Why I’m Not “Feelin’ the Bern”


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If you’ve paid any attention to politics lately, you’ve probably heard of Bernie Sanders. He’s been leading quite the campaign, drawing massive crowds around the country, recently securing the Maine Caucuses. To many, Bernie is the fringe, radical, anti-establishment candidate that we’ve all been waiting for. He is the lord and saviour of the working class, here to abolish capitalism and de-throne god! Okay, I may have exaggerated just a bit with that last part. Still, there’s no question that Bernie is gaining support of not only your average Democrat voter, but also that of the radical wing of the American political spectrum. Could it be the fact that he is a self-professed ‘socialist’ that is appealing to the radical youth of America? (While I would like to add that this assertion is most certainly up for serious debate considering his Keynesian quasi-capitalist liberal policies, and the fact that you essentially cannot be president of the United States without being subservient to bankers, that is another discussion for another time. In this article I would like to only stick to issues which the average voter may concern themselves with.) If I told you that Bernie Sanders is not half the radical humanitarian social revolutionary you believe him to be, how would you react?  Would you be willing to hear what I have to say, and understand my point of view? Or would you simply write me off as a naive, utopian purist with unrealistic expectations for politicians? Whether you agree with me or not, please at least take the time to read the rest of this article, and come to grips with the reality of the situation we find ourselves in. So, without further adieu, here are just a few reasons why I’m not “Feelin’ the Bern.”

1. GAY RIGHTS

Bernie Sanders likes to boast that he is a longtime proponent of marriage equality. When asked about his personal “evolution” on social views, Sanders answered New York Times Columnist Gail Collins by saying, “I’m not evolving when it comes to Gay Rights. I was there!” Some media outlets have frequently referred to Bernie as a “pioneer” for marriage equality, this hot button issue clearly being exploited in Bernie’s favor in light of Hillary Clinton’s less than satisfactory track record on social issues. Would you be surprised to find out that Bernie Sanders has not always been the crusader for equality that he claims to be? 25 years ago, Sanders told author W.J. Conroy that LGBT rights were “not a major priority for him.” When asked if he would support a bill that would protect gays from job discrimination, he replied, “Probably not.”  Now, I will give credit where credit is due. Bernie Sanders DID oppose the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) in 1996, which barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage. This is something which Sanders often brings up in his campaign as alleged proof of his consistent, uncompromising social views.  However, during the time of his decision, Sanders claimed his actions were purely out of concern for “state’s rights” NOT equality, noting that “DOMA violated the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause by allowing one state to refuse to recognize a same-sex marriage performed in another.” 10 years later, in 2006, Sanders voted against legislation which would have legalized same-sex marriage in his home-town of Vermont, defending his actions by stating that he would be more “comfortable” with the idea of ‘civil unions’ rather than full-fledged marriage equality. Coincidentally, his Republican rival for the Senate seat, Richard Tarrant, was also a supporter of ‘civil unions.’ Now, none of this is to say that Bernie Sanders is not genuine in his current support of marriage equality, but when you compare his bold claim to fame as a ‘pioneer’ of gay rights with the reality of his track record, it leaves much to be desired.

2. NATO BOMBING OF YUGOSLAVIA

During the Kosovo war of 1999, a military operation was launched by NATO against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Serbian people, which involved airstrikes lasting from March 24, 1999 to June 10 1999. This military aggression was authorized by then commander-in-chief Bill Clinton, and supported by, wouldn’t you know it, our old pal Bernie. This bombing campaign led to the massacre of between 489 and 528 civilians, it devastated communities, destroying infrastructure, bridges, public buildings, industrial plants, private businesses and more. Bernie’s support for these hawkish attacks even caused one of his staffers, Jeremy Brecher, to resign. Read his letter of resignation here. And to top it all off, when antiwar activists occupied Bernie’s office in response to this, he had them all arrested.

3. WESTERN-BACKED COUP IN UKRAINE

Beginning in 2013, the country of Ukraine was being gradually destabilized, as massive pressure was being put on the current regime to join the EU. In 2014, this escalated to a full-fledged coup d’etat. You might have heard of it. According to the Western media, this conflict consisted only of “peaceful activists who wanted to join the EU.” However, it has come to light that many militant groups fighting for control over the region were Neo-Nazi organizations, fascist groups who were directly backed and funded by the U.S./NATO and the EU. These groups have committed countless war crimes and atrocities upon innocent civilians, most of whom are of Russian identity. On February 20th of 2013, video footage was leaked of snipers firing upon protesters in Kiev, Ukraine. Twenty people were murdered, and the Western media immediately jumped to the conclusion that President Yanukovich and his supporters were behind the attacks. However, surprise surprise, the Western media was wrong, again.  A phone conversation between Estonia’s foreign minister Urmas Paet and EU foreign policy chief Cathy Ashton, leaked to the public on March 5th, reveals that the snipers were actually from the new coalition government, a.k.a one of the proto-fascist regimes we armed and funded. This indicates that Western diplomats knew about this, and covered it up. (This is strangely reminiscent of the crisis in Syria and the chemical weapons attacks which the President and Western media claimed was committed  by the Assad regime, but were actually committed by the Syrian militants that we armed and funded, no?) Well, I’ll bet you’re wondering what any of this has to do with Bernie Sanders. I’ll tell you. In 2014, Bernie Sanders voted in favor  of a $1 billion aid package for the new coalition government. This means that Sanders voted in favor of a bill that provided $1 billion for fascist war criminals. I think that’s minus one more for social issues.

 4ISRAEL AND PALESTINE

Bernie Sanders has always tried his best to avoid talking about the issue of Israel and Palestine. Could this be largely because he knows that speaking out about Israel is essentially political suicide in today’s election arena? Possibly. But it doesn’t help much that he supported the colonization of Palestine in the first place, or that he has failed to condemn and has even gone so far as to defend Israel’s most recent assault on Gaza. When confronted with the issue in a town hall meeting, Sanders admitted that Israel may have “over-reacted” during the conflict, but went on to essentially blame Hamas for the entire thing, and then, after silencing dissenters and telling them to “shut up,” he derailed the conversation by trailing off onto the topic of ISIS. Not only that, but Sander’s foreign policy would include increasing military funding to Israel as well as Saudi Arabia, two of the most corrupt and hawkish regimes in the Middle East. This is despite Israel’s colonization, occupation and brutalization of Palestine, Israel’s policy of apartheid, or Saudi Arabia’s recent bombing campaign against Yemen, which has led to the deaths of well over 1,000 Yemeni children. Not to mention the Saudi regime’s tyrannical domestic policy, which includes the beheading of atheists and homosexuals. Minus one more point for gay rights. Additionally,  Bernie Sanders recently suspended one of his staffers, Simone Zimmerman, for expressing hostility towards Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu one year prior to this, at the height of the violence during the assault on Gaza.

5. OBAMA’S MILITARY AGGRESSION AND THE DRONE PROGRAM

Over the past 8 years, President Obama’s drone program has caused scores of civilian casualties, devastating communities in Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and even Somalia.  A recent study found that nearly 90% of people killed in recent drone strikes were not the intended target. I don’t think I have to tell you how abhorrent and detestable this dangerous addition to the War on Terror is, or why any self-professed anti-war humanitarian should actively oppose it without compromise. Well, I hate to break it to you, but Bernie Sanders recently admitted that he would not end the drone program. He went on to say that he intends to use the program very “selectively and effectively.” (Like we haven’t heard that one before.)

During a town hall meeting on April 25th, 2016, Sanders was asked questions regarding Obama’s ‘kill list,’ which is a classified list of “suspected terrorists” that are targeted and assassinated by armed drones without a trial or due process, the following is what Sanders had to say on the matter,

“Look. Terrorism is a very serious issue. There are people out there who want to kill Americans, who want to attack this country, and I think we have a lot of right to defend ourselves.”

Sanders was also asked about Obama’s intervention in Syria, specifically regarding the arming and funding of the Syrian rebels (who have been proven time and time again to have explicit ties to ISIS.) When questioned about this topic, Sanders responded with the statement below.

“I think the—look. Here’s the bottom line. ISIS has got to be destroyed, and the way that ISIS must be destroyed is not through American troops fighting on the ground. ISIS must be destroyed and King Abdullah of Jordan has made this clear, that the war is for the soul of Islam and it must be won by the Muslim nations themselves.

I think what the President is talking about is having American troops training Muslim troops, helping to supply the military equipment they need, and I do support that effort. We need a broad coalition of Muslim troops on the ground. We have had some success in the last year or so putting ISIS on the defensive, we’ve got to continue that effort.”

– Bernie Sanders, MSNBC Town Hall Meeting

Excuse me for being skeptical, but the last Democrat who entered office campaigned on an anti-war platform, promising to bring the troops home and immediately end all U.S. military aggression overseas, and he ended up bombing more countries than Bush. This, in a way, confirmed looming suspicions that the military industrial complex will never be challenged, no matter who takes office.

So, there you have it, folks. Bernie Sanders is far from the perfect humanitarian social revolutionary everyone believes him to be. If you wish to go on voting for the lesser of two evils, well I suppose that there is nothing I can do to stop you. Just realize that if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal. For decades the public has been trapped in this two party system, not seeming to be able to even fathom any alternative. In this way, the establishment has secured their own victory. So long as we see no other options but to continue the status quo, they’ve got us right where they want us. I hope you found this article informative, even if you disagree with it, and that you now understand  at least a little better why I, as an activist for peace, do not feel obliged to “Feel the Bern.”

Brian Hazel

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Why I’m Not “Feelin’ the Bern”

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