Bernie 2020 FAFN Page (Frequently-Asserted False Narratives).
Bernie’s campaign is almost entirely about leveling our society’s playing field so that people who aren’t in the highest income brackets can enjoy equal access to health care and education. Society as a whole, does better when everyone has an opportunity to achieve their full potential and contribute their best potential abilities to our economy. Everyone does better when everyone does better.
Unfortunately we’ve drifted away from that ideal over the past few decades and public policies have now been molded to favor the wealthy with low taxes and, often, subsidies for economic activities that have many negative side effects. Thus, wealthy special interests stand to lose a lot if Bernie becomes president and their attacks, through corporate media, are predictable. Their goal is, as with many public relations campaigns, to create “fear, uncertainty and doubt” (“FUD”) about Senator Sanders and either convince people to vote for someone else or not to vote at all.
( “Wealth Inequality in America” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM)
It’s important to understand that even though such narratives are often framed as questions — as if they were part of a sincere dialog — because the questions are based on misleading frames and the questions have already been answered many times before, they are really attacks designed to create and reinforce (false) “perceptions” instead of reveal the truth. That’s how soft-power works: Disinformation is used to get people to do things that are in the best interests of those in power, not things that are in their own best interests.
This “FAFN” page is a catalog of the more common messages coming from these wealthy special interests and brief, high-level refutations of each, with links to more detailed information, where appropriate. We hope it is useful to you in sifting through disinformation for your own research as well as for better informing people you may have discussions with either online or in real life.
Without further ado, our list of “Frequently-Asserted False Narratives” about Bernie Sanders:
- Bernie is not a Democrat … Of all the candidates running in the Democratic primary, Bernie most closely exemplifies the best ideals of the Democratic party as they were expressed by the Presidents Roosevelt — Franklin Delano (FDR) and Theodore (“Teddy”). Unlike some other candidates, Bernie can be completely trusted not to put Social Security or Medicare on the negotiating table for cuts. Many of us feel Bernie represents the soul of the Democratic party — a party full of compassion for the less fortunate, an abiding desire for peace and prosperity in the world and a passion for justice in all aspects of life. Bernie has done the Democratic party an enormous favor by running as a Democrat instead of running as an Independent or 3rd party candidate. He may also be giving the Democratic party its best chance to win back the White House in 2020.
- Bernie is too radical… Bernie can seem too radical in comparison to other candidates who have failed to remain in touch with what Americans really want. It’s as if all the candidates lined up on a stage and the moderator asked, “We’re looking for a volunteer President to step forward who’ll give Americans what polls show they really want” and everybody but Bernie took a giant step backwards leaving Bernie as the de facto volunteer.
Many polls are telling us that Americans are much more progressive than our semi-manufactured perceptions would have us believe. In truth, it’s wrong to call Bernie’s contenders in the Democratic party “centrists”. They are now part of the right wing. Using public opinion as our guide, Bernie is more properly considered a centrist now. (https://medium.com/@martinbishop_13070/the-new-progressive-american-majority-2020-is-not-your-grandpas-fake-centrist-election-1cd5189b18a4)
- Bernie is a Communist … No, Bernie is a Democratic Socialist, meaning that he supports strong social safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare — the kinds of programs that have put several Scandinavian countries in the top ten countries in the world with quality-of-life ranking studies such as the famous “Where to be born?” series. It has nothing to do with authoritarianism or fascism— the defining evils of Soviet and Nazi regimes that were “socialist” in name only. The USA has had social programs for many decades — roads, postal service, armed forces, fire and police departments, public schools, social security, medicare, medicaid and so on. These programs are what have made America great in the past and they are what will make America great again. The current Trump administration is the most fascist presidency America has ever had (https://medium.com/@martinbishop_13070/mein-trumpf-donald-and-the-14-point-definition-of-fascism-or-it-has-happened-here-1f5ab51227ab )
- Bernie is a Socialist … If “Democratic Socialist” is too much of a mouthful, fine. Whatevs. If you actually Google “Socialism” (as many inquisitive millennials do because they like to be sure what words actually mean) you’ll find that socialism just means any system of government that isn’t, well, antisocial. And nobody wants to be antisocial, right? Ebenezer Scrooge became a reformed antisocialist. He’d previously been a free-market enthusiast. Eventually he came to understand that the free market’s grinding poverty prevents too many people from achieving their full potential and contributing their best gifts to society. If you still have a problem with the word “socialist”, just mentally substitute the word “Christmas” or “sharing” in your mind every time you hear it. Seriously, the word “socialism” isn’t the automatic fear-trigger is used to be in the Soviet era and people today, especially millennials, know how to keep their neo-cortexes functioning while discussing the topic.
- Bernie is Putin’s choice for the Democratic nominee because he wants the candidate who’ll be easiest for Trump to beat… Most polls are showing that Sanders is just as strong, if not stronger, against Trump than any other Democratic candidate, especially among crucial Independent swing voters. So, either Putin is dumb or he wants Trump to lose or #Russiagate 2.0 is hogwash. (https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/02/11/sanders-crushes-trump-18-points-among-independent-voters-new-national-general )
- Bernie-Bros say some not very nice things sometimes… It is difficult to measure and quantify these allegations. Are Bernie supporters really more likely to use hostile language than other candidates’ supporters? Those of us who spend a good deal of time on Twitter have seen appalling examples of supporters of almost all of the candidates. The few exceptions are generally candidates who have such a small following that their supporters are rare and mostly resigned to their candidate’s “also-ran” status anyway. Contrary to the related charge that “Bernie isn’t doing enough to rein in his supporters” he has denounced hostile tactics and told “bros” that they’re not wanted in his campaign. What more can he do?
- Bernie won’t release his medical records… Bernie has released letters from three doctors on 12/30/2019. The consensus is “ he’s healthy, able to campaign without restriction and fit to serve as president.” You can see Bernie’s energy and stamina in his presence at campaign rallies and his demanding schedule as both a candidate for president and a U.S. Senator.
- Bernie is too old… That’s an ageist attitude. It’s not about age. It’s about health and ability. I think there are many 30 year-olds who’d have a truly difficult time keeping up with Sanders on the campaign trail.
- Bernie can’t win the Democratic nomination… As of 24 Feb 2020, Real Clear Politics shows Bernie has the best odds of winning the Democratic nomination:
- Bernie can’t beat Trump… As of 24 Feb 2020, the latest Roanoke polls show Bernie with the highest national victory margin over Trump (9%) of any Democratic candidate.
- Bernie can’t win in key “rust-belt” states… Rust-belt voters want jobs. Clinton lost them in 2016 because her State Dept. crafted the job-killing TPP trade deal and the voters knew she supported it even though she kept a low profile about it during the election season. Trump was clearly anti-TPP and picked up enough votes to win because of that. Now, in 2020, we have the job-killing USMCA trade deal which Trump favors and Bernie opposes. This gives the pro-jobs advantage to Bernie in these states because most (all?) of the other Democratic candidates, like Trump, favor the USMCA trade deal.
- Bernie can’t get things done… Not so. Bernie is “The Amendment King”. Also, since the below article was written in 2016, Bernie has reshaped the American political landscape to a degree never imagined by establishment pundits. #MedicareForAll is now a mainstream talking point. Every Dem candidate is obliged to offer some form of it (even if watered down). And that’s no small accomplishment.
Also see “A Few of Bernie’s Accomplishments” graphic in the end-notes.
- Bernie won’t get things done (Congress won’t pass his bills)… He knows this and he’s said as much. His point is these are big changes — too big for any one person to push through. That’s why the campaign slogan is #NotMeUs — because it’s going to take all of us working together not just to elect Bernie, but to elect Senators and Congresspeople who will support and pass the needed bills. Even if we don’t succeed in getting progressive majorities in both houses, we’d be better off with a President who can at least veto bad legislation when it comes to his desk instead of gleefully signing it.
- Bernie once wrote about rape fantasies in 1972… Donald Trump has been accused of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment by at least 23 women since the 1980’s (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump_sexual_misconduct_allegations)
Michael Bloomberg is known for toxic misogynistic comments in the workplace as well as a large number of settled lawsuits with non-disclosure agreements preventing plaintiffs from discussing the incidents that prompted their lawsuits. (http://archive.is/8zT4k)
But if you want to know more about the foolishly sensationalized article Bernie wrote for an alternative newspaper 48 years ago that used rape fantasies to illustrate dysfunctional gender roles and attitudes in our culture back in 1972, knock yourself out: (https://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/05/29/410606045/the-bernie-sanders-rape-fantasy-essay-explained
- How will we pay for that (free stuff)?… The #MedicareForAll part is easy — we’re already paying 50% more than #MedicareForAll would cost for the status quo health care system. Other programs are paid for by a minuscule tax on Wall Street speculation and reductions in military wasteful spending. The assertion that Sanders never explains how he’s going to pay for these programs is false. He has explained it many times. Here are the details: (https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/02/25/how-does-bernie-pay-his-major-plans-sanders-campaign-releases-detailed-answer)
- Bernie is going to raise my taxes… You have to look at your current COMBINED cost of taxes and health care when considering if you’ll be better or worse off under the #MedicareForAll plan. The vast majority of people will enjoy substantial savings because we’ll no longer have to pay health insurance premiums, deductibles, co-pays or prescription drug prices. The costs of #MedicareForAll are primarily borne by high-income individuals (aka “The 1%”) earning well into six figures per year. Here’s an online calculator to help you estimate your net savings under Bernie’s #MedicareForAll plan: (https://bernietax.com/)
- Bernie once said something good about Fidel Castro… Sometimes a good cigar is just a good cigar. It’s true. Sometimes bad authoritarian dictators do good things like literacy programs and medical care. At the foundation of good diplomacy is the ability to see some good in one’s opponents — some speck of common ground to build on and, perhaps, reform. We can’t continue just dividing the world into two kinds of countries — countries we bomb and countries we don’t bomb. Some nuance is called for.
“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained.” — Alexander Solzhenitsyn
To be specific, Bernie commented that Castro’s literacy program in Cuba was a benefit to that country. Politifact rates that claim as “Mostly True” (https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/feb/24/bernie-sanders/sanders-correct-cuba-literacy-campaign-skimps-prop/)
- Bernie once said something good about the Sandinistas in Nicaragua… The Sandinistas in Nicaragua were a popular uprising against U.S. imperialism in the “Banana Republic” era which General Smedley Butler described so well in his book “War is a Racket”. If you don’t know why to thank General Butler that the U.S. didn’t fall to fascism in 1934, you have some homework to do. Suffice it to say the U.S. has a checkered (at best) history in South and Central America when it comes to propping up authoritarian regimes friendly to U.S. business interests and violently suppressing popular uprisings against them and even toppling popular governments that managed to win elections. This record continued through the Reagan years with the Iran-Contra scandal, mining of harbors and on to the present day with the U.S. trying to install Juan Guaido in Venezuela. One shouldn’t take our mass media’s declarations about which countries or leaders are “bad” or “good” at face value. John Perkins’ “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” is an excellent book to begin understanding the dynamics and complexities of geopolitics in the Western hemisphere. In any case, Bernie is consistently on the side of the people whether it’s the 99% in the USA or the 99% in other nations. He has a global vision of equality and prosperity.
- Bernie’s Gun Control goals are too strong or not strong enough… Coming from the rural state of Vermont, Bernie has represented a constituency where hunting and self-defense have made gun rights very important to voters. Even so, Bernie has long had a D- voting record from the NRA. He’s for Universal background checks, closing gun show loopholes and banning the sale and distribution of assault weapons. Overall, it’s a nuanced position that, maybe, makes it “just right” for America in 2020. (https://feelthebern.org/bernie-sanders-on-gun-policy/)
- Democratic Socialism only works in Scandinavia because they have a homogeneous population… Put simply, this view is racist because it asserts the high quality-of-life enjoyed by most Scandinavian citizens is only possible because they’re almost all white people. A number of developed countries with single-payer public health (one of the main drivers of quality-of-life) are more racially diverse.
- Bernie is a Jew… Okay, you might not actually meet anyone who would openly admit that this is among the reasons they would not vote for Sanders, but, like racism, antisemitism can continue in an invisible or dormant stage long after overt statements and actions have ceased, only to re-emerge later at a time of stress or hostility. Some people might say Bernie’s too old, but not have the same criticism of Biden or Bloomberg who are the same age. When the stated reasons aren’t consistently applied across all candidates, it may be an attempt to hide an unstated reason, such as antisemitism.
- Bernie is like Trump… No. Just No. Don’t even.
Didn’t see your Frequently-Asserted-False-Narrative here? Tweet me @MartinTruther with your suggestions to add to this list/article!
Thank you for reading! I hope you find this list useful and constructive as a tool for interacting with people who have fears, uncertainties and doubts (FUD) about a Sanders presidency.
Remember, always be kind to people, even when they disagree. Listen fully and respectfully to everyone. Often, if you can show someone that they’re truly being heard, even if you disagree, it goes a LONG way to building mutual understanding and trust. That can be enough to keep them interacting on the conceptual (neo-cortex) level (which is hopeful) instead of resorting to fight-or-flight lymbic brain level responses (which usually leads nowhere good).
Finally, avoid presenting your views as objective truth. Use “I-statements” as discussed in NVC (Non-Violent Communication) literature. Phrases like “In my view” (a favorite of Bernie’s), “As I understand it”, “according to <a source or a poll>” are generally less threatening to people. People can be very sensitive about new information if it doesn’t conform to their present world-view. It is not your job to convince anyone or get them to say they agree with you. If you’ve heard them and they’ve heard you, thank them for their time and trust they will give your conversation some thought on their own and come to their own conclusion that’s right for them at this point in their lives.
Working together, we can change the world!
P.S. The author, Martin Bishop (aka Martin Truther) is NOT a “Bernie surrogate” or officially part of the Bernie Sanders campaign at this time (2/26/2020) in any way, shape or form. I do not represent the campaign and this content was NOT approved by the Bernie Sanders campaign.