Bernie Sanders

helped Democrats preserve the illusion of competition in 2016

related page: Sanders - Warren unity ticket might overcome corporate & CIA pre-selection


Author and journalist David Talbot has spent years examining and writing about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and its connection to broader US politics. In his conversation with WhoWhatWhy's Jeff Schechtman, he makes the case that the cynicism from decades of lies about JFK, Martin Luther King, Watergate, and many more seminal events in recent US history is to blame in part for the divisions and the distrust of government we are witnessing today. ....

David Talbot: President Eisenhower warned young President Kennedy coming into office and the rest of the nation about the military-industrial complex. I think that military-industrial complex, as I document in my book, took out President Kennedy once he opposed them and tried to limit their power. And ever since then no President has been courageous or brave enough to take on this growing power in our country of militarism and imperialism. It really has, I think, subverted and destroyed our democracy to the point where we can't even think of a national leader. Not even Bernie Sanders in his campaign, which was so thrilling in many ways, but not even he made America's ballooning defense budget, military budget, and militarism and all these overseas engagements, he didn't make that a primary part of his campaign. I think the last person to do that was probably Bobby Kennedy when he challenged the Vietnam War and the rise of militarism in this country when he ran for President in 1968, and he too was assassinated. [emphasis added]

CBS NEWS April 7, 2016

ROSE: Come November 2016, if Hillary Clinton is the nominee you will be supporting her?

SANDERS: Sure, I will. Look, as I said a million times, I think the idea of a Donald Trump or a Ted Cruz presidency would be an unmitigated disaster for this country. I will do everything in my power and work as hard as I can to make sure that that does not happen. And if Secretary Clinton is the nominee, I will certainly support her.

Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders: Sheepdogging for Hillary and the Democrats in 2016

Submitted by Bruce A. Dixon on Wed, 05/06/2015

Vermont senator and ostensible socialist Bernie Sanders is playing the sheepdog candidate for Hillary Clnton this year. Bernie's job is to warm up the crowd for Hillary, herding activist energies and the disaffected left back into the Democratic fold one more time. Bernie aims to tie up activist energies and resources till the summer of 2016 when the only remaining choice will be the usual lesser of two evils.

Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders:
Sheepdogging for Hillary and the Democrats in 2016
By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

"The sheepdog is a card the Democratic party plays every presidential primary season when there's no White House Democrat running for re-election."

Spoiler alert: we have seen the Bernie Sanders show before, and we know exactly how it ends. Bernie has zero likelihood of winning the Democratic nomination for president over Hillary Clinton. Bernie will lose, Hillary will win. When Bernie folds his tent in the summer of 2016, the money, the hopes and prayers, the year of activist zeal that folks put behind Bernie Sanders' either vanishes into thin air, or directly benefits the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Don't believe us? Then believe Bernie himself interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on ABC News “This Week” May 3.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So if you lose in this nomination fight, will you support the Democratic nominee?
SANDERS: Yes. I have in the past.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Not going to run as an independent?
SANDERS: No, absolutely not. I've been very clear about that.

Bernie Sanders is this election's Democratic sheepdog. The sheepdog is a card the Democratic party plays every presidential primary season when there's no White House Democrat running for re-election. The sheepdog is a presidential candidate running ostensibly to the left of the establishment Democrat to whom the billionaires will award the nomination. Sheepdogs are herders, and the sheepdog candidate is charged with herding activists and voters back into the Democratic fold who might otherwise drift leftward and outside of the Democratic party, either staying home or trying to build something outside the two party box.

1984 and 88 the sheepdog candidate was Jesse Jackson. In 92 it was California governor Jerry Brown. In 2000 and 2004 the designated sheepdog was Al Sharpton, and in 2008 it was Dennis Kucinich. This year it's Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. The function of the sheepdog candidate is to give left activists and voters a reason, however illusory, to believe there's a place of influence for them inside the Democratic party, if and only if the eventual Democratic nominee can win in November.

Despite casting millions of voters for the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and other sheepdogs, those leftish Democrat voters are always disregarded when Democrats actually win. Bill Clinton gave us NAFTA, a vicious “welfare reform,” no peace dividend or push for DC statehood, lowered unemployment but mostly in part time and low-wage jobs, and mass incarceration of black and brown people. President Obama doubled down on bailouts of banksters and GM, and immunized them from prosecution but failed to address the most catastrophic fall in black household wealth in history. We got health care for some instead of Medicare for All, the Patriot Act renewed instead of repealed, a race to privatize public education, drone wars and still more mass incarceration of black and brown people. And if President Obama gets his way, we may soon have a global job-destroying wage-lowering NAFTA on steroids, with the TTP and TTIP.

The sheepdog's job is to divert the energy and enthusiasm of activists a year, a year and a half out from a November election away from building an alternative to the Democratic party, and into his doomed effort. When the sheepdog inevitably folds in the late spring or early summer before a November election, there's no time remaining to win ballot access for alternative parties or candidates, no time to raise money or organize any effective challenge to the two capitalist parties.

At that point, with all the alternatives foreclosed, the narrative shifts to the familiar “lesser of two evils.” Every sheepdog candidate surrenders the shreds of his credibility to the Democratic nominee in time for the November election. This is how the Bernie Sanders show ends, as the left-leaning warm-up act for Hillary Clinton. ....


Hillary vs. Bernie

A Vermont socialist's guide to Bernie Sanders

Paul Fleckenstein, a longtime activist and socialist in Vermont, looks behind the image at the real record of the state's most popular politician--and now presidential candidate.

June 11, 2015

AS I stood among the 5,000 people in Burlington, Vermont's waterfront park while Bernie Sanders launched his Democratic presidential primary bid late last month, it was odd to hear the repeated claim that Sanders was responsible for rescuing this very parkland from rapacious developers while he was mayor of Burlington in the 1980s.

Actually, in 1985, Sanders partnered with developers to champion a seven-story hotel and 300 mostly upscale condominiums on the land we were standing on. The city was to get a cut of the profits through a tax increment financing (TIF) district.

Fortunately, activists mobilized an opposition to this giveaway of public land to the wealthy, and the plan was defeated in a citywide referendum. That's why there was a beautiful park to serve as the backdrop for Sanders to launch his campaign.

This story is emblematic of Sanders' political history. While he says many good things that socialists support and that attract support from workers, students and the left, his actual political practice is at odds with his image. Setting aside his self-identification as a "socialist," even his claim to be "independent" is dubious once you know about Sanders' accommodations with business and the wealthy and his ongoing collaboration with the Democratic Party.

In one of its articles on the Sanders campaign, two contributors wrote:

[T]he question for us isn't mostly about the "purity" of Sanders' political positions. The crux of our objection is Sanders' decision to run for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, and to promise in advance that he will endorse the mainstream Democrat who will all but certainly defeat him.

Such critiques of Sanders focus rightly on the role he will play--indeed, which he has promised, in his own words, to play--within the Democratic Party in the coming year: as the liberal "sheep dog...charged with herding activists and voters back into the Democratic fold," as Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report put it. ....

Sanders unconditionally backed the basing of the the boondoggle F-35 bomber at Burlington's airport, despite the devastating effect this will have on surrounding working class communities.

The working class town of Winooski, that sits at the end of the runway, voted by referendum to join a lawsuit against the basing. Despite this and other examples of opposition, Sanders lined up with commercial real estate interests, the military-industrial complex and, of course, Vermont's leading Democrats to back the basing, protecting the state's lucrative pipeline to the Pentagon.

Sanders defenders falsely claim that senator backed the F-35 to protect Air National Guard jobs, but these were never on the line. In reality, Vermont's celebrated "independent" won't buck the state's ruling class when it comes to cutting off a source Pentagon funds, and he won't challenge the U.S. war machine that these bombers will be a part of.

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Climate Change and the Environment

Since the 1990s, Sanders has consistently raised the threat of climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions. In speeches, he talks about the need to transition away from fossil-fuel production to renewable energy sources. Environmental activists look to Sanders as a champion--thus,'s Bill McKibben gave a rousing speech at the Burlington kickoff rally.

But Sanders' championing of the environment seems to only apply on one side of the partisan divide. He relentlessly targets the billionaire Koch brothers, the Republicans and climate-change deniers--but barely mentions the equally culpable role of the Democratic Party.

Bernie Sanders on Lockheed Martin F-35 Jets in Vermont

Senator Bernie Sanders was asked a question about the most expensive weapons system in history and controversial F-35 Fighter Jet, manufactured by Lockheed Martin in his home state of Vermont.

Josh: "...You work on limiting the influence of money in politics, yet at the same time you continue to support wasteful contracts from companies such as Lockheed Martin with the F-35 for instance. So what steps are you willing to take to limit the influence of companies in politics, not only on campaigns, but in policy making as well?”

Senator Sanders: "What part of the F-35? What are my options as a Senator? …if I said no to the F-35 coming to Burlington, for Vermont National Guard where would it go?... South Carolina?

My choice as a Senator, this is not a debate 20 years ago when we saw the F-35, which was very, very costly and is a huge cost overall. It’s the debate that the F-35 is here, it goes to South Carolina, or Florida, or in the state of Vermont. And I wanted it to come to the state of Vermont. Now in terms of the military spending in general, that’s another broader issue. Are we spending too much? Yes, we are. Have there been, more…well back up for a minute…we are spending too much, we should cut it.

The F-35, you have to in politics, it’s not and people do this I don’t mean to be critical, but you gotta look at where somebody is at the moment. If the debate is if somebody comes to you and says “Look, I’m thinking about building this super plane deal, it’s gonna cost huge sums of money, what do you think?” That’s, and maybe say no, no I think that’s a good idea, maybe we’ll go with the F-16. So then I responded. Are you about to say something?”

Josh: "No."

Sen. Sanders continues: “That’s where, in the real world, if the plan is built, and it is the plan that the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force and of NATO, and if the choice is if that goes to Vermont, North Carolina-not North Carolina, South Carolina, or Florida, what is your choice as a United States Senator? Do you want it to go to South Carolina? You’re not saving anybody any money. So you have to look at these things in a, and it becomes complicated, and good friends can disagree on that. But my view is that given the reality of the damn plane, I’d rather it come to Vermont than to South Carolina. And that’s what the Vermont National Guard wants, and that means hundreds of jobs in my city. That’s it.”


Sanders promoted the McNeil biomass incinerator in his home town of Burlington. It burns trees to generate 50 megawatts.

Sanders and Clinton Back Bioenergy, but Activists Say It's the Wrong Alternative
Thursday, 07 April 2016 00:00
By Josh Schlossberg, Truthout | News Analysis

"The Fix is In"

Potemkin Party by James Howard Kunstler

July 27, 2015

How many of you brooding on the dreadful prospect of Hillary have chanced to survey what remains of Democratic Party (cough cough) leadership in the background of Her Royal Inevitableness? Nothing is the answer. Zip. Nobody. A vacuum. There is no Democratic Party anymore. There are no figures of gravitas anywhere to be found, no ideas really suited to the American prospect, nothing with the will to oppose the lumbering parasitic corporatocracy that is doing little more than cluttering up this moment in history while it sucks the last dregs of value from our society.

I say this as a lifelong registered Democrat but a completely disaffected one — who regards the Republican opposition as the mere errand boy of the above-named lumbering parasitic corporatocracy. Readers are surely chafing to insert that the Democrats have been no less errand boys (and girls) for the same disgusting zeitgeist, and they are surely correct in the case of Hillary, and indeed of the current President.

Readers are surely also chafing to insert that there is Bernie Sanders, climbing in the opinion polls, disdaining Wall Street money, denouncing the current disposition of things with the old union hall surliness we’ve grown to know and love. I’m grateful that Bernie is in the race, that he’s framing an argument against Ms. It’s My Turn. I just don’t happen to think that Bernie gets what the country — indeed what all of techno-industrial society — is really up against, namely a long emergency of economic contraction and collapse.

These circumstances require a very different agenda than just an I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill redistributionist scheme. Lively as Bernie is, I don’t think he offers much beyond that, as if cadging a little more tax money out of WalMart, General Mills, and Exxon-Mobil will fix what is ailing this sad-ass polity. The heart of the matter is that our way of life has shot its wad and now we have to live very differently. Almost nobody wants to even try to think about this.

I hugely resent the fact that the Democratic Party puts its time and energy into the stupid sexual politics of the day when it should be working on issues such as re-localizing commercial economies (rebuilding Main Streets), reforming agriculture to avoid the total collapse of corporate-industrial farming, and fixing the passenger rail system so people will have some way to get around the country when happy Motoring dies (along with commercial aviation).

The “to do” list for rearranging the basic systems of daily life in America is long and loaded with opportunity. Every system that is retooled contains jobs and social roles for people who have been shut out of the economy for two generations. If we do everything we can to promote smaller-scaled local farming, there will be plenty of work for lesser-skilled people to do and get paid for. Saying goodbye to the tyranny of Big Box commerce would open up vast vocational opportunities in reconstructed local and regional networks of commerce, especially for young people interested in running their own business. We need to prepare for localized clinic-style medicine (in opposition to the continuing amalgamation and gigantization of hospitals, with its handmaidens of Big Pharma and the insurance rackets). The train system has got to be reborn as a true public utility. Just about every other civilized country is already demonstrating how that is done — it’s not that difficult and it would employ a lot of people at every level. That is what the agenda of a truly progressive political party should be at this moment in history.

That Democrats even tolerate the existence of evil entities like WalMart is an argument for ideological bankruptcy of the party. Democratic Presidents from Carter to Clinton to Obama could have used the Department of Justice and the existing anti-trust statutes to at least discourage the pernicious monopolization of commerce that Big Boxes represented. By the same token, President Obama could have used existing federal law to break up the banking oligarchy starting in 2009, not to mention backing legislation to more crisply define alleged corporate “personhood” in the wake of the ruinous “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision of 2010. They don’t even talk about it because Wall Street owns them.

So, you fellow disaffected Democrats — those of you who can’t go over to the other side, but feel you have no place in your country’s politics — look around and tell me who you see casting a shadow on the Democratic landscape. Nobody. Just tired, corrupt, devious old Hillary and her nemesis Bernie the Union Hall Champion out of a Pete Seeger marching song.

I’ve been saying for a while that this period of history resembles the 1850s in America in two big ways: 1) our society faces a crisis, and 2) the existing political parties are not up to the task of comprehending what society faces. In the 1850s it was the Whigs that dried up and blew away (virtually overnight), while the old Democratic party just entered a 75-year wilderness of irrelevancy. God help us if Trump-o-mania turns out to be the only alternative.

Oh, by the way, notice that the lead editorial in Monday’s New York Times is a plea for transgender bathrooms in schools. What could be more important? For Transgender Americans, Legal Battles Over Restrooms