Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bernie Sanders: Populist or Opportunist?

Bernie Sanders: Populist or Opportunist?

by Stephen Lendman

Compared to Hillary Clinton and array of Republican presidential aspirants looking more like a police lineup, Sanders seems almost saintly. Hold the cheers.

On the one hand, no one challenging money-controlled US politics has a chance to win any top position in government - let alone the presidency. Sander's chance to become president is zero.

On the other, ignore what he and other politicians say. Follow what they do, mainly their voting record on issues mattering most.

Give him credit. Sanders is on the right side of many issues - including calling income inequality "the great moral issue of our time."

At the same time, he talks the talk but often doesn't walk the walk. He supported sequestration cuts affecting public education, healthcare and housing, Head Start, disaster relief, federal employee wages and other populist programs. 

His voting record too often supports America's killing machine. He usually votes for annual defense authorizations providing funding for America's empire of bases, waging war on humanity and threatening its survival.

He supports funding America's Gestapo - the Department of Homeland Security, a rogue agency by any standard.

Earlier he supported maintaining a Cuban travel ban. He later voted to lift it. He opposed permanent normal trade relations with China.

He was the only Senate member publicly supporting universal healthcare - then voted with Democrats for Obamacare. His no vote would have killed what Ralph Nader calls a "pay or die" system - a rationing scheme benefitting insurers, drug companies and large hospital chains.

The problem with Sanders is his rhetoric belies his record. He votes 98% of the time with Senate Democrats.

He'll support Hillary Clinton if she's nominated. "Maybe I shouldn't say this: I like Hillary Clinton," he said.

So far, he refuses to attack her pro-war, pro-corporate favoritism agenda. When asked if he'll support the Democrat party nominee, he said: "Yes. I have in the past." 

He refuses to run as an independent. "(A)bsolutely not," he said. "I've been very clear about that." At the same time, the chance for him becoming the Democrat nominee is virtually nil.

In launching his presidential bid, it's one thing to say we need a "political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally."

"Today we stand here and say loudly and clearly: Enough is enough. This great nation and its government belong to all of the people and not to a handful of billionaires."

It's quite another falling short too often - or supporting what demands denunciation.

Instead of accepting the wrongheaded view about Iran wanting nuclear weapons, he should forthrightly explain its peaceful program with no military component or intention to have one. He hasn't done it.

He supports Israel's killing machine. He justified its summer 2014 genocidal Gaza war based on Big Lies - without explaining Hamas fired rockets on Israeli territory in self-defense after repeated IDF provocations and attacks.

During an August 2014 town hall meeting, he defended naked Israeli aggression and told a Palestinian supporter to "shut up."

He unjustly accuses Hamas for Israeli high crimes. He voted for Senate legislation calling on the UN to rescind the Goldstone report on Israeli Operation Cast Lead war on Gaza high crimes.

He opposes Palestinian statehood based on pre-June 1967 borders - 22% of historic Palestine.

He's against it without first achieving the impossible - Israel agreeing to an equitable peace. He supports vetoing any Security Council resolution on Palestinian statehood without a settlement - based on Israeli imposed terms.

If Sanders really wanted revolutionary change, he'd renounce both major parties as two sides of the same coin - not a dime's worth of difference between them on issues mattering most.

He'd denounce America's money-controlled political process - a rigged system giving ordinary people no say, a sham democracy in name only.

Instead, he ludicrously says "I will not be a spoiler. I will not play that role in helping to elect some right-wing Republican as president of the United States."

He prefers war-goddess, corporate controlled, GMO supporter, anti-populist Hillary Clinton who'll match or exceed the extremism of any Republican aspirant.

His role is urging independents to vote Democrat when he drops out of the race in summer 2016 for lack of enough support.

He's largely a man of the people in name only. He fails to forthrightly denounce a corrupted US political/economic system demanding revolutionary top to bottom change.

He's part of the dirty system elevating him from Burlington Vermont mayor to congressman to senator to presidential aspirant.

He's aged 73, in politics since 1981, nominally independent, a de facto Democrat, too often a business as usual supporter based on his voting record.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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