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Bernie Sanders on American Democracy

Saturday, March 11, 2017 9:27
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(Before It's News)

Eric Zuesse

On March 10th, Bernie Sanders was interviewed by Britain’s Guardian, headlining “Sanders on Trump and the challenge for the left”, and he said (and this is just a small sampling):

The bad news, the very bad news is that we have a president who is a pathological liar. I say that not in a partisan way because I have many conservative friends who I disagree with on every issue who are not liars, they believe what they believe. But Trump lies all of the time and I think that is not an accident, there is a reason for that.

He lies in order to undermine the foundations of American democracy. One of the concerns that I have is … his efforts to undermine American democracy in the sense of making wild attacks against the media, that virtually everything that mainstream media says is a lie. And we have reached the stage where a United States congressman named Lamar Smith from Texas – and I’m paraphrasing him but you can look up the quote – said ‘Well, if you want to know the truth the only way you can really get the truth in America is directly from the president.’ …

So what you have is a president who says that what you read and see is fraudulent, that judges are not real judges if they offer an opinion different than him, and that elections are not based on real vote counts but are also fraudulent. You have all that and more going on, which leads to only one conclusion: and that is that the only person in America who stands for the American people, the only person in America who is telling the truth, the only person in America who gets it right is the President of the United States, Donald Trump. And that is unprecedented in American history. George Bush was a very conservative president, I opposed him every single day. But George Bush did not operate outside of mainstream American political values….

When the president of the United States says that 3-5 million people voted illegally in the last election, when one of his spokesmen says that busloads of people came from Massachusetts to go into New Hampshire in that election to vote illegally this is 100% totally delusional and lies. But what it does do, and it’s important to understand what his goal is, it sends a message to Republican reactionary governors around the country to go forward and expand their efforts to suppress the vote.  …

We know to be a fact … that Russia played a very heavy role in attempting – successfully, I think – to impact our election. That is unacceptable. The evidence is that they have done it before and they will do it again. For all democracies around the world it is not acceptable that democratic institutions are being undermined by an authoritarian government and we ought to figure out how we deal with that – how we protect our democracies and at the same time make certain that Russia stop doing what it is doing. It is absolutely unacceptable. I think probably Obama was not as strong as he should have been in getting that message out to Putin.

So that’s Number One: There’s no question but they did do that. They had many many, hundreds and hundreds of paid employees. What the exact mechanism is, who paid them may not be clear, but there were people working with the approval of the Russian government trying to undermine American democracy.

Number Two: What we don’t know and what absolutely needs to be investigated is whether or not there was direct collusion between the Trump campaign and these Russians.

Number Three: What we need to know is what kind of influence the Russian oligarchy has over Trump. Many people are kind of astounded. Here he is seemingly in strong disagreement with Australia, with Mexico, with long-term allies but he has nothing but positive things to say about Mr Putin who is an authoritarian leader, who is every day undermining democracy in Russia. …

What has happened is that for many people in the Democratic party they said, ‘Well, I believe in women’s rights, I believe in civil rights, I believe in immigration reform, criminal justice reform,’ and that has been the emphasis at the expense of the needs of a shrinking middle class and massive levels of income and wealth inequality. The truth is we can and should do both, it’s not an either/or, it is both. …

The proof (to answer “Has the Democratic party done enough to search its soul about why Clinton lost, and what to do about it?”) will be in the pudding, according to how Tom Perez [the newly elected chair of the DNC] and how he ends up leading the party. I supported Keith Ellison for that role because Keith is in his heart of hearts a grassroots organizer who believes in grassroots politics. He believes in the need as I do to fundamentally transform the Democratic party from a top-down party to a bottom-up party. Tom Perez said during his campaign to become chair that he agreed with Keith that there was no space between them in that view. But the proof will be in the pudding in the direction that Tom takes the Democratic party. …

Keith Ellison did lose the effort to become chair, but running within the heart of the Democratic establishment. If this had been an election where Democrats all over this country could have voted, Keith would have won by a landslide. Keith had some 700,000 signatures on a petition supporting him to become chair of the DNC. This was an election that took place among 450 Democratic insiders and Keith almost won that. …

I endorse Tulsi Gabbard for the U.S. Presidency in 2020, regardless of her Party, and have explained why, on January 31st, under the headline “The U.S. Politician Who Could Become Second Abraham Lincoln”. The neoconservative The Atlantic had headlined twelve days earlier, “The GOP’s Favorite Democrat Goes to Syria”, but I have never been a Republican and never would be (for some of the same reasons that Sanders himself routinely states), and Tulsi Gabbard gave the unenthusiastic nominating speech for Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention and clearly never would be a Republican, either (regardless of what neoconservatives might allege about her). The real question is not whether she is a Republican, but whether anyone, regardless of how good, can any longer reverse America’s deeper and deeper slide into dictatorship, which has been happening for a long time now. Someone is needed to fill a particular function, which requires enormous courage. In 1860 Lincoln did it. Maybe in 2020 Gabbard will. I can’t think of anyone else who might be able and willing to do that kind of job, which now is tragically needed, yet again. And Sanders’s blaming Putin is a cheap shot, which steeply lowers my opinion of Sanders, in any case. He lacks the courage that Gabbard has; and it’s going to be necessary, in order to be able to do what must be done.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Bernie Sanders on American Democracy was originally published on Washington's Blog


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