On Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the 2016 runner-up in the Democratic primary and a candidate for the 2020 election, drew a line in the sand on a wide array of political issues, and then blamed President Donald Trump for dividing Americans. Sanders may have been drawing a contrast between himself and less socialist Democrats, but he also seemed oblivious to the divisive nature of his rhetoric while also blaming Trump for division.
“There is a debate among presidential candidates who have spoken to you in this room — and those who have chosen for whatever reason not to be in this room — about the best way forward,” Sanders declared at the California Democratic convention. This seemed a dig at former Vice President Joe Biden, who did not attend the convention.
“We cannot go back to the old ways,” Sanders warned. “We have got to go forward with a new progressive agenda.” That agenda cannot involve anything remotely resembling compromise, the self-identified “democratic socialist” argued.
“We have got to make it clear that when the future of the planet is at stake, there is no middle ground. We will take on the fossil fuel industry and transform our energy system,” he began with a long list of “no middle ground” declarations. “We have got to make it clear that when this country drifts toward oligarchy, there is no middle ground. Large profitable corporations like Amazon will pay their fair share of taxes. When it comes to health care, there is no middle ground. Health care is a human right, not a privilege. And we will guarantee health care to all of our people through a Medicare-for-all single-payer system.”
“When it comes to abortion, there is no middle ground. A woman has the right to control her own life, not the government,” Sanders continued. “When it comes to prescription drugs, no middle ground. We’re going to take on the pharmaceutical industry, cut prescription drug prices in half. And when it comes to mass shootings and the fact that 40,000 people were killed last year with guns, no middle ground, we will take on the NRA. And when it comes to criminal justice reform and immigration reform, no middle ground. We will take on the prison-industrial complex. We will take on racism at the border. And when it comes to foreign policy, no middle ground. We will finally put an end to a bloated military budget and end endless wars.”
After this laundry list of issues on which Sanders will brook no compromise, the presidential candidate slammed Trump for division: “Brothers and sisters, Trump wants to divide us up. We will stand together. Black and white and Latino, Native American, Asian American. We will stand together and create the nation that we know we will become,” he said.
There is no “middle ground” compromise with Donald Trump and the GOP. pic.twitter.com/EKu13ktjyc
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 2, 2019
Sanders was trying to have his cake and eat it, too. If Democrats endorse a radical “no middle ground” position on everything, they cannot blame division on Trump. If they issue pablum about all kinds of Americans joining together (like Hillary Clinton), they cannot call for “no middle ground” on increasingly radical positions like outright socialism, abortion on demand, the abolition of all current health insurance, and the remaking of America’s economy in the name of fighting climate change.
Bernie Sanders is the radical divisive candidate. He wants to let the Boston bomber vote — while he’s still in prison! Trump is far less divisive than Sanders, and he is far less divisive than many other Democrat candidates, for that matter. Yet ironically, Sanders has one of the most conservative voting records in the 2020 Democratic race: Senators Michael Bennett (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) all have more liberal voting records, according to the American Conservative Union.
Compared to these radical Democrats, Trump is indeed a moderate. As liberals go crazy trying to oppose the president, they may end up re-electing him.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.