As a die-hard Berner from day one, I’ve heard a lot of criticism of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Starting last spring, the mainstream media and the Democratic Party establishment have done their best to sideline him as a kooky leftist ideologue. As Bernie Sanders became more popular, the media increasingly ran skeptical reports questioning his “pie in the sky” proposals. The experienced legislator was mocked as naive, foolish, divisive, and out of his league.
But not until yesterday was Bernie Sanders called cruel, callous, and profiteering. In a highly controversial tweet, Hillary Clinton said:
“@BernieSanders prioritized gun manufacturers’ rights over the parents of the children killed at Sandy Hook.”
There is no justification whatsoever for this blatant attempt to score cheap political points by insinuating that Bernie Sanders was callous about the deaths of children. And the fact that this tweet came after weeks of Hillary Clinton’s incessant whining about being bullied only adds to the outrage. This upsetting tweet is even worse than the political sucker punch Clinton launched during the first Democratic president debate on October 13, when she attacked Bernie Sanders on gun control only moments after he generously chose to not address her e-mail scandal.
Between the October 13 sucker punch and yesterday’s tweet, it should be clear to all voters that the only bully in the race between Sanders and Clinton is Hillary Clinton. I can tolerate listening to attacks arguing that Bernie Sanders is unrealistic and naive…but I will not tolerate attacks arguing that Bernie Sanders does not care. If there is any candidate in the 2016 presidential race who cares about the people, it is the U.S. Senator from Vermont.
The only candidate who truly cares about citizens’ health care is Bernie Sanders. The only candidate who truly cares about college affordability and access is Bernie Sanders. The only candidate who truly cares about poverty and income inequality is Bernie Sanders. He cares so much about these issues that he has exercised unprecedented political courage and proposed reforms that he knew would be mocked.
Bernie Sanders cares enough that he subjects himself to mockery, insults, and the disdain of the establishment. It truly hurts me that Hillary Clinton would dare suggest that Bernie Sanders does not care about people, about children. She could have said virtually anything else…but not that.
Before yesterday, I still thought Hillary Clinton was better for America than Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. After that tweet, I’m not so sure. The tweet was so malevolent, desperate, and cheaply political that it shocks the conscience.
If Hillary Clinton wants to discuss priorities, I would like to know why she has prioritized health insurance corporations’ profits over citizens’ health care. I would like to know why she has prioritized college administrators’ paychecks over students’ education. I would like to know why she has prioritized convenience over courage, especially in regard to her Iraq War vote.
Hillary Clinton only stands up against gun manufacturers because they are currently loathed by liberals – criticizing them requires no courage on her part. Bernie Sanders displays tremendous courage by insisting that producers of legal products – even controversial ones – should not be sued for producing those legal products. True leadership involves standing up for those who are unpopular and those with whom we disagree.
Even though Bernie Sanders has a D- rating from the NRA, revealing that he is very far from pro-gun, he has the political courage to stand up for what it right. He knows that allowing people to sue gun manufacturers for merely making their legal products would open up similar liability to brewers, distillers, pharmaceutical companies, and the auto industry. People could sue brewers and distillers over drunk driving. They could sue pharmaceutical companies for people operating equipment while experiencing side effects. They could sue auto manufacturers for producing and selling vehicles that were too large, too powerful, and could be used in the commission of crimes.
In the aftermath of tragedy, it is easy to give in to anger and demand punishment for anyone linked to those who committed the actual crime. It is easy to blame gun manufacturers, just as it would be easy to blame brewers, distillers, drug manufacturers, and the auto industry. True leadership involves a level head, respect for established law, and not giving in to anger and hate. Only Bernie Sanders has met that standard, and he doesn’t play cheap politics.
Before yesterday I was only pro-Bernie, not anti-Hillary. Today, it’s a different story.