The Cult of Bernie: How Blind Adoration Has Masked One of America's Most Deceitful Presidential Campaigns
It takes time to earn one's trust.
For most people, there is an initial hesitation to trust someone they don't know. Whether it is a new friend, romantic partner, or someone who has married into the family, there is always an air of distrust upon that very first meeting. A lot of it is human nature. We let our guard down only after we have been exposed to someone after quite some time. It also stems from our nurturing as well. As children, we are advised not to talk to strangers. Through both nature and nurture, human beings emerge to become naturally distrusting creatures.
Yet, there are many of us who would like to buck this trend. We would like to live in a world where people were more trusting. A world where you could stop by your neighbor's home for a quick conversation and not have it be seen as an invasion of privacy. A world where you could take your children to the local park and engage in conversation with complete strangers while your child played just beyond your view. A world where you can take someone at his or her word and not be surprised when that person actually comes through. A world where you could meet someone at a bar and open up about your life and not be judged. A world where you could hear a stranger on television speak and know that person has a good, kind-hearted soul.
This election season, many people have wanted to trust Bernie Sanders.
They have wanted to trust him because he seems genuine. Like a happy grandfather who would sit in a rocking chair and would bounce a grandchild on his knee. Both people and Oregon birds have flocked to Bernie Sanders because to them he seems genuine, like somebody who might very well be a member of their own family. His Brooklyn accent has become endearing. His hand gestures amusing. His awkwardly forced smile has simply become part of his well-likeable persona. In short, people have come to trust the Bernie Sanders they see on TV based on nothing more than an inherent desire to like him.
Yet the true Bernie Sanders is proving himself to be one of the most deceitful and dishonest presidential candidates we've ever had.
And the media is to blame. They needed a horse race and to do that they chose not to vet Bernie Sanders to keep up his likeable image. They embraced him when he appeared on Saturday Night Live. They covered his record-breaking rallies, failing to mention that these rallies took place in college towns with thousands of impressionable first-time voters. They brushed off any missteps by the campaign with an aw-shucks mentality. They created narratives that favored the campaign and adjusted the expectations for each primary or caucus accordingly. They hyped up his wins and downplayed his losses. They gave him softball interview questions on the Sunday morning shows. They did all this while ignoring the fact that Hillary Clinton has never trailed in the Democratic primary and that she has built up a lead that has been greater than Barack Obama's ever was during the 2008 primary. The media did all this in an effort to protect Bernie Sanders and to present the illusion that he was a viable candidate for president.
But the truth hurts. Bernie Sanders' campaign has been malicious. Despite promising to run a clean campaign, it has been one of the dirtiest and most deceitful campaigns our country has ever seen. The evidence has been right there all along, but our media has been complacent in pretending that it has not been happening. Just look at where the Sanders campaign is now. Sanders constantly attacks Clinton from Wall Street to big banks to her Goldman Sachs transcripts to her campaign contributions. Not a day goes by where Sanders isn't doing the bidding for Karl Rove. In fact, it's gotten to be such a part of the culture of his campaign that Sanders is now attacking Clinton based on things he thinks might be true. We saw this with his recent claim that Hillary Clinton was "not qualified" to be president, which was based on his errant interpretation of a Washington Post article for which he simply skimmed the headline and nothing more. By this point, practically nothing is off limits.
In fact, Sanders saw how attacks worked well against Hillary Clinton, so he now feels empowered to attack anyone he feels has wronged his campaign. This has started with the Democratic National Committee, the group that provided Sanders with the much-needed media exposure that he claimed was only possible by running as a Democratic candidate for president. Yet Sanders has in no way been a grateful house guest under the DNC's roof. In addition to refusing to raise money for down-ballot Democratic candidates, Sanders has also chosen to sue the DNC after he had the gall to try and steal voter information from the DNC's online database. Sanders has also constantly whined about the debate schedule going so far as to demand that the DNC not even be part of the upcoming debate in New York City. Sanders has done all this despite the DNC having made his entire campaign possible by providing him with access to media and debates that he wouldn't have had as a third party candidate.
Unfortunately for the DNC, the data breach wasn't the only time that the Sanders campaign tried to cheat to gain an advantage ahead of time. Before the New Hampshire primary, Sanders lied about receiving endorsements from two New Hampshire newspapers. Before the Nevada caucus, several Sanders campaign staff were caught pretending to be union members in an effort to sway Nevada's largest union. Shortly after that, Sanders was again caught lying about an endorsement, this time from a Nevada DREAMer. Before the South Carolina primary a woman named Ashley Williams confronted Hillary Clinton about her support of the 1994 Crime Bill. Williams, a #BlackLivesMatter activist, had previously posted pictures of herself with Cornel West, a Bernie Sanders supporter and surrogate. Sanders has also been caught using the League of Conservation Voters logo, a group that openly endorsed Hillary Clinton. And, just this past weekend ahead of the New York primary, Bernie Sanders claimed he was invited by the Pope to visit the Holy See in an effort to appeal to New York Catholic voters. However, it has recently been revealed that the Pope did not invite Sanders and that His Holiness would not even be at the Vatican during the time Sanders would be in attendance.
For some reason, Bernie Sanders feels entitled to be the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party and feels that everyone should support him. Maybe it's because he's a White male from a rural state. Maybe it's because he feels people should choose him over a woman. If for whatever reason people choose not to support Sanders, they then become part of what Sanders has termed the dreaded "establishment" of Washington, D.C. This has led to Sanders vilifying any group or individual who doesn't endorse him and his zealous supporters have taken it upon themselves to then go and attack those individuals or groups. We've seen online hoards of Bernie Sanders supporters attack anyone from civil rights icons John Lewis and Dolores Huerta to "establishment" organizations such as Planned Parenthood and The Human Rights Campaign to even creating "hit lists" for superdelegates and typical run-of-the-mill Twitter users who just happen to support Hillary Clinton. And if you've ever wondered what it's like to be behind the scenes at a drunken frat house, feel free to peruse the comments on any article that positively shines a light on Hillary Clinton as the colorful terms Sanders supporters use to describe her would infuriate every single person who views women as human beings.
Despite Sanders insisting that "we don't want that crap" in February, he has been oddly silent these past two months and for good reason. The Sanders campaign has admittedly taken an approach where they will be targeting superdelegates to convince them to vote for Sanders. Sanders is perfectly okay with this type of harassment because it plays right into his campaign strategy. Like Donald Trump, Sanders feeds off the energy of his supporters, and in many regards, has become just like them. It helps him to play up his media narrative of being the candidate who will help millions of millions of young people rise up and overthrow the millionaire class. The only way to get young, politically apathetic people to rise up is to get them angry. Sanders is attempting doing this through his brand of economic populism and if a few bad apples just happen to get too fired up and say a few offensive things, well that's only because they are just so passionate about their cause.
But Sanders' campaign strategy itself has become morally bankrupt. Recall that Sanders is running on a platform of campaign finance reform in the belief that big money in politics tends to corrupt politicians. How unique then that Sanders and his campaign and raising record levels of funds and are struggling to properly deal with this newfound influx of cash. Already the campaign has had to answer to multiple FEC notices accusing his campaign of having excessive individual contributions as well as having illegal foreign donations. In addition, there exists a mystery $10 million donation from an undisclosed Washington, D.C. address. Either 370,000 Washingtonians are getting together and sending $27 each or Sanders and his team are receiving money from some sort of corporation or super PAC. Regardless of where the money is coming from, it is being spent, and that has especially helped Sanders' political advisor, Tad Devine, whose consulting firm is raking in a cool $810,000 a month, based on FEC filings. With all these financial issues and millions of dollars to spare, maybe Bernie Sanders should hire someone to help out with his books in addition to helping out with his taxes.
But all kidding aside, the Sanders campaign is no joke. At least, that's what the campaign keeps insisting. Because in order to keep bringing in record hauls and paying your friends, you need to convince your supporters you still have a path to the nomination. And this is what the Sanders team continues to do despite there being virtually no chance of that happening. Sanders won't tell his supporters that Clinton is locked in and that Super Tuesday gave her a larger delegate lead than Obama ever had in 2008. With upcoming closed primaries in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and Connecticut it appears that the Sanders campaign is likely to lose all five thus falling further and further behind. Despite all those silly facts, Sanders has recently stated that his campaign has an "excellent chance" in New York and he has stated that people who don't think he can win in Pennsylvania simply aren't "plugged in" to what is really going on. At this point, Sanders supporters have become plugged in the way people in The Matrix were plugged in: they're simply in their own manufactured world that is infinitely more pleasing than the world as it actually exists.
Despite all of this, Bernie Sanders will continue to be trusted by his supporters, who at this point have failed to see through their anointed messiah's halo. They applaud his attacks of Hillary Clinton and see them as perfectly justifiable. They dismiss his campaign tactics as harmless and just a simple misunderstanding or five. They claim that those who attack people online are merely a small percentage and that they don't really mean it. They aren't concerned about a few million unaccounted for dollars or that the campaign is helping to create a handful of millionaires within its ranks. And they certainly believe that their chosen candidate will win the nomination no matter what. They trust that it will happen.
And nothing Bernie Sanders could ever say or do would violate that trust.
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