There are plenty of factual reasons to like or support Bernie Sanders, but one of the issues I encounter when I deal with many Sanders supporters is how misinformed they are concerning a lot of factual information. It’s understandable because many of them have wrapped themselves up in what I call a “pro-Sanders bubble” where they’ve inundated themselves with blogs, writers, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts that feed them almost nothing but pro-Sanders headlines, tweets and articles. It is confirmation bias at its worst. They like Sanders, so they seek out information that confirms their feelings for the senator from Vermont while rejecting anything that might even remotely burst their bubble.
If Sanders says something, to many of his most devout followers, it’s true – even if it’s not.
Don’t get me wrong, I love passion. It’s great. But all I ask is let’s make sure passion doesn’t override reality.
Take for instance one issue I’ve had lately concerning Sanders’ claim that the media isn’t giving him enough attention. Since he publicly brought this up a few weeks ago, I’ve seen article after article of pro-Sanders rhetoric about this. His supporters have flooded the Internet with conspiracy theories and attacks on the mainstream media for “being afraid of Bernie Sanders.”
Look, if you like Sanders (as I do, too), that’s great. But let’s try to stay level here and deal with some realities.
Has Sanders received a lot of mainstream media attention? No, he hasn’t. Definitely not as much as Trump. But let’s also be honest about something: Sanders rarely says anything different. He gives basically the same speech and interview each time he gives one.
Do I like a lot of what he has to say? Absolutely. But the media is not going to give him hour after hour of coverage to report that he said the same thing today that he said last Wednesday. That’s just not realistic.
This is not a “conspiracy against Sanders” – it’s just the nature of today’s news.
And it’s not as if Clinton is getting nearly as much coverage as Trump either. While she is talked about a lot more often than Sanders according to the study he cited, she still wasn’t discussed even half as much as Trump – despite the fact that she’s, by far, the more dominant frontrunner of the two. When she is mentioned, it’s usually because the media is addressing some sort of negative comment a Republican candidate said about her. Let’s not kid ourselves, just because one candidate is getting more airtime than another, that doesn’t necessarily mean that coverage is positive.
That’s another fallacy many Sanders supporters assume about the media. The truth is, more media coverage typically means more scrutiny – not more praise. Since many Sanders supporters have wrapped themselves up in this bubble of pro-Sanders information, they seem to think that he would get the same treatment in the mainstream media that he does from many liberal blogs and writers. These folks really don’t want non-biased, honest coverage of Sanders. What they want is for the mainstream media to push the same pro-Sanders rhetoric they’ve surrounded themselves in for the last few months.
Here are a few bits and pieces about Sanders that might get brought up if he were truly vetted and scrutinized nationally:
- Despite the fact he’s been a vocal critic of lobbyists and bloated defense spending, he voted for and staunchly defends the most expensive defense project in United States history: The F-35 Lightening. A project that’s been an absolute disaster, and with a price tag around $1.2 trillion, this one plane is going to cost taxpayers just slightly less than the entire Iraq War. Why did he support this project? Well, because it created jobs in his home state.
- He once said, “It would be hypocritical of me to run as a Democrat because of the things I have said about the party.” Yet here he is, running as a Democrat.
- While he didn’t flat-out praise Fidel Castro, he did talk rather kindly about him in 1985 for providing health care and education to the people and “transforming Cuba.” Well, while it’s nice to give people eduction and health care – Castro was still a fairly brutal dictator. Let’s not forget, mass murdering Columbian drug lord, Pablo Escobar, also provided health care, built schools and provided other various forms of humanitarian acts for the people of Columbia. It’s not completely uncommon for brutal dictators or psychotic leaders to try to win over the people by simply giving them stuff to distract them from other horrific realities of their “leadership.” (Note: I am not comparing Bernie Sanders or his leadership skills to Castro or Escobar, I’m simply stating that his past words about Castro will, and should, be scrutinized.)
- Then there’s always the fact that, while very liberal, he’s seemingly pandered to the gun lobby in Vermont (a pro-gun state) by opposing the Brady Bill and legislation that would have allowed the families of victims of gun violence to potentially sue gun sellers.
- While he likes to bring up that he’s supported same-sex marriage long before it was popular, back in the early 2000’s he was actually awarded the “Wishy-Washy Award” by some in the local Vermont press because of how he seemingly tip-toed around the gay marriage issue in the state. Then, in 2006, during a Senate debate, he said, “I believe the federal government should not be involved in overturning Massachusetts or any other state because I think the whole issue of marriage is a state issue.” Yes, that’s Bernie Sanders saying marriage should be left up to the states, a commonly used line by Republicans like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. So, it’s not as if he’s been fully onboard with the full-on national legalization of gay marriage his entire career.
- Sanders also voted for Bill Clinton’s now infamous “tough on crime” bill despite the fact that he often tries to champion himself as someone who’s been a lifelong critic of harsh incarceration policies.
- While many Sanders supporters think Clinton is nothing but a moderate Republican, the fact is when the two served together in the Senate they voted the same way 93 percent of the time.
- He’s currently ranked as the fourth most liberal member of the Senate – when Clinton served she was ranked 11th. So, the reality is, there’s not a whole lot of difference between the two when it comes to voting records.
Now I’m certain many Sanders supporters will bash me for pointing all of that out, but everything I just listed is absolutely true. I can guarantee you that if the mainstream media does decide to “give Sanders some more attention,” they’ll bring up far more than I did. So, let’s not pretend that more mainstream media attention is going to instantly be a positive boost for Sanders.
Then there are just a few flat-out myths many Sanders supporters believe about his standing as a candidate:
- No, he’s not gaining on Clinton – and he hasn’t in over three months. In fact, she’s experiencing her largest national lead since the summer.
- He’s only really competitive in one state, New Hampshire, and is trailing by double-digits to Clinton in Iowa.
- Online polls are worthless. They’re not scientific or even remotely credible, as was proven in this Fox News poll that was hijacked by an online pro-Sanders social media surge. So, please, stop citing them to “prove” something.
- Stop comparing 2008 to 2016 – he’s not Barack Obama. You can’t compare two different elections as no two are the same. Just ask Rick Santorum; he won 11 states and came in second to Mitt Romney in 2012. This year he’s polling significantly lower than a stubbed toe before your morning coffee.
- While I know Clinton is not everyone’s cup of tea, like I pointed out earlier based on the non-partisan account of their voting records, there’s not nearly as much of a difference between the two as many Sanders supporters seem to think there is.
- While Sanders has received a lot of union endorsements, Clinton still has more.
- Repealing Glass-Steagall was not nearly as big of a deal as Sanders has made it out to be. But don’t believe me – just ask Paul Krugman.
- While Clinton gets hit for her ties to Wall Street (and rightfully so some of the time), she actually did push for tough reforms on Wall Street back in 2007 while she was a senator.
- No, Clinton does not work for Monsanto.
- The polls are not rigged to favor Clinton. These are the same polling companies and methods that were used in 2008 that rightfully reflected Obama’s surge in December of 2007 and January of 2008 that eventually correctly predicted his victory. These are also the same polls many pro-Sanders websites were using this past summer to brag about his surge from single-digits to bona fide contender.
- Despite the belief by many Sanders backers that he’s “Mr. Honest” and Clinton is an untrustworthy liar – they tell the truth at about the same rate.
Look, I’ll stop there. I know this sounds like an “anti-Sanders” article, but it’s really not meant to be. My issue here is making sure, no matter who we support, we’re supporting that candidate based on facts – not propaganda, myths, or our own agenda for or against someone else. There’s plenty of good and bad talking points about each candidate to base our support or objections on reality rather than fiction.
And as always, no matter who ultimately wins the nomination, we must all come together when it’s all said and done to support the nominee and elect a Congress that’s actually willing to work with them. I really don’t believe that this country can survive a Republican in the White House. If the GOP wins the White House it would mean millions of Americans would lose health care; women’s rights would come under even greater attack; we’d most definitely end up in another war; same-sex marriage could face setbacks; the Supreme Court could be placed into firm conservative control for the next 20-30 years; and practically all the progress we’ve made over the last few years will probably be undone almost instantly.
While neither Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders are perfect (sorry Martin O’Malley, poll over 10 percent and we’ll talk), on their absolute worst day they’re far… far better than any of the Republicans vying for the GOP nomination.
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