First, please note that I have not been a Bernie Sanders activist or supporter. I am among the huge number of Democrats who have taken the Indivisible Pledge: to support the eventual Democratic nominee in order to be rid of an incompetent, lawless and immoral first-term president.
But I was shocked at the attack published on the Benicia Herald’s Forum page on January 3. For some reason, Arcata resident Jake Pickering was featured there, bashing Senator Sanders with four damning and salacious charges.
I had to wonder if this was one of the Russians’ faked attempts at stirring up internal dissention among Trump’s opposition. But I did a little googling of Mr. Pickering in Arcata, and discovered that he is real, and a supporter of Elizabeth Warren – and highly critical of the current president.
Next I got busy on Snopes, fact-checking Mr. Pickering’s charges against Bernie.
To go through the charges one by one here, in public, would probably only add to the misinformation by repetition. So I’ll refrain from detailing and debunking each one.
Suffice to say that Senator Sanders describes himself as a Democratic Socialist. Wikipedia states that Sanders is “an admirer of aspects of social democracy as practiced in the Scandinavian countries. In an address on his political philosophy given at Georgetown University in November 2015, Sanders identified his conception of ‘democratic socialism’ with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s proposal for a Second Bill of Rights, saying that democratic socialism means creating ‘an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy,’ reforming the political system (which Sanders says is ‘grossly unfair’ and ‘in many respects, corrupt’), recognizing health care and education as rights, protecting the environment, and creating a ‘vibrant democracy based on the principle of one person, one vote.’ He explained that democratic socialism is not tied to Marxism or the abolition of capitalism but rather describes a program of extensive social benefits, funded by broad-based taxes.” [Wikipedia]
The Wikipedia article also states that “Multiple commentators have examined Sanders’ characterization of his political platform and ideology as ‘socialism’ and generally found it to support tax-funded social benefits rather than social ownership of the means of production.”
Mr. Pickering levels ancient charges stemming from Senator Sanders’ life and words back in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Snopes confirms that Sanders wrote an unfortunate essay in 1972 which has been characterized as misogynist. But the gist of Sanders’ article was “to attack gender stereotypes of the ’70s”, pointing out that long-held patriarchal gender stereotypes have kept both men and women from full and equal relationships. Sanders “explains his ideas about gender roles and eventually gets at a sharper point — that traditional gender roles help create troubling dynamics.” [Snopes.com]
It’s a given that electoral campaigns must draw distinctions between candidates, but voters should be wary of overstated attacks of any one supporter on their competition.
Each and every one of the huge field of Democrats running for president would be a great and welcome improvement over the Russian stooge we elected in 2016.