Hillary Berns Sanders

Clinton takes aim at the Democratic Socialist front-runner and proves she is still the standard-bearer for establishment Democrats.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaking with attendees at the 2019 Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. August 9, 2019. (photo: Gage Skidmore)

“Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.”

“I will say, however, that it’s not only him, it’s the culture around him. It’s his leadership team. It’s his prominent supporters. It’s his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women.”

“And I really hope people are paying attention to that because it should be worrisome that he has permitted this culture- not only permitted, seems to really be very much supporting it.”

“And I don’t think we want to go down that road again where you campaign by insult and attack and maybe you try to get some distance from it, but you either don’t know what your campaign and supporters are doing or you’re just giving them a wink and you want them to go after Kamala or after Elizabeth.”

“I think that’s a pattern that people should take into account when they make their decisions.” — Hillary Clinton

Though the blistering assessment above might seem to be intended for one Donald Trump- that quintessential boogeyman of all liberal Democrats- Hillary Clinton actually said the above about Sen. Bernie Sanders in a recently aired interview with the Hollywood Reporter.

The former Secretary of State, former First Lady and 2008/2016 also-ran pulled no punches on Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. And when she was asked about supporting him in the general election if he proved to be the nominee, Clinton demurred.

For Sen. Sanders, the timing couldn’t be much worse.

After surviving a heart attack last year, Sanders and his campaign have only just recovered just enough momentum ahead of the Iowa caucus to cruise into the lead over Joe Biden.

Now, perhaps sensing his weakness in being dragged from the campaign trail into a lengthy Senate trial, Democrats in leadership are at last finding a strategy to defeat Bernie Sanders in the primary.

Until now, the Democratic establishment has been largely at a loss about how to stop Sanders from becoming the nominee, in spite of unanimous agreement that it must be done.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren gave Democrats and the mainstream media, long proponents of establishment Democrats, something to work with when she accused Sanders of saying a woman couldn’t win against Trump in 2020.

With the opportunity created by Warren, and her narrative of Bernie Sanders the sexist, the Democratic Party has unveiled a new strategy to take Bernie out of the race.

Unsurprisingly, it is also their old strategy for removing Bernie from the race: Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton is a Democrat, in case there was any doubt about that. She is at the center of a whole group of career Democrats. Now, whether they personally dislike Sanders- as Clinton attests- or whether their real problems with him stem from his determination to label himself and his policies as socialist is anyone’s guess.

Bernie Sanders is no Democrat. Why would Hillary Clinton like him?

Campaigning with Sanders is another darling of the liberal left with fewer and fewer friends in the Democratic Party proper, freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Ocasio-Cortez was backed by the Justice Democrats in 2018 and defeated a long-term incumbent in the upper echelons of Democratic House leadership in an upset. She has made no secret of her willingness to support other progressives who want to primary incumbent Democrats from the left. She has also withheld her dues from the Democratic Party and plans to go on doing so until they agree to do the same.

This a situation so unprecedented the party seems to be at a loss as to how to handle it.

In addition, Ocasio-Cortez has made much use of her large social media platform and dedicated online following…to lambast House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a racist and accuse other House Democrats of being on the take.

In a recent interview, Ocasio-Cortez made no secret of her disdain for Joe Biden saying they didn’t even belong in the same political party.

This is the self-avowed Democratic Socialist, much in the style of Bernie Sanders himself, who has not only endorsed Sanders but has said of possibly being named his vice presidential running mate that it would be “an honor”.

Is it any surprise that Democrats in leadership are looking in horror upon an electorate so whipped into a furious frenzy about Donald Trump that it would be willing to consign the Democratic Party over to people who want to dismantle and reassemble the entire American system?

Worse, Democratic Socialists like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez actually believe the government has the power or the ability to do that without much disruption of people’s lives.

It may even be more than a fear of being crushed by Donald Trump in the 2020 election that is driving establishment Democrats to take aim at Bernie Sanders. It may be more than a fear socialism will scare away so many would-be Democrats as to lose the Democratic majority in the House.

Socialism is especially unpopular in Latino immigrant communities, since many immigrants in those communities fled collapsed or collapsing socialist systems.

It may be that the Democratic Party fears taking the party in a sharp left-ward direction from which there may be no turning back. Socialist policies don’t have a great track record.

While Sanders may not have updated his talking points in decades, many of the Scandinavian and Nordic countries Sanders touts as socialist success stories have abandoned, in the years since adopting them, many of the programs and policy ideas espoused by Sanders.

Not only that, these countries didn’t become wealthy with socialist policies. They are capitalist countries who became wealthy through capitalism and expanded their social benefits programs with the proceeds.

Wealthy donors don’t like Sanders; nor do they have any love for Elizabeth Warren. Drinking from a mug labeled “billionaire tears” will do that for you. Some billionaires, and millionaires, pay more taxes in a single year than some people will pay in their entire lives.

Dyed-in-the-wool Democrats like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden don’t want to dismantle the American system and build a completely new one based on ideas no one is entirely sure will work.

Not when they have spent so many years building the one we have now. Which, in spite of not working for everyone, works well for a vast number of people and has for some time now.

It could be that Democratic leadership has decided it is time for Bernie to go. With Hillary not running in 2020, or likely again ever, she is a safe bet to go after Sanders. She doesn’t have to worry about blowback in the polls.

And with Sanders tied up in the Senate impeachment trial for the foreseeable future, without access to even a phone and forbidden to speak on pain of imprisonment regardless, Clinton doesn’t even have to worry much about him attacking back.

But with Sanders not around to defend himself, and Clinton making him sound even more sexist than Elizabeth Warren, it is hard to see this episode not damaging his chances.

Hillary Clinton still has a great many ears. Her opinion still holds sway over Democratic voters, though probably not as much as she would like.

These accusations of sexism, especially against “Bernie Bros”- as Sanders supporters are sometimes called- ring true for many women who had unpleasant experiences volunteering for the Sanders campaign. And many others who were politically active in 2016 for other candidates and experienced the nastiness of some Sanders supporters firsthand.

Clinton’s scathing assessment, coming as close as it does on the heels of Warren’s accusation against Sanders, isn’t likely to do him any favors.

With donors, in the polls, or with caucus voters in Iowa.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store