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Is America Bern-ing?


Is America Bern-ing?

Sally Kohn

Recently, I was in Des Moines, Iowa, for a meeting of the populist farmers organization Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. I was there to help the group celebrate its 40th anniversary and to talk about the issues it works on, including environmental regulation, farm policy and immigration reform.

But all the members wanted to talk about was Bernie Sanders.


"Still, he's done more than simply move Hillary Clinton to the left, which was the original conventional wisdom about his candidacy."

Sen. Sanders clearly stated from the get go that he would not run unless he believed he could win. Owing to his historical consistency of message, I believed him then and I believe him now. The above narrative is lame and should be retired.


Ms. Kohn recognizes that while Sanders may be well known in progressive circles that he is not so well known elsewhere. Kohn notes that Hillary is very well known (and I might add, has the money to prove it). Articles like these are most welcomed by working people and the 1% because Sanders needs supporters to spread the word and for reporters to talk about how he differs from Hillary.

Ms. Kohn did so in a concise manner that cuts to the chase and in particular makes the point that the 'unfavorables' outweigh the 'favorables' in Hillary's case and there lies a weakness in her well funded campaign. She'd rather people knew less about who she is (preferring to sound like she is a different Hillary than they already knew - the bait and switch). Sanders would rather people learn all about who he is and let them see that he has always been a progressive (while Hillary most certainly hasn't been).


This article is weak, from the notion that Warren articulates economic policy better than Bernie, to the repetition of the boilerplate lie about Bernie's weakness vis a vis structural racism. I said at the time, and I still believe it, the damage that the incidents at NetRoots and Seattle did, by manufacturing a Bernie insensitive to racism, might be a permanent albatross for Bernie, a good man.


Unlike most professional politicians, Mr. Sanders has addressed the issue. Being capable of correcting one's stance--particularly, publicly--is a terrific asset and I disagree about the initial situation being lethal. Of course, Hillary's people will probably try to USE it to that ends.


Yes he has, but like the lawyer in court who blurts out something obviously out of order, and so ruled by the judge, but once uttered before the jury, there is no taking back the hearing of it. I hope you're right.


Also, Ms Kohn, you should notice that a vast area of the world is plunging in strife - with Palestine about to enter a third Intifada as US most-loved ally Israel guns demonstrators down in cold blood. Most of this can be blamed on the US's arrogant foreign policy and full-blown war crimes that remains unexamined much less those responsible prosecuted. Yet there seems to be some kind of bizarre ban on even uttering the words "foreign policy" or "militarism" in any discussion of the Sanders campaign for nomination. Wonder why?


They did not "manufacture a Bernie insensitive to racism". He and many of his followers were insensitive to racism - even using the reductionist "there is no racism, only classism" argument. On that one issue, Hillary was incrementally better - being as she has lived in and represented areas such as Arkansas, New York City where there are many more black USAns. But Sanders has addressed these concerns, and on this issue he is now getting endorsements from black US leaders and scholars and most are considering this issue resolved.


I hope you will join me and support conscription. Until then the public will not elect anyone based on foreign policy issues.


They most certainly did.


"Sanders' persona can be a bit clunky and fuddy-duddy and more importantly, his positions and rhetoric on tackling structural racism and doing something about rampant gun violence are deeply problematic,"

Great article. But this line is wrong. His persona has nothing to do with his job. Judging people by their looks is the basis of racism and other nasty "isms". Bernie's positions on tackling structural racism through the years have proven better than almost all politicians. His approach has been inclusive of all races, religions, genders and more. That he did not single out blacks as the most aggrieved does not make him any less of a defender of their rights than any other aggrieved segment of society. The attack by Black Lives Matter amounted to shooting themselves in the foot. It only served to lower the poll numbers of their staunchest defender.

Gun violence can't be solved by any candidate, even Bernie, with the same solutions offered, if they want to win. The worst things get, the more reticent people seem to get about giving up their guns.

Personally, I would solve gun violence with a bumper sticker:



How the hell are we going to "get our own house in order" until the US stops engaging in these bloody and stupendously expensive and morally revolting sallies out of their own house, and closes its hundreds of economically unsustainable cottages spread all over the globe.

And on the domestic front, how in the world do you think a president - one person - is going to change the relations between the workers and the capitalists for the better? It is up to the workers to organize and engage in strikes and other direct actions. Get off your asses start organizing! Don't expect any person - especially a politician for crying out loud - to lead you to a promised land, becasue as Eugene Debs said, someone else will just lead you right back out!


I see - the "he has to move to the right to be electable" argument. You all said the same stuff about Obama.

And the great crimes of Iraq are completely forgiven, as Obama said: "We have to look forward, not backward" right?


I don't know what you are talking about. My position is not to the right, I've argued on these pages many times over that the only legitimate army is a citizen army. As Senator J. William Fulbright said in The Pentagon Propaganda Machine, a democratic statement, not a conservative point of view:

"There seems to be a lack of concern among too many people about the state of the nation, and a too easy acceptance of policies and actions of a kind that a generation ago would have appalled the citizenry. The apparent broad acceptance of the "volunteer army" idea comes to mind- a concept completely at variance with our historic development. Up to now, a blessing of our system has been that those who go into the military service, whether by enlistment or through the draft, could hardly wait to get out. But today, because of the exigencies of the times, there is a chance that we may turn our back on this fundamental principle: a large, standing professional army has no place in this Republic."

When the citizens are called on, not volunteers, see them scatter, those promoting foreign adventures. Who is forgiving crimes? Not me. And you don't know what I said about Obama, such presumption!


Say what? Sanders responded to Black Lives Matter and has been speaking out about structural racism clearly and there is nothing problematic about it. He has been as much against gun violence and for background checks as any one else. This is just Clinton campaign talking points.


Because the entire election at the presidential two main parties level is all about ignoring the dangers of the American Imperial Project. There's little difference between the two parties on all this- basically its a debate on the level of "The U.S. should beat those guys up and do so with our troops wearing jack boots and marching in goose step" versus "no, the U.S. should not have out troops wear jack boots or march in goose step."

Sanders is plugging into this zeitgeist of not debating the roots of our foreign policy and focusing on domestic issues. Is he doing this because he's really not challenging it, only wanting to pursue it in a gentler and kinder way (which I've asserted) or is he doing this because he's speaking to the domestic issues that he knows will resonate with a fed up public and doing as Endgame suggest, working to 'get our own house in order' first then later addressing international issues 'full bore'? I don't think it really matters. What matters is the entire 2016 election seems to be pre-ordained to debate on foreign policy only between militarism versus more militarism.


Nonsense. It did the exact opposite. It raised Sanders' consciousness that he needed to improve his current addressing of structural racism, which he did, which improved his standings in the polls. There is no evidence what-so-ever that BLM's actions hurt him in the polls.


BLM's stunt lowered his standing in the polls with blacks at first. But putting the issue out there and Bernie's doubling down on it seems to have piqued black interest in learning about him. I agree that the overall effects of the stunt may have turned out to be a positive in the long run.


The author may be for a more radical gun control type than Bernie, but that's also what's bringing IN many republicans and those who support the second amendment such as myself.
I am swallowing hard to vote for Bernie because I do not believe in gun control. And enforcement of existing laws along with a 30 day restriction on publishing the names of mass shooters would do far more good than trashing our rights.
But Bernie is pragmatic about the issue so I will support him.
Maybe we all have to give up our perfect ideal of a candidate in order to get someone who can actually keep the important issues moving through congress.
In the end the only support hillary will have is the radical gun nuts and those who are voting for her sex rather than the issues.


The public can be easily influenced. All you have to do give them hope for a better life and future that is far more economically just that we are experiencing today.

I don't want to take anything away from Senator Sanders' message or what he has accomplished to-date. The grassroots support he has amassed is nothing short of miraculous.

That being said, how does he plan on paying for his social agenda? Let's be honest, he is talking about massive changes that will require hundreds of billions of dollars to fund the much-needed social policies he advocates ... and that we direly need.

Without dramatically reducing the defense budget at an absolute minimum of 50%, there is no way in hell of ever coming even close to being able to fund the domestic social policies we need so badly. The money to fund these policies cannot be "wished" into existence.

Senator Sanders hasn't voiced his intent (especially since he is running under the banner of the Democratic Party) to reduce the funding of the MIC to any level close to this. The only political parties advocating this depth of reduction in the defense budget are two parties who have no chance at all in winning a presidential election at this point in time ... the Green Party and the Socialist Party - USA.

Hence, his passionate fervor is quite simply ... populist campaign rhetoric.

For the record, I do not believe this is his intent. However, I also believe he is unwilling to do what it will take to deliver his social platform to the populace placing their trust in him ... face the MIC in the face and work tirelessly fighting Congress to gut their budget.