Bernie Sanders is NOT the Enemy

Update: I have recently published an article covering Bernie’s more recent actions and would like to clarify that his comments on the White Helmets and James Comey were enough to change my opinion.

Bernie Sanders recently gave an interview with AJ+ about his recent decision to sign onto a letter from the senate to the UN criticizing their “mistreatment” of Israel and condemning the nonviolent resistance group “BDS”. In this interview he made some highly controversial statements regarding his stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and he has been receiving harsh criticism in progressive groups throughout the internet. While Bernie’s statements are most certainly disappointing as Israel is definitely guilty of numerous human rights violations, he has not suddenly become a neocon sheepdog who is not worthy of progressive support. Bernie has had a shaky stance on this issue and it has been his weakest point dating back several years, but he has been honest with his feelings on the issue, as misguided as they may be. To criticize Bernie and say he is no longer supportable because of one issue is arguably one of the most ridiculous things I have seen from his supporters to date. If we want to have a successful movement and not wind up on the fringe, it is vital that we learn to accept leaders for both their positive aspects and their negatives.

Bernie’s worst aspects are nearly all concerning foreign policy, but despite this he has made several key decisions in the past that elevate him beyond the level of your typical American politician. His vote against the Iraq war has been his sounding resolve and key talking point regarding the Middle East and how we need to end our reign of terror as the world’s police. Despite this, he has held some controversial opinions on the region and made some questionable votes. He has voted numerous times to authorize spending for wars, including Iraq, and even voted for the funding of the disastrous F-35 fighter jet, but he has had his reasons for doing so. Bernie has a high regard for our troops and veterans, and he has made it very clear that if our troops are going to go to war we may as well support them while they’re overseas and reward them when they come home. Among the controversy and his lack of experience, Bernie has always held the stance of wanting to cut military spending, ending unnecessary wars, and reinvesting our expenditures here at home on programs such as Medicare for All and Free Public College. He is not perfect, but his heart is in the right place.

Bernie is of Jewish heritage and had family who personally suffered and died during the holocaust, and his stance on Israel is going to be skewed by nature. He believes that the Jewish community is entitled to their ancient homeland, free of persecution in a region that has been trying to wipe them off the face of the Earth since their founding in 1947. Despite this, he has still been an advocate for a two-state solution and a critic of our policy towards Israel who receives billions in foreign aid to spend on not only their military, but programs such as Universal Healthcare. I am not trying to justify his stances, but I am simply confused as to how this single issue could disqualify him from being a progressive icon. He has held this stance long before most of his supporters had even heard his name, so if you have become suddenly enraged over this, you have not done enough research on the man’s history.

We do not have the luxury of alienating our movement’s leadership over single issues, when at the core they are bringing policies such as Universal Healthcare, Free Public College, and a $15 Living Wage onto the national stage. I discussed some of Bernie’s flaws in my previous article, but no matter what ideology you may hold, you cannot deny how successful Bernie has been in his mission as he has become the most popular politician in the country. He is blazing the trail for future progressive icons such as Tulsi Gabbard, Nina Turner, Samuel Ronan, Tim Canova, and others to be able to thrive on the national stage. What Bernie lacks, his surrogates make up for, such as Tulsi who is arguably the greatest foreign policy expert in the country who currently holds elected office. Bernie is not a neocon, he is not a sheepdog, and he is not a sellout. Bernie Sanders is and always has been a voice for the working people of this country and he will continue to be for the rest of his political career.

While Bernie’s statements concerning Israel are disappointing and misguided, he is still a vital piece to our movement. If you cannot move past his stance on this single issue, you can enjoy your life on the fringes as nobody will ever be able to pass your purity tests. If you want to make a difference on this issue, which is still deserving of plenty of constructive criticism, I highly advise that you either write Bernie or call his senate office at (202) 224–5141. While Tulsi Gabbard is clearly a stronger potential candidate in my opinion, we cannot throw Bernie to the side when we need all the support we can get in our fight against the American corporate plutocracy.

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