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- What Kind of Socialism Will We Have? Wednesday, 8 April, 2020
- The Speech Bernie Needs to Give – NOW Friday, 13 March, 2020
- Anti-Bernie Smear #28: “Bernie Will Hurt Democrats Running Down Ballot” Tuesday, 25 February, 2020
- Anti-Bernie Smear #25: “Bernie wants to let prisoners vote – even the Boston Bomber!” Monday, 3 February, 2020
- Anti-Bernie Smear #26: “Bernie is like Trump and/or his supporters are just like Trump’s” Sunday, 2 February, 2020
- Anti-Bernie Smear #27: “Bernie is a Communist, He Honeymooned in the USSR!” Sunday, 2 February, 2020
- Forget “Bernie Or Bust” – When it Comes to Climate Change, it’s “Bernie Or BURN” Friday, 31 January, 2020
- Anti-Bernie Smear #24: “Bernie is too far Left; he can’t win the general election – he will be another McGovern” Thursday, 23 January, 2020
- Anti-Bernie Smear #23: “Bernie has never been vetted, he’s been given a pass …etc.” Sunday, 12 January, 2020
- Anti-Bernie Smear #17: “Bernie is not a Democrat!” Thursday, 9 January, 2020
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This is a handy guide to beating back the ridiculous and vile smears that are being leveled at Bernie Sanders, and in particular those that may compare him to Joe Biden.
*UPDATED: February 25, 2020
We are all socialists now
There have been several articles recently all expressing the sentiment, in one form or another, that with the COVID crisis, “we are all socialists now.” Suddenly Reagan’s quip about the government not being the solution to the problem but rather being the problem itself, seems remarkably naive and out of place. Everyone from bank moguls to CEOs to construction laborers to myriad small business owners are rushing to the bosom of the Government seeking life-saving assistance in the face of an unprecedented disaster.
The Democrats get outflanked on the Left
But there is another even more curious development, and one that Bob and I have both foretold: Trump is maneuvering to the Left of Biden and the Democrats now in terms of government activism. His recent willingness to contemplate at least a temporary “Medicare for All” solution to the COVID challenges is making Biden and the Democrats’ call to reopen the Obamacare Exchanges look like the weakest of tea – especially as more and more people are losing the jobs they will need to pay for their ACA premiums.
And it’s not just Trump. Mitt Romney made a huge splash when he called for simply sending out checks to everyone while Pelosi was moaning about moral hazard and wanting to means test the hell out of everything. Right-leaning populists like Justin Amash and Josh Hawley are way out in front of the dithering Democrats in terms of calling for speedy and direct government intervention to help working people.
Yes, but what kind of Socialism?
So it seems that we are heading for some kind of socialism, but the question is: what kind of socialism will we have?
Will it be Bernie’s “Democratic” Socialism, which seeks to heal the world, unite all workers everywhere and build solidarity based on class and station, portraying the international elites and billionaires as the enemy of workers?
Or will it be Trump’s (and Bannon’s) “National” Socialism, which seeks to Make America Great Again, put America First and build solidarity based on national origin, race and religion, portraying immigrants and foreigners as the enemy of the American worker?
History is rhyming
Many are already saying that the economic earthquake we are facing will be on a par with that of the Great Depression of the 1930’s. And we are already seeing the battle lines being drawn between the Democratic Socialists and the National Socialists, similarly to what happened in Weimar Germany. The Reds were fighting the Brownshirts in the streets – similar to today’s MAGA crowds facing off against Antifa.
The original name of the German Nazi party was the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). The Nazis promoted a type of socialism but only for German workers. Jews, immigrants and foreigners were not welcome. Under Trump I can definitely see a similar type of National Socialist American Workers movement (if not an actual Party) spring up to defend “American” workers, with Muslims, immigrants and foreigners not welcome.
A taste of what is to come?
You may think that all this talk about Democratic Socialism versus National Socialism is far-fetched. Well, one of the Right’s most cherished attack lines against the Sanders Medicare For All plan is that it would also cover “every man, woman and child” in the US – including “undocumented” workers and immigrants. Facing a 60% overall favorability rating for M4A, with even a 53% approval rating among working class Republicans, Bannon and Miller’s propaganda machine had to find a wedge issue, something to force a crack in that massive majoritarian support, and the provision for immigrants fit their needs perfectly.
The argument goes along the lines of: “OK, OK, I can possibly see adopting a universal single payer health insurance system, but certainly NEVER when it also covers “Non-Americans”.
There you have it, in a microcosm: Democratic Socialism versus National Socialism. Let’s hope that this time the good guys win.
In order to win, Bernie does not need to “go negative’. He does not need to attack the Billionaire Class. He does not need to rail against The Establishment.
He does not even need to promise Revolution or delineate his policies. He has already won the policy debate by massive margins.
He simply needs to jog people’s memories.
I do not know whether the upcoming debate will be the best venue for this speech, but the following is the argument that Bernie needs to make in order to succeed.
So read this and imagine a thick Brooklyn accent if you want. Enjoy!
My friends, as I mentioned in my press conference last week, we know that while the vast majority of Democratic voters support our campaign on the issues, many of you are still choosing to vote for my opponent because you think he is best able to beat Trump. While you may personally support our policies on Medicare For All, Free Public College and the Green New Deal, you may want to vote for Joe Biden because you consider him to be the “safe” choice to beat Trump in the fall.
And why shouldn’t you think that way? The media is telling you that he is the safe choice. The Democratic establishment is telling you he is the safe choice. In short, everything and everyone you see on TV and in the news are telling you that in this race, ONLY Joe Biden can beat Trump in November.
But – what if they are all wrong?
Looking back on recent history, it seems that whenever we have decided to go with the “safe” candidate, WE LOSE.
In 2000, Al Gore was the safe candidate. Everyone knew him, he had served with a very popular President. He couldn’t lose.
And yet, he did lose.
In 2004, Howard Dean led a movement of young people in the Primaries. He said he represented the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” But the party establishment and the media said he was too radical, that he couldn’t win. They told us John Kerry was the “safe” choice.
And we lost again.
Then, in 2008, we had a situation that was very similar to what we have today. There was one candidate who was the Establishment favorite, who was associated with a very popular Democratic President, who had lots of experience, who had every world leader in a Rolodex, who had been a successful Senator, who ticked every box, who fit the bill. And the media and the party establishment all supported Hillary Clinton.
Running against her was a very unlikely opponent: a black man with a Muslim name: Barack Hussein Obama.
And as if that name was not problematic enough, he was running on a platform of Change. He wanted to put an end to the “stupid” wars, as he called them. He wanted to overhaul the system; he wanted to give everyone the chance to have government paid healthcare. He was running on a strong progressive platform.
Of course, the media and the establishment were all lined up against him. They tried everything to make him look dangerous, to make him look “un-electable.” They bombarded the airwaves, the newspapers and all the other media with pundits, experts and Democrat leaders to tell you that Barack Obama was too dangerous, too radical; that white people would not vote for him; that older people would not vote for him; that the white working class would not vote for him, that those elusive “swing voters” and “moderate voters” would not vote for him.
But you, the Democratic voters, decided to take a chance. You voted the way your own heart and head told you to. The way your gut told you to. You chose Barack Obama to be your champion in the general election, and WE WON.
And we won again in 2012.
You see, when we go safe, we lose. But when we take a chance, when we vote for the policies that we actually want, when we vote the way that our conscience tells us to – THAT is when WE WIN.
Still, you may think, can’t a safe candidate also win?
I don’t think so. AND – we have the proof. We have the experience, the test case to look back on.
Four years ago we had the same choice between a “safe” establishment candidate, whom the Party and the Media supported, and a progressive candidate running on a platform of change. I was that progressive change candidate. The safe candidate was Hillary Clinton, the same “safe” candidate who lost to the progressive in 2008. She was the one that the Party establishment told us was “the most qualified person ever to become President”. She was the one the media, the pollsters and the pundits all said would win in a LANDSLIDE. And so, we chose Hillary Clinton, the safe candidate, the sure thing, to be our nominee.
And we LOST to Donald Trump.
So I am asking you tonight to remember our history. Remember the lessons we learned from electing Barack Obama. Remember that when you ignore the noise and the propaganda from the media, when we vote for the policies that we want, when we vote for the future that we want, WE WIN.
Now that Bernie Sanders is the presumptive nominee, and clearly the people’s choice to head the Democratic ticket in November, the Party Elites and their minions in the media are flailing about in an attempt to find some reason to oppose his nomination and overturn the will of the voters.
The narrative they are pushing, however, is a cynical reversal of their prior positions. It is also precisely wrong, and we have the receipts.
Saying that “Bernie is just a Trump of the Left” is an intellectually lazy way to criticize a candidate. When you cannot fault him on policy or personal grounds, you go after his base of support. Such an attack is as despicable as it is stupid.
Bernie is often attacked for having taken a trip to the USSR in the late 1980’s. This attack is as ancient and outdated as it is erroneous.
People accuse Sanders supporters of being “fanatics” who push “purity tests” and adopt a “holier-than-thou” attitude towards other candidates and their supporters. They are grossly underestimating us. We Berners are on a mission to literally save the world, and in this fight Bernie is not just the best candidate, he is the ONLY candidate.
Anti-Bernie Smear #24: “Bernie is too far Left; he can’t win the general election – he will be another McGovern”
2020 is nothing like 1972 EXCEPT in the way that the Democratic Party elite is trying to sabotage their strongest candidate.
This smear is another one that I would have thought would disappear given all the blatant facts in evidence to the contrary. But no – there are still some people out there claiming that Bernie is popular only because no one has really challenged him, no one has investigated him, no one has really attacked him.
UPDATED: February 3, 2020
Centrist Democrats love to pillory Bernie for not being on their Team. This particular “attack” is so stupid that I resisted writing an answer to it for a long time, thinking that it would go away. Alas, there seems to be mo end to the stupidity of the centrist CorpDems and #StillWithering Hive Queen Holdovers that are still out there. Continue reading
First, let’s be clear: Bernie is no fan of the NRA. Moreover, Bernie is by no means the most pro-gun Democrat out there. Indeed, throughout most of his career, Bernie has had a solid “F” from the NRA.
In addition, Bernie has been endorsed by the March For Our Lives anti-gun violence group that was formed in the wake of the Parkland shootings.
To many people this may seem like an unlikely or even a silly smear, given that Bernie is Jewish, given that he lost his family in the Holocaust, and given that he actually lived and worked on a Kibbutz in Israel. But believe me, this is a serious smear, and the fact that serious people will level this kind of attack says more about the state of discourse surrounding Israel, Judaism and the definition of Antisemitism than it does about Bernie Sanders. Continue reading
Anti-Bernie Smear #4: “Bernie was not an effective legislator and he never accomplished anything in Congress”
This is important, because actual bills passed in the US Congress are NOT progressive themselves.
The screwy accusation of “bank fraud” started by right-wing smear merchants and now pushed by anti-Bernie Democrats and most recently, the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board.
Anti-Bernie Smear #20: “Bernie claims to be socialist and fight climate change, but flies first class on private jets”
This is a corollary of Troll Smear #19 about Bernie’s houses and net worth. This smear also seeks to portray Bernie as a hypocrite, and tries to do so by making the following “arguments”: (1) Bernie claims to fight Climate Change but spent $300,000 on private air travel, polluting the air, and/or (2) Bernie claims to be a socialist but he insists on flying first class on private jets.
Anti-Bernie Smear #19: “Bernie is a hypocrite, he has three houses, a net worth over $2 million, and only pays 13% in taxes”
As with all smears directed at Bernie, this is typical in that it does not attack his policies, but rather seeks to disparage him personally, by saying that he “does not practice what he preaches”. The smear seeks to portray Bernie as someone who is cynically preaching to the working class while he himself is a member of the top 1% that he rails against.