The Senator from Antipathy

by Deborah T. Bucknam

Deborah T. Bucknam

President Barack Obama said in his recent speech at the memorial service in Tucson, “It’simportant for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a waythat heals, not in a way that wounds.”

President Obama was right.

Vermont Congressman Peter Welch, in commenting on the Tucson tragedy, said that Vermonters do not engage in political hate speech; that their political civility can serve as a model to the nation

Congressman Welch was wrong.

In the wake of the Tucson tragedies where six people were killed and 13 wounded, Sen. Bernie Sanders used those deaths and those injuries to raise money for his 2012 Senate campaign.  Sanders sent out a letter to his supporters on January 11, 2011. In the first paragraph of his letter, he mentioned the “tragedy in Arizona”, thanked supporters for contributing to his 2012 campaign, and provided a link for more contributions.

In the third paragraph of his letter, Sanders wrote that the tragedy was “not some kind of strange aberration”. Then he listed incidents of threats against Rep Gabrielle Giffords and other Democrat politicians. Never mind that all politicians, including Republicans, routinely receive threats of violence against them. Sanders sought to paint a picture that Republicans are violent and dangerous. He even used an example of a Tea Party fundraiser where people were invited to shoot guns, to falsely infer that the event was used to “remove Rep. Giffords from office.” He concluded in his letter that “right wing reactionaries through threats and acts of violence intimidate people with different points of view from expressing their political positions.”

Who are “right wing reactionaries” who use violence to subvert our democracy, according to Sanders? All Republicans.

Fifteen years ago, Sanders wrote a political memoir called “Outsider in the House”. In it he had little to say about his specific agenda or his few accomplishments. He had a great deal to say about his opponents. Sanders called Republicans “crazy”, “wacko” (p. 25), the “lunatic fringe” (p. 99); they go “berserk” (p. 143). He called their policies “irrational” (p. 35, p. 131, p. 175) “ugly” (p. 35, p. 133), “mean” (p. 133) “garbage” (p. 40) “perverse” (p. 123), “destructive and reactionary” (p. 97), “morally bankrupt” (153) . According to Sanders, Republicans are “selfish, cruel and immoral” (p. 141), racist, sexist, homophobes, and anti immigrant ( p. 127). He wrote Republicans engage in “lies”, “bullshit” (p. 98), that their philosophy is a “sham” (p. 128).. He expressed disappointment that Republican Rep. John Boehner did not commit suicide. (p. 99)

Sanders used violent metaphors when talking about Republicans. He said Republicans “assault” and “beat up on” low income people. (p. 137, 139). Sanders said Republicans “target” poor people “like shooting fish in a barrel.” (p. 141, 142)

He called congressional Republicans elected in the landslide of 1994 “the most reactionary, [and] extremist” …in the modern history of America” (p. 49, p. 165

In his 244 page memoir, Sanders did not say one good thing about the millions of people who call themselves Republicans.

Sanders’s opinion of ordinary Americans, whether Republican, Democrat, or Independent, is no better. He explained in his memoir that Republicans win elections because, according to Sanders, ordinary citizens are “ignorant” prone to “fear”; that they are “prejudiced” and engage in “racial bigotry”. He claimed that Republicans pit different races and classes against each other to get themselves elected.

Sanders also maligned American soldiers in his memoir. Sanders’ core assumptions about the American military are revealed when he wrote, concerning the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, that “No photos of American atrocities would reach the evening news” (p. 115). According to Sanders’ world view, then, not only do American soldiers commit atrocities, but the American government covers up those atrocities. Then he demeaned veterans by writing, “as a result of their wartime experience, [they] will be unemployed and end up sleeping in the streets” ( p. 143).

Sanders has an obsessive hatred against the “rich” and “wealthy” and their “corporate allies”. In his memoir, Sanders poured scorn on them with the same virulence he attacked Republicans.  His antipathy is puzzling because unlike the “working Vermonters” he claims to represent, during the first sixteen years he lived in Vermont, Sanders never earned a living. According to his memoir and his previous online biography, during those years Sanders dabbled in politics, writing and filmmaking even though he had a family to support. Only the wealthy can afford such a luxury.

This, unfortunately, is how Sanders thinks and how he has always campaigned: He vilifies his opponents, slanders American capitalism, and demeans the American people. And Sanders brags that his views have remained rigidly unchanged since his college days nearly a half century ago.

Vermonters are wonderful people; they are people who have chosen a life that is simple, less frantic, and more humane than that of their big city and suburban cousins. They are generous, tolerant, educated–and liberal, in the best sense of that word.  Vermonters do not deserve such a malevolent and obdurate Senator.

Deborah T. Bucknam, Esq.

Law Offices of Deborah T. Bucknam & Associates, PC