United States of America — Bernie Sanders recently appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation to discuss the 2016 presidential election and the fight between his campaign and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s. CBS host John Dickerson gave Sanders an opportunity to explain how he differs from Clinton.
He stated, “On the most important foreign policy issue in modern history, the war in Iraq, I voted against the war. I led the opposition against the war. On the other hand, Secretary Clinton voted for the war.”
Sanders also assured Dickerson that he is “confident” he will have “a strong team to provide great foreign policy for the people of the United States.”
The Vermont senator’s campaign has largely focused on corporate welfare and economic inequality, focusing little attention on the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Sanders did tell Face the Nation he believes the United States should not fight the wars alone, calling for a “coalition with major countries and with Muslim countries whose troops will be on the ground.”
“My main concern in terms of the Mideast is to make certain that the United States does not get involved in perpetual warfare in the quagmire of Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan,” he said. Sanders, however, has so far failed to comment on the fact that the United States government has been funding the same “terrorists” the West is now fighting. The U.S. government directly contributed to the rise of the group known as the Islamic State, also known as Daesh, in Syria. Until one of the presidential candidates is willing to acknowledge this fact — and vow to end the program — they are speaking only of superficial change.
John Dickerson also asked Senator Sanders how he felt about Hillary Clinton’s assertion that he lacks foreign policy experience. Sanders responded by noting that Hillary Clinton made the same claim about Barack Obama in 2008. “And it turned out not to be true,” Sanders said. “I am impressed by the quality of his foreign policy.”
Wait a minute. Did Bernie Sanders just say he was impressed with Obama’s foreign policy? Why would a man who claims to be against corporate welfare, and who advocates for equality and freedom, be impressed by such a disastrous foreign policy agenda? After all, large corporations stand to benefit by continuing the wars. President Obama not only continued many Bush era programs and policies — he expanded them.
Obama did not put an end to the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq. Rather, he helped spread the death and destruction to Libya and Syria. He wages ongoing drone bombings in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia, which often murder innocent people. Obama also operates the infamous “disposition matrix,” also known as the presidential kill list, and has allowed torture to continue during his administration in the form of force feeding at Guantanamo Bay.
Perhaps Sanders’s support for the president’s foreign policy is not surprising, especially considering that despite campaigning as anti-war, he supported Bill Clinton’s war in Kosovo. Further, he lobbied to obtain a chunk of the Pentagon’s ill-fated trillion dollar F-35 contract for his home state of Vermont, rejecting protests from progressive constituents while reinforcing the most foundational aspects of the military-industrial complex he criticizes.
John Dickerson gave Bernie Sanders an opportunity to criticize Obama on his foreign policy, or even the fact that he has also taken money from Wall Street banks. “Barack Obama received a lot of money from these same groups. Is he in the same fix as Hillary Clinton?” Dickerson asked. Bernie did not answer the question and instead focused on the system itself. “It is a corrupt — it is a corrupt campaign finance system.”
I absolutely agree that the political system itself is corrupt, which is why I disagree with Sanders that a “political revolution” is possible. Like the 2008 and 2012 Ron Paul campaigns, Senator Sanders may succeed in spreading ideas and planting seeds in the minds of the youth — albeit very different seeds than Ron Paul — but he will not succeed in winning the presidency if he is truly an outsider and feared by “the establishment.”
Perhaps this is a pessimistic view of the situation, but a study of American politics and the level of power and control exerted by various forms of State and corporate power simply prove a revolution via the presidential ballot box is impossible. I should make it clear I do not support Hillary or any Republican, or even any third-party candidates. Hillary’s statements on Face the Nation make it equally clear that she is either utterly inept and unaware of the crimes and failures of President Obama, or that she is just another lying politician. You decide.
“I really do resent the implication, or, as I said the other night, the insinuation. It would be like saying that President Obama, who took probably more money from Wall Street than any Democrat certainly had in 2008 with his successful campaign, was therefore automatically disqualified,” she said.
In my eyes, Obama, Clinton, Bush, Cruz, Sanders, Trump and Rubio are all part of the establishment — and should be ignored. However, many well-meaning individuals are looking to Sanders and Trump as “anti-establishment” candidates. We must remember that simply being against the establishment does not guarantee one’s ideas are worthy or functional.
If you are supporting Sanders or Trump because you believe their campaigns are helping propagate solutions you believe in, you must also be willing to criticize their actions when they do not align with their words. By questioning and challenging authority, as well as creating solutions based within our communities, we can effect change in ways that empower the people — rather than putting more energy into politicians who promise the impossible.
For more of my thoughts on this topic, please read 5 Questions for Bernie Sanders Supporters.