How quickly things move! Around the time I sent out the preceding post, a politically-motivated madman named James Hodgkinson opened fire on congressmen in a public park, severely wounding Republican Congressman Steve Scalise
, along with four others, before being shot to death himself.
In normal times, such an event would dominate the news cycle for a week or more. Yet before day's end, many people had switched their attention to the news that Mueller was investigating Trump for obstruction of justice. The special counsel is also looking into Trump's shady finances
. Oh, this
should be good.
From the standpoint of hundred-years-hence history, yesterday's Trump bombshell will no doubt be considered the more significant development. Still, let us not be too quick to ignore the atrocity in that Virginia park. When the world learned that Hodgkinson was a die-hard Bernie-or-buster who hated both Trump and Clinton, we heard a very predictable set of reactions:
1. Moderate television pundits decried the partisan acrimony which has divided this country.
2. Reactionary propagandists argued that investigations of Donald Trump triggered this event. (Example
.) For the right, moderation of speech is something that only Democrats
must practice. The right may, of course, continue to indulge in exterminationist speech, as it has done for decades.
3. As always happens after a massacre, rightists speak as though such acts are characteristically perpetrated by liberals. You may recall that the right pretended that James Holmes, the "Dark Knight" killer, was somehow connected to the Occupy Wall Street movement. (He wasn't.) From Timothy McVeigh to Jeremy Joseph Christian (another Hillary-hating fan of Bernie,
incidentally), most political killers enter from stage right.
4. Since the shooter was an anti-Trumper, much of the news coverage refused to differentiate between the BernieBots and Democrats. The two groups are no
t the same.
5. Bernie Sanders offered a pro-forma denunciation of violence.
Most of the left has accepted this statement at face value. Most people would be appalled by the suggestion that Bernie Sanders bears personal responsibility for this outrage.
I think he does.
As most of you know, I offered Sanders positive coverage when he began his campaign. (I was also quite disenchanted with Hillary.) Although I still support many of the things that the "Feel the Bern" crowd claims to stand for, I turned against the Sanders movement when I saw that it had degenerated into the worst kind of political cult. The followers of that cult became the mirror image of the Trumpers: Intolerant, intemperate, rabid, unthinking, rage-filled, ill-informed, deceptive, mendacious and simply vile.
It was clear to me that Sanders' purpose was not to win the election (he would have lost all 50 states, including Vermont
) or even the nomination. Wittingly or otherwise, he was part of a classic Roger Stone-ian conspiracy to split the party, and to drive the Democrats so far to the left that the party would have no appeal to purple states or purple counties.
Some of his loudest, most obnoxious supporters on YouTube became (or perhaps always were) Trump operatives -- see, for example, Cassandra Fairbanks
, as shifty as she is curvy. Russia supported Bernie
, just as it supported Trump. After laudably stating that "nobody cares" about the pseudo-scandal involving Hillary's emails, Sanders began to spread the Big Lie as viciously as any Republican.
Sanders showed his true colors when he hired Tad Devine
, a stenchy operative previously best known for his work on behalf of a Putin-linked politician who had literally poisoned
his opponent. (Devine also worked for Ehud Barak and Monsanto. Imagine the outcry if Hillary had hired such a creature!) Bernie's refusal to release his taxes was every bit as suspect as Trump's refusal to release his
The BernieBot troll army inundated left-wing sites with smears and slanders against Hillary Clinton and all other perceived enemies. The Bots obtained Hillary's voter data in an underhanded fashion, no doubt with the aid of Russia. Sanders surged by gaming caucuses, which are inherently much less democratic than primaries. The Michigan primary vote was, in my opinion, transparently fraudulent. The FEC accused the Bernie Sanders campaign of financial impropriet
Sanders personally benefited from this corruption
Throughout the Democratic primary, the Sanders campaign was cited for FEC violations on three separate occasions including a mysterious $10 million donation from a single address in Washington, DC. Despite consistent calls for financial transparency on the campaign trail, the Sanders campaign was exceedingly secretive when it came to its own finances. After twice filing for extensions from the FEC, the Sanders campaign ultimately decided to forgo its final financial disclosure statement in June citing the fact that campaign was no longer active. This decision was accompanied by the news that Sanders himself had purchased a $575,000 home in August, much to the dismay of his loyal followers. The home would be the third residence for Sanders, someone who railed against a system that increasingly favored the millionaires and billionaires of our country.
Yet these financial gains for both Devine and Sanders would never have been possible had it not been for the millions of campaign contributions that came their way. And the only way to get campaign contributions is to convince your supporters you might actually have a chance to win. Luckily for Devine and Sanders, they had some foreign friends who were willing to step in. As reported by Rachel Maddow late on Tuesday, there existed an army of Russian bots who were weaponized to influence our election. Many of them took to various social media sites to discredit and disrupt Hillary Clinton's campaign and thus, energize potential Bernie Sanders supporters. Knowing that Clinton had been a target of right-wing media smears for a quarter-century, all the bots had to do was plant this seed to potential Sanders supporters, many of whom had no experience in politics, to get them onboard with the Sanders campaign. By doing this, Sanders and Devine were able to successfully pocket millions of dollars all while pretending to be champions of the common man.
Bernie's eventual pro-forma endorsement of Hillary was simply a tactic by which he could continue to foist his despicable cult of personality on a party that desperately needs to appeal to moderates in order to win back the House in 2018. If not for Bernie, a Democratic victory in 2018 would seem quite possible, perhaps likely. The Bernie Factor makes such an outcome nearly impossible.
What I find hardest to forgive is the fact that Bernie Sanders transformed a political campaign into a political cult
. Just as Bernie Sanders himself is personally disliked in DC, the BernieBullies soon became loathed by Democrats, by moderates, by anyone outside the sect.
Bernie Sanders has never denounced scuzzy operatives like Cassandra Fairbanks and the notorious H.A. Goodman. At no point did he ever do anything to dissuade the BernieBros from erecting a cult of personality. At no point did he denounce the innumerable fake news stories that flooded Bernieland. At no point has Bernie Sanders denounced the bizarre and intemperate statements made by his followers online.
Except when circumstances absolutely require him to do so, Bernie Sanders refuses to behave like a statesman. He does not advocate moderation or concession or cooperation or compromise. Instead, he keeps goading his cultists into a frenzy.
During the campaign, Nevada campaign chair Roberta Lange committed the "sin" of not allowing the Bernie cultists to break the agreed-upon rules. They wanted to rig the system; she would not allow it. As a result, Bernie's army of fanatics
barraged her with messages like these:
Lange's voicemail included a number of death threats. Berniebots sent her images of guillotines and other implements of death. What they inflicted upon her and her family was nothing less than terrorism.
After the BernieBros lapsed into violence in Vegas
, Sanders refused to apologize to Lange. The man was a complete coward who could not accept responsibility for the behavior of his crazed acolytes. He has never offered even the slightest criticism of his followers, no matter how bad their behavior. He has steadfastly refused to address the issue of Russian involvement in his own campaign, just as he refuses to discuss the irregularities of his finances.
Displaying a positively Trumpian aversion to self-doubt and self-criticism
, Bernie Sanders kept whipping up hatred, primarily hatred of the Democratic party. His disciples became so warped that they lost their humanity.
Do you think that Roberta Lange was even slightly surprised to learn that yesterday's shootings were the work of a BernieBro?
Bernie Sanders created James Hodgkinson. Bernie Sanders is every bit as responsible as Hodgkinson is for the bullets that were fired yesterday.
Suppose someone living down the street were to give a dog rabies deliberately and then let the creature loose in your neighborhood. If the dog kills someone in your family, which party deserves your blame? You can't blame the animal: It was diseased. You blame the fool who created such a dangerous situation.
I hold Bernie Sanders personally responsible the shooting of Representative Scalise and four others. I also hold Sanders at least partially responsible for the murders committed by Jeremy Joseph Christian.
Not only that. I consider the late James Hodgkinson and Jeremy Christian to be (in a sense) the victims of Bernie Sanders, just as I consider Patricia Krenwinkle and Susan Atkins to be (in a sense) the victims of Charles Manson. Although a cult follower who commits an act of violence cannot escape personal culpability, the leader of that cult bears the ultimate