Bernie Sanders shows class as he defends Hillary Clinton even as he points out differences
Bernie Sanders showed a lot of class on Face The Nation when given the opportunity to go negative on Hillary Clinton. In fact he used the first part of his answer to provide a full throated defense of her.
Face the Nation moderator John Dickerson asked Bernie Sanders if people linking Hillary Clinton’s email issues with her trustworthiness were justified. “This is what I think,” Bernie Sanders replied. “I think for a variety of reasons Hillary Clinton has been under all kinds of attack for many many years. In fact I can’t think of many personalities who have been attacked for more reasons than Hillary Clinton. And by the way, let me be frank and I am running against her. Some of it is sexist. I don’t know that a man would be treated the same way that Hillary is. So all that I can say is I have known Hillary Clinton for twenty five years. I admire her. I respect her. I like her. She and I have very different points of view on a number of issues. We have differences of opinion on the Trans Pacific Partnership. We have differences on Keystone Pipeline. She voted for the war in Iraq. I helped lead the opposition against it. She voted for the Patriot Act. I voted against it. I think we have to take on the billionaire class and Wall Street.”
Dickerson then played Donald Trump making the case that Hillary Clinton, Scott Walker, and Jeb Bush would be controlled by their billionaire donors. Trump implies he would not be influenced because he is not funded by them. John Dickerson then asked Bernie if Donald Trump is correct.
Bernie Sanders pivoted the question into the bigger problem of Citizens United where virtually unlimited money was allowed into our elections by effectively defining money as speech. He should have mentioned the McCutcheon case as well. He then made it real. “Do I think that the people who make these contributions, huge contributions make it out of the goodness of their heart or do they want something?” Bernie Sanders said. “Of course they want something. The problem is it is easy for Trump to say I don’t need their money Yeah, because he is a billionaire. The logical consequence is that the only people who can run for office in America, who don’t have to curry favor are billionaires themselves. I am trying another way. We have gotten well over three hundred thousand people who have made individual contributions. You know what the average contribution is? Thirty one bucks. We are running a people oriented campaign. Can we actually prevail over a billionaire or the billionaire class? Time will tell. I think we can.”
There are two important takeaways from this interview. This first is something Bernie Sanders’ supporters must emulate. It is not necessary to disparage an opponent to point out sharp contrasts and differences. The added benefit is that it keeps one’s favorability numbers high. Second, it will take a peoples movement to educate in order to make money moot. If that is done then the election is really wide open to allow someone with real ideas to prevail.