What Bernie Sanders Isn’t Saying

by William Skink

7 days ago it was the New York Times reporting on Bernie Sanders gaining on Hillary Clinton in Iowa. 5 days ago it was Slate talking about how big crowds seem indicative of Sanders’ polling trend, closing the gap to 19 points in Iowa. Yesterday, a new poll showed Bernie gaining ground in Florida.

It’s easy to get caught up in this populist insurgency against the Democrat’s corporate darling, Hillary Clinton. Those of us without blinders on can extrapolate from her past record what a Hillary Clinton presidency will look like, and it’s frightening. So it’s not surprising that the rhetoric from the Sanders campaign is like a narcotic when contrasted with the hollow proclamations from Clinton.

While Bernie seems to be saying all the right things about domestic issues, some have noted a conspicuous absence of rhetoric about foreign policy. Since over half of every tax dollar goes to maintaining the largest killing machine on earth, it seems like probably an important thing to talk about. Unless of course you think your positions won’t necessarily align with a certain populist branding bumping you up in the polls, right Bernie?

Here’s Bruce Gagnon, writing for Counterpunch:

The candidate was getting huge applause as he took on Wall St, the Koch brothers, income inequality and the like. He touched on all the traditional progressive buttons just like I’d heard Jesse Jackson, Ralph Nader, and Dennis Kucinich do in the past. Women’s issues, single-payer health care, student loans hitting young people, and more were addressed. Sanders called for free college tuition for all. He wants to create millions of new jobs. He talked about fixing our neglected and broken infrastructure. He hit hard on climate change calling for a sustainable society.

It was when he mentioned climate change that I figured he had to talk about the military industrial complex, because after all that is the pot of gold that has to be tapped in order to pay for building the new vision of America that Bernie so eloquently laid out. But nothing was said about the metastasizing Pentagon budget nor a mumbling word was spoken about foreign policy. Nothing about Russia (Sanders does support sanctions on Moscow), nothing about NATO expansion, nothing about Israel’s brutal attacks on Gaza (Sanders has publicly supported Tel Aviv’s attacks on Palestinians), nothing about negotiations with Iran, nothing about waste, fraud, abuse at the Pentagon, nothing about our endless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, etc, and nothing about conversion of the military industrial complex to peaceful production.

After making many social program promises the only thing Bernie mentioned as a way to pay for all of this was a tax on “Wall Street speculation” which of course got a big cheer.

Maybe there are other reasons Bernie is avoiding foreign policy. Criticizing Israel is of course akin to political suicide, so Bernie definitely has to stay mum on pointing out how that murderous apartheid state continues to enact incremental genocide. And why talk about NATO encircling Russia when the propaganda in the states is so effective most people actually think it’s Russia acting as the aggressor?

No, talking about foreign policy isn’t a winning strategy if you’re wanting to win a political popularity contest. It certainly didn’t work in my favor at the old blog space, that’s for sure. People just don’t want to hear how insane America has become as it tries desperately to dominate global affairs, creating chaos where control can’t be achieved.

So enjoy Bernie’s pretty talk about inequality and sticking it to Wall Street and forget that actually addressing America’s big problems means accounting for the cost of maintaining empire.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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35 Responses to What Bernie Sanders Isn’t Saying

  1. Big Swede says:

    Face it, Bernie is your future especially when us baby boomers die off.

    “According to a YouGov poll, 52 percent of Americans hold favorable views of capitalism, while only 26 percent have a favorable view of socialism. When broken down further, 43 percent of Democrats hold sympathetic views towards socialism. Democrats are as just likely to have a favorable view of capitalism as they do collectivism. The future does not bode well for free-market fans. According to a Pew poll, 49 percent of those between ages 18 and 29 say they have a positive view of socialism—with only 43 percent having a negative view. Considering the history and connotation of the word, that’s quite extraordinary.”-David Harsanyi.

    • steve kelly says:


      Inverted totalitarianism, or the monitization/commodification of everything is a leap beyond your/Harsanyi’s antiquated and overly simplistic coke-or-pepsi views. There is no capitalism, no free-markets. Nor is there classical socialism. Today, everywhere it’s special-interest/corporate all of the time, and if left uncontrolled it will destroy everything, literally.

      That’s the political system. The economic system is corporatism.

      “Corporatism is collectivist; it is a different version of collectivism than socialism but it is definitely collectivist. It places some importance on the fact that private property is not nationalized, but the control through regulation is just as real. It is de facto nationalization without being de jure nationalization.

      Although Corporatism is not a familiar concept to the general public, most of the economies of the world are corporatist in nature. The categories of socialist and pure market economy are virtually empty. There are only corporatist economies of various flavors.

      These flavors of corporatism include the social democratic regimes of Europe and the Americas, but also the East Asian and Islamic fundamentalist regimes such as Taiwan, Singapore and Iran. The Islamic socialist states such as Syria, Libya and Algeria are more corporatist than socialist, as was Iraq under Saddam Hussain. The formerly communist regimes such as Russia and China are now clearly corporatist in economic philosphy although not in name.” http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/corporatism.htm

      • Everyone, and I mean everyone hates competition. Corporations typically spend more resources buying up competition than turning out better products. If a corporation, or group of corporations, can gain control of a mere 20% of a market, competition begins to disappear as unspoken pricing arrangements take over. “Competitors are our friends, customers our enemies” said Dwayne Andreas.

        • Big Swede says:

          Really? Without competition you’d be have these debates/discussions down at your local cafe over cup of coffee.

        • What is called “competition” among large corporations is really non-compete covenants. Markets are sliced up, prices are maintained at a high level, and there is an implicit understanding that competition will be only on stylish matters, like phone color or advertising slogans. All mobile phones now, for instance, are priced the same no matter where you go. All dental services are the same price, wherever you go. Speaking of coffee, all European-style coffee is priced the same. All American airlines are priced the same, and when one does something shitty, like eliminating meals or charging for carry-ons, the others follow. There you have negative competition.

          “Competitors are our friends, customers our enemy.”

      • Big Swede says:

        Best comment in response to the Hedges UTube.

        “Shit Hedges, no one cares about your post-modernist whining.
        Wake me up when hegemonic corporate co-modification start shoving people into gas chambers.”

        • There is a huge death toll for “corporate co-modification” among people of Souteast Asia and the Middle East and Central America. It is in the tens of millions at least. don’t be so smug just because non-Serbian whites are so far exempt.

        • Big Swede says:

          Give us the numbers per continent Mark. I need a chuckle.

        • The information you seek is in books and so safely hidden from you.

        • Big Swede says:

          Maybe you can loan me your book on how monopolies are better than the competitive marketplace?

        • Again, safely hidden. You’re not getting that there is no “competitive marketplace,” are you.

        • steve kelly says:

          Beyond your obvious emotional dislike, anything substantive you might like to object to?

          Let me try this again: “In the last half of the 19th century people of the working class in Europe were beginning to show interest in the ideas of socialism and syndicalism. Some members of the intelligentsia, particularly the Catholic intelligentsia, decided to formulate an alternative to socialism which would emphasize social justice without the radical solution of the abolition of private property. The result was called Corporatism. The name had nothing to do with the notion of a business corporation except that both words are derived from the Latin word for body, corpus.” http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/corporatism.htm

          Let me repeat for clarity: “… the name had nothing to do with the notion of a business corporation…..”

  2. I don’t know why the notion of “controlled opposition” is such a hard sell. Must we buy into every fable cast our way? It makes much more sense, since there is so much public sentiment as Bernie gives voice to, to have a man under control to voice it. This would explain th3 favorable press he is getting, unheard of for real progressives. When Bernie folds his tent and throws his support behind Hillary, pwoggies will, again, have nowhere else to go.

    Another possibility is that Bernie is a shill for Jeb Bush, being used to weaken Hillary. If Bernie actually got the nomination, he’d be massacred by a hostile press and abandoned by the party. That possibility, that he’s a stalking horse for Bush, must be considered.

    That he is the real deal? Nah. The real deal, as was Nader in 2000, is not allowed the time of day. The real deal gets no public notice, not mention in the polls, no phony talk of a “surge” behind him.

    Eugene McCarthy played a similar role in 1968, a sponge to absorb progressive sentiments in order to control them. A book listing American CIA agents was published in East Germany during that time. Among the names was McCarthy’s.

    • Big Swede says:

      Nader was a CIA double agent working for the East Germans.

      Planted McCarthy’s name in the book.

      • It is possible that Nader was a stalking horse for George W. Bush. That was the effect of his candidacy. Whether intended or not we cannot know. Maybe he too was manipulated. He did keep Al Gore out of office, and for that I thank him.

        Does it ever occur to you that in politics, people sometimes lie? That even though something is on TV, it might not be true?

        • JC says:

          Thanks Steve, that was a good read.

        • This is taken from Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope, P938.

          More than fifty years ago [written in 1965] the [JP] Morgan firm decided to infiltrate the Left-wing political movements in the United States. This was relatively easy to do, since these groups were starved for funds and eager for a voice to reach the people. Wall Street supplied both. The purpose was not to destroy, dominate, or take over but was really threefold: (1) to keep informed about the thinking of Left-wing or liberal groups (2) to provide them with a mouthpiece so that they could “blow off steam,” and (3) to have final veto on their publicity and possibly on their actions, if they ever went “radical.” …The best example of this alliance of Wall Street and Left-wing publication was The New Republic, a magazine founded by Willard Straight, using Payne Whitney money, in 1914. …

          I cite that just to introduce the notion, which seems so unthinkable, that both the “left” and the “right” in this country answer to the same people. There has to be opposition if we are going to pretend to be a democratic country, so the best way to have that opposition is to control it.

          Normally when a true lefty gains prominence, he is gunned down (e.g. RFK) or scandalized (e.g. John Edwards). The only “lefties” we are allowed are the gatekeepers, Amy Goodman and Company, The Nation Magazine, Mother Jones, and all of the fake liberals in the Democratic party. Those people and outlets perform an important role in allowing the left a voice, but stopping it short of being effective. And note with Goodman for example (Ford Foundation), they are starved for funds and eager to have a voice.

          Now we have Bernie, and it seems all the restraints are lifted. He’s getting loud and vocal support, the controlled media is taking notice, he is being featured in the polls. Please, people, can we maintain just a little dignity, keep a little distance? Something smells here.

          I do not claim to know what is up, but I know this country too well. Only 20 years ago I was a Democrat candidate for legislature but grew out of it.

          What it appears to be ain’t what it is. How do I know? I just do.

        • Craig Moore says:

          Mark, perhaps the bait is about to be switched with Hillary receiving the ATF endorsement. http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-teachers-union-votes-hillary-1436741319
          Bernie is a mere stalking horse to lure the energetic Left onto a limb where only Hillary can save them if only they get out and vote for her. We should have a betting exercise, like ice breakup. as to when ID starts with pro-Hillary posts. All proceeds to charity.

        • Thank you Craig. Perhaps you, being outside Democrat circles, see more clearly than the others.

  3. JC says:

    “talking about foreign policy isn’t a winning strategy if you’re wanting to win a political popularity contest”

    Unfortunately, I think the lack of talk about foreign policy is indicative that democrats — and Obama and Clinton clearly embody this — really support America’s drive for hegemony. That they really believe in American exceptionalism and its RTP (right to protect) prerogatives.

    So of course, Sanders (or any other politician for that matter) has to not only avoid “political suicide”, but he needs to avoid being assassinated for espousing views endangering the MIC, particularly if they appear to have any hint of chance of beating the chosen few candidates (Bushes, Clintons and their acolytes like Obama).

    It’s a dangerous thing to be a real candidate running against the current. You risk becoming a martyr. Of course this isn’t to say that I believe Sanders is a real candidate. Nader ran again and again because he believed what he said and what he campaigned on. Sanders? Why did he wait till now to run? He could have been a great alternative to John Kerry in 2004 or Obama in 2008, when he was younger.

    He would be 75 entering office. Reagan was only 69 — the oldest person entering the presidency — and everybody thought he was too old. Clinton will be 69 entering office if she wins, the second oldest person to become president. Sanders would be the oldest by almost 6 years. That would most likely be the exceptional thing about his candidacy if he wins…

    • Here’s a question, not rhetorical: we spend a great deal of time deciding who will sit in the Oval Office. But is that the “SOG?” The seat of government for foreign policy lies in the MIC and the various factions that jockey for power. For health care, it was AHIP/PhRMA. For fiscal policy, bailouts and all of that, it was Wall Street banks.

      Question: What power does the executive really have anyway? As far as I can tell, it is the recipient of policy decisions, the spear chucker.

    • Or, if it fails to carry our instructions, the spear catcher.

  4. Steve W says:

    The Bernie Sanders campaign is no more or no less important than, say, the Occupy Movement in organizing and or empowering humans to view the world from the prism of power dynamics. To me the single most important message of the Sanders Campaign is him explicitly calling for political revolution. His statement and call for millions of politically activated Americans, and his analysis that Obama ran a brilliant campaign up until he said, “Thanks I got this now.”

    Sanders is explicitly calling for movement politics.

    Martin King formed his movement around universal civil rights for all races in America, but after he had built a functioning movement organization he then expanded to war and economic justice tied into how we split up the budget.

    Bernie is attacking the main problem head on and it’s resonating across our our land.
    Corporations have taken over and perverted our government and our country. Who wants war? Not people.

    So i have to completely admit that you Bernie wet blankets are right, Bernie hasn’t specifically addressed war in the way some people would like, nor for that matter has he really addressed cannabis. But Bernie has addressed corporations head on. For many years now. I’m OK with his call for a single payer health insurance system, free college, breaking up the too big to fail banks. i can walk and chew gum.

    Why can’t Jill Stein get her name on the Montana ballot? How come she can’t attract at least as many listeners or interested parties as Hillary can, let alone what Bernie’s getting? Where is Jill Stein on cannabis? I never see her and Amy Goodman discussing it. So what now/ Is Jill motivating a large swath of people to join a political revolution? To mobilize and march on Washington?

    So until I do, I gotta go with what’s going on. I commend Bernie for stepping up to the plate and i hope he hits it out of the park! His decision to get ballot access by running on the Democratic ballot is certainly controversial. Yet it’s been screamingly successful from a political point of view.

    I hope he gets asked about the coop in the Ukraine and the sanctions. I’d like to hear him address it.

    Peace out.

    • “Peace out?” Was that a storm out? OK. We all love a good storm out!

      I’m searching for an allegory. Try this: Our political contests are like a three ring circus, with elephants and lions and tiger, clowns and trapeze artists. It’s wonderful! Meanwhile, the overlords, the people who run the country, don’t care about it. It is, after all, just a show.

      We are stuffed like sausages from birth with the notion that our political contests determine our fate. But they are time sinks, a distraction designed to impart upon us a lie, the idea that we run the country. We don’t.

      I get yammered at about being cynical when I am merely realistic. Look about you. Do you see any political wisdom? Insight? Wisdom? Critical thought? It may be that the moneyed interests are no better equipped to run this asylum than the bewildered herd, but in that case, choose your poison. I can live with that. I’ve long accepted it. People are as we are. We cannot self-govern. It takes time and thought and learning, and we just ain’t good at those things.

      Anyway, about Bernie: Consider that the executive is nothing more than focal point for other power centers to use to achieve their ends. Consider that the last man who really thought he was president was murdered on a public street. Consider that the media are owned by the power brokers and bark on command. Consider that the polls are merely suggestion devices to hint to us who we ought to support. Consider that all of that is fake, and that elections don’t matter anyway.

      Then think: what’s up with Bernie? it is something other than an election outcome. Some other game is about. He is being played as a card in a game. Because it is poker, I don’t see the unplayed cards yet and have to guess. One thing I know: He ain’t real. He is either advancing the cause of the Jeb or the Hillary, or he’d not be featured and we’d not be talking about him. Kucinich, the real deal, ran this game for decades and never got anything more than a kiss on the forehead. The press and polls are smooching it up with Bernie. What’s up with that?

      Peace out.

    • Big Swede says:

      Greece called and they want their economic policy back.

      Peace out.

  5. steve kelly says:

    In a word: money. Green Party politics runs on sweat equity and heart. There is no money. Any senator lasting more than one term can, and must, raise huge sums of money. It comes at a price to all of us. Within the system, Bernie is as good as it gets. Stein and the Green Party cannot, and probably will not, find a way to overcome the need for huge sums of money to attract enough free media to enter homes through the tv. Bernie has crashed the two main gates — $millions and ballot access — keeping people separated from candidates who might actually want to help them.

    If you’d like to see Jill Stein on the November, 2016 ballot, it will take 10-12 dedicated volunteer signature-gatherers in larger towns and cities to get it done. I know 2 or 3. Any takers?

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