movements to take power away from the ruling class, not campaigning for politicians who invariably let us down with their promises of reforms.
Jay Moore, Marshfield, Vermont
We have a better choice:
Published on Wednesday, June 24, 2015
by Common Dreams
Under Green Party Banner, Jill Stein Officially Sets Sights on 2016
Power to the People Plan ‘would end unemployment and poverty; avert climate catastrophe; build a sustainable, just economy; and recognize the dignity and human rights of everyone in our society’
Jill Stein at an Occupy Wall Street demonstration in 2012. (Photo: Paul Stein/flickr/cc)
Vowing to combat the “converging crises” of racism, militarism, climate change, and “extreme materialism,” Dr. Jill Stein on Tuesday announced this week that she is running for president of the United States as a Green Party candidate.
In a campaign kick-off speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Stein laid out the major planks of her platform, excerpted below:
Our Power to the People Plan lays out these solutions in a blueprint to move our economy from the greed and exploitation of corporate capitalism to a human-centered system that puts people, planet and peace over profit. This plan would end unemployment and poverty; avert climate catastrophe; build a sustainable, just economy; and recognize the dignity and human rights of everyone in our society. The plan affirms that we have the power to take our future back:
We have the power to create a Green New Deal, providing millions of jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030.
We have the power to provide to a living-wage job and workers rights for every American.
We have the power to end poverty and guarantee economic human rights.
We have the power to make health-care a human right through an improved Medicare for All system.
We have the power to provide education as a right and abolish student debt.
We have the power to create a just economy.
We have the power to protect Mother Earth.
We have the power to end institutional racism, police brutality and mass incarceration.
We have the power to restore our Constitutional rights.
We have the power to end our wars of aggression, close foreign bases and cut military expenditures 50%
We have the power to empower the people.
…Speaking of her economic priorities, Stein told Democracy Now‘s Goodman: “We are very focused on reforming the financial system, not only breaking up the big banks, but actually establishing public banks at the community, state and national level, so that we actually can democratize our finance. We can nationalize the Fed and ensure that it’s running for public purpose and not simply for private profit.”
… Stein’s official entry into the 2016 presidential race coincides with the filing of a lawsuit against the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) on Monday. That lawsuit, brought by the advocacy group Level the Playing Field and the Green and Libertarian parties, seeks to expand the 2016 general-election presidential debates to independent and third-party candidates.
Stein—who was arrested, along with vice presidential candidate Cheri Honkala, trying to enter a presidential debate sponsored by the CPD in the fall of 2012—was reportedly “deeply involved in negotiations with Level the Playing Field to have the Green Party join as co-plaintiff in this suit.”
I agree with everything you say Peaceresource. Ralph Nader, Chris Hedges and more recently Jesse Ventura all confirm what you say. People are not objective when they get into the cult of personality.
the twisting of information as is done here sure makes this page more like a Clinton front 😉
There is nothing twisted here. These are simple facts. Clinton, Trump and Sanders are pro war. They endorse wars for profit: dozens of simultaneous wars costing trillions and killing millions for billionaires. If you want this, vote for Trump or Clinton. But there will be a third candidate on 85-100% of the ballots. Her name is Jill Stein. She has the cure: shut down the wars, rebuild the nation and create a peaceful and more prosperous future for our children with the Green New Deal. https://thepeaceresource.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/power-to-the-people-a-green-new-deal/
Voting for funding for the troops is not really the same as supporting the war. Troops are over there and need funding so they have the tools they need to survive. The war itself sucks, but our troops should not lose support simply because we oppose a war we could not stop from happening.
The other choice is to stop it from happening and invest those trillions in infrastructure and human services.
Eight more years of war is not an option. Our increasing and wide-ranging aggression against smaller and less powerful nations and funding of both sides of proxy wars to sell munitions… cannot be sustained. This is a non-partisan issue. When a Democrat or a Republican runs the show we go to war. Jill will shut em down and rebuild the nation. Simple common sense and a brilliant woman to lead us there.
According to Stein’s statement, if Israel continues to engage in aggression against the Palestinians, they will no longer be allowed to purchase arms from us and their aid packages will end. Saudi Arabia will also be cut off. This is revolutionary change from war to peace. Arms embargo for hostile agents while we rebuild the nation and restore human services and civil liberties. https://thepeaceresource.wordpress.com/2015/08/29/dr-jill-stein-on-israel-palestine-and-the-middle-east/
Sanders voted against authorizing the use of using military force in Somalia in 1993.
Sanders may have voted against one war 22 years ago, but during the past ten years he voted to support all 27 wars of choice, even when he knew they would cost trillions of dollars and millions of lives. We cannot afford mistakes like this. Bernie may have once been a socialist, but now he is a card-carrying member of the Democratic war machine.
He voted against a lot more than 1 war and the U.S. hasn’t started 27 wars since he went to Congress. Furthermore, why are you linking the post in your comment that I’m commenting? lmao
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