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Friday, March 23, 2018

Back in the 1960s, Bernie Sanders burned hot as a civil rights activist. He led sit-ins against segregation and participated in the 1963 March on Washington. A few years later, he joined the exodus of countercultural lefties from the cauldron of New York City to the bucolic hills of Vermont — the whitest state in the nation.

That’s Sanders in a nutshell. The senator from Vermont, now running for president, is a lovable talker, but talk is almost all he’s ever done. Other liberals found purpose teaching at inner-city schools. Sanders hung around coffee shops in picturesque Burlington, arguing the finer points of the socialist paradise he intended to create in a place that was already half there.

Shortly after arriving, Sanders and his then-wife bought 85 rural acres with the thought of living off the land. “I don’t think Bernie was particularly into growing vegetables,” a friend told Mother Jones magazine. Well, many a Vermont field went unplowed in those days.

During an early run for state office as a Liberty Union Party candidate, Sanders proposed ending compulsory education in Vermont. As he put it, Vermont schools “crush the spirits of our children.”

In fairness, Sanders did hold a serious executive office as mayor of Burlington. And he’s mellowed into pragmatism. Despite his anti-war views, Sanders has supported Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet, ignoring the hundreds of billions in cost overruns. It meant jobs in Vermont.

And he’s done some updating. In railing against the villains of the oligarchy, he’s replaced “Rockefeller” with “Koch.”

To his credit, Sanders never disavowed his socialist leanings. (He refers to himself as a “democratic socialist.”) Nor has he scrubbed the Brooklyn from his voice, another honest touch.

Dressed in the rumpled suit of the prairie populist, Sanders has tuned his rhetoric to resonate with middle-of-the-road Americans worried about growing economic inequality. The crowds enjoy him, and he’s doing surprisingly well in the polls.

Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat also running for president, is understandably irked by the attention Sanders garners.

Portraying himself as the true liberal alternative to Hillary Clinton, O’Malley notes his success in raising his state’s minimum wage and legalizing same-sex marriage. Asked at a rally in Iowa how he differed from Sanders, O’Malley responded, “I’ve actually gotten these things done.”

Part of Sanders’s retro charm comes from his refusal to rewrite his story. But the story as he tells it is incomplete.

Writing in The Vermont Freeman back in the ’70s, Sanders explained his decision to leave New York City as follows: He couldn’t bear holding a “monotonous” office job among “the mass of hot dazed humanity heading uptown for the 9-5.”

No mention of what were probably the stronger motivations — the muggings, the racial tensions, the bodies sleeping (or dead) in the subway stations. The New York of the ’70s was a hard place for working people of all colors. As writer James Wolcott memorably put it, New Yorkers lived with “the sense that much of the social contract had suffered a psychotic break.”

Today, Gotham’s humanity is as dazed as ever and if anything, hotter, yet the city has become a magnet for young, ambitious, creative people. The difference is that New York has become an amazingly safe city — thanks in large part to the New Yorkers who stuck around to fix much of what went wrong.

It’s one thing to fight in the fray of urban disorder and another to shadowbox in the gentle hills of northern New England.

Say this for Sanders, though: He puts on a good show. Stagecraft may be where his greatest talents lie.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at 

69 Responses to Sanders Is A Fighter, But Not In The Fray

    • I respect your choice, but we all do what works for us. Uncle Bernie is fantastic, we all love him but he can’t win the General Election. That is given and it’s the reality. I have much doubts whether you are a Democrat.

      • As a registered Democrat, I submit that Senator Sanders (I do think ‘Uncle Bernie’ is a demeaning title) would energize voters to get out and cast their votes. And that’s a real problem – disengaged apathetic citizens who do not inform themselves and who do not vote.

          • That’s why I admire Sen. Sanders! He’s not afraid to speak the truth. A man with principles.

          • FT66>A man with principles but no plans.

            And how, exactly, do you know this? Telepathic super-powers?

          • Those who want Bernie are republicans who are pretending to be democrats. They think if Bernie wins, automatically they win and take the White House. No one is going to make such a mistake of nominating him.

      • I have doubts about whether you have been reading anything other than liberal propaganda. Sanders can win.

        • Good luck with that. You can never win by only energizing only the white bloc. Your maths is off the normal calculations. Smart folks as I am, are not with you.

        • I love very much my real uncle Bernard Sanders. He loves politics as we do (his young ones). We always tell him, he can’t win with no any organisation. Talking only won’t take him anywhere.

        • I disagree. Hey, I sit here wishing/hoping/praying Ted Cruz will be the GOP candidate, he has no chance of winning a national election. I’d guess GOPers wish the same thing about Bernie!

          • Be careful what you wish for with Cruz. No one in Germany thought Hitler could do it either but hatred is a powerful emotion and that is essence of Cruz.

          • Sure, anything can happen. But when I look through the current and expected LONG list of candidates running, I find Carly and Cruz as the least likely to be elected. But the possibility that Carly could be nominated to anything other than most out of her mind, so I end up with Cruz.

      • >Uncle Bernie is fantastic, we all love him but he can’t win the General Election.

        Maybe not, or certainly not, if enough people think he can’t win so they don’t vote for him. I, for one, am d@mn tired of ‘biz as usual’ from both the Dimocrats and the Rethuglicans. Why is it that the supposedly (small d) democratic US has strongly suppressed efforts to create a viable third party for a century?

        Maybe it’s time for a ‘democratic socialist’ candidate? Maybe it’s time (again) for a socialist political movement in the US, like what existed in the ’30s, before the corporatists stamped it into the ground…

        To quote ‘Network’ (the movie) “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!!” Not only am I voting for Bernie, I’m working for his election in every way possible. GO BERNIE!!!

        • I will try to cross my fingers for your new party you have in mind. I hope you won’t be disappointed twice:
          1. loss of your new party
          2. your favourate Bernie not being able to make it

          • I expect to be disappointed. Over and over again. But you can’t win until you lose many times. At least when I look at myself in a mirror, I can say “I tried.”

            What can you say?

            Instead of crossing your fingers, why not do some useful work with your hands?

          • NO. Thanks for the invitation. Crossing fingers is so easy and doesn’t cost me anything (time, efforts & money).I have to try to be a bit polite here. Trying, losing and trying again while knowing you will lose again and again doesn’t make any sense. Why can’t you do other stuff instead which will yeild results anticipated? Thats a difference between kids and adults. Adults always think first before they act.

          • Thomas Edison tried 3,000 substances before finding that tungsten would work for the filament of light bulbs. Should he have given up after the first 100? The first 1,000?

            Should MLK have given up when the first sit-ins failed to desegregate the US?

            FT66>Crossing fingers is so easy and doesn’t cost me anything (time, efforts & money).

            However, it doesn’t doesn’t >do< anything, doesn't help anyone. I would rather try, fail, and keep trying than not try at all. At least I can retain my self-respect.

            Adults always think first before they post statements…

  1. Bernie is doing the right thing. Making the democratic nominee earn the right to capture the nomination. It’s healthy for the party. His is an important point of view which needs hearing. In the end though we always bend to the pragmatic and the strongest voice. This time it’s Hillary’s.

  2. Sanders is a lazy guy and a con artist. He talks a better game than he plays. He’s just in the campaign to get himself a contract with CNN for commentary so he can make some good old capitalist money for himself. He aspires to be the left’s Newt Gingrich.

  3. I listened to Sen. Sanders speech on CNN a couple of days ago and I did not hear anything that would suggest he is on the fray. His support of social programs, his proposal to tax the wealthy to help reduce our budget deficits further than they already have, his proposal to end all the loopholes and subsidies that help people who don’t need our help to have everything that money can buy, or corporations that are posting huge profits, are examples of courage and pragmatism.
    I plan to listen to Hillary’s interview on CNN at 5 pm today, and I may decide who to support after that. I have supported Hillary’s candidacy since before she announced her decision to run, but I am very impressed by what I hear from Sen. Sanders. Clinton-Sanders.

    • The problem with almost everything he says is it would be impossible to get through Congress. I want to hear ways to make changes that can actually become reality!

  4. A limp attempt to devalue Bernie only reveals him as the most clean politician this country has ever known and to boot a nice guy who kept his life simple, loyal to himself, his job, his family and spouse, sensible in the head and fair to his fellow Americans

    It’s a no brainer the rot that runs the country has no taste for Bernie but he would be a president for ALL the people except the ROT!

  5. The author here has one thing right. Burnie does put on a darn good show. But stagecraft does not get 10,000 excited, and energetic people to show up for a political rally in Madison WI. on a week night no less. A State that twice elected a dim witted lap dog as their teacher bashing Governor. Now with one of the worst economic records in the Country. That helps. But what it takes is a message that resonates with ordinary Americans. And a politician with that hard to acquire trust, and authenticity. The kind I’ll bet O’Malley, or Hillary herself, wish they had a bit more of. Then, maybe Burnie wouldn’t be tearing it up, as they say. And worrying theses center right candidates of what many of us see as a drifting right, Democratic Party. That seems to be fixing to go thru it’s own identity crisis. And Burnie Sanders is absolutely reflective of that. And Hillary Clinton had better pay attention. So, let’s call this article what it is. Transparent, shallow, ugly. And let’s admit where it coming from, scared sh!tless, Right Wing Democrats. And, it flies in the face of what we Democrats are supposed to stand against. Hypocrisy, cynicism, mud slinging propaganda. What are the Righties afraid of? He’s just a little old Socialists. Who’s only been saying this stuff for the last 40 years. Besides, he hasn’t got a chance. Like a first term Senator from IL. An African American, former Community Organizer from Chicago, hardly anyone has ever heard of, going against the Clinton machine? Get out of town!!

  6. Hillary has to earn my support every bit as much as Bernie does. She should not get the Democratic nomination because “it’s her turn, her time”. I appreciate Bernie’s bluntness and frankness, which, I’m sorry to have to say, contrasts with Hillary’s measured politically-correct responses. I think this article is a clear attempt to discredit and marginalize Senator Sanders. It’s not going to work.

  7. Let me think, how long has Bernie been in Congress? Like almost forever. You don’t do that, especially as a socialist, without doing something. He has represented Vermonters well. I am ready to listen to how he intends to help the poor and the middle class throughout the country if elected.

      • The Defense contractor put some part of the F-35 in every Congressional district. Vermont gets a flight of them stationed in Burlington. I too am disappointed with Sanders on this issue, especially after the F-35 failed all tactical combat tests. The F-16 shot it down every time during the simulated combat. I am no fan of that plane or the people at the Pentagon that have been pushing it. Bernie needs an education here. Still he does put forward a good plan for fighting income inequality.

      • You are exactly correct Sir! That Air Force plane is a disgrace! And for Bernie Sanders to just standby, ignoring it all, as the United States military profusely spent billions of tax dollars in his State! If only he’d have had the courage to come down from Washington, shutter that factory. And put them Vermonters out of a job, and on unemployment!

  8. I like uncle Bernie. What he talks can take any snake out where it’s hiding. What makes me pull back a little bit, uncle Bernie has no organisation, no PAC, no people who are working for him. His talk of: “they have mega dollar, but we have votes” is a good one but not going to produce anticipated results. Yes he needs to mobilise people, he needs to make sure there are workers who will bring them to Voting Places. That needs money of which he doesn’t have. All in all is doing a fantastic job. We are still one FAMILY and we have experienced before how we can unite together and emerge as one democrat with one voice.

  9. Bernie, bless his heart, lives in La La land.

    Would that a socialist has a chance, but he doesn’t in center right America. Might as well vote for Ralph Nadar and give the election to the GOP.

    The GOP/TP has the same problem, sticking to your “principals” and yet never getting anything done. So how helpful is this?

    • Explain to me how a vote for Hilary will differ in the “real world” from a vote for the GOP candidate. I mean substantially not just for show.

        • Maybe, not a sure thing. Clinton is a staunch corporatist and imperialist. It’s not likely she will propose anyone her handlers find objectionable. The danger with her, like it has been shown with Obama, is the sheep in wolves clothing scam. Obama has been more of civil rights usurper than was Bush but with far less flack from “progressives”.

        • Sorry I’m not trying to “bomb” you. If we have another 4 years like the last 34 of blatant corporate fealty it won’t matter much who sits on SCOTUS Inc.

  10. The real beauty of our unique brand of Democracy is that we are all allowed to voice our opinions, and you have stated yours rather eloquently. I applaud you for style, if not for substance.

    The thing I like most about Bernie Sanders is that which you seem compelled to “warn” us about; Bernie Sanders does not make excuses or pull punches but rather speaks his mind and does so without any semblance of guile and I believe part of this is due to his personality not being soiled by a long history of daily contact with “qualified” politicians.

    My entire life has been spent in a country run by “qualified” Presidents and I’ve watched it degenerate into the politically corrupt and socially competitive mess that it is now. Your article is a good example of how we, as a people, seem inclined to find the flaws and point them out, even at the expense of our integrity and honor.

    If the worse that can be said about Bernie Sanders is that he hasn’t “done” anything politically important, then it should be left unsaid.

    It is my personal and public hope that Mr. Sanders wins the Democratic Candidacy because it will mean I will be able to vote for a Democrat without reservation for the first time since I was old enough to cast a vote. I, for one, am tired of casting my vote for the lesser of two evils and I, for one, feel Bernie’s obvious intelligence, honesty and candor is exactly what’s needed to help society focus on something other than the latest manufactured crisis currently trending in what passes for news these days.

    It is my hope, nay, my belief, that an unqualified but honest and concerned person in the White House is exactly what this country needs. Business as usual in the political scene has obviously failed and will continue to lead us down the path of bitter failure as a society.

  11. Do we need another corporatist Democrat like Clinton? Not if we want a chance at fixing our problems. If she’s the nominee, I’ll have to vote for her but I’ve never forgiven her for NAFTA–and no one else should either.

    • While NAFTA sucked, and it REALLY SUCKED, it was going to happen one way or another. It was years ago, Time to move on.

      • With someone who also supports the TPP? And is w-a-a-y too comfortable with Wall Street and the corporate interests? If I have to vote for Clinton, it will be with gritted teeth.

        • You don’t have to vote for anyone. Most Americans choose not to vote because they realize they have no real choice. In any other industrialized ‘democracy’, if the majority of citizens eligible to vote chose not to vote, that would be considered a vote of ‘no confidence’ and the election would be declared invalid.

          • That’s not how it works…if people don’t vote, politicians simply think we’re just not paying attention (often, sadly, true) and a state can end up with a Bobby Jindal as governor as Louisiana has, and they think can get away with anything. If a whopping majority of elected voters actually voted, the Jindals of our world would have to sit up, take notice, and remember that they work for us.
            Those who abstain from voting are every bit as responsible for crooks or wingnuts being elected, as those who actually voted for the crooks/wingnuts…Our votes matter! If they didn’t, the GOP wouldn’t be working so hard to suppress voting rights.

          • That’s not how it works. The 1% select the candidates and let us vote for the one we like better. They don’t care which candidate we elect because the 1% own both.

            The 1% don’t assume that most people don’t vote because they don’t care. It’s the 1% who don’t care. They don’t care that most people don’t vote, as long as the people believe that voting is all they can and should do. By voting, and doing nothing else, the people leave real power in the hands of the 1%.

            The political system must be reformed in order for voting to be meaningful, and it can’t be reformed by voting.

          • Nothing will be accomplished by not voting. I understand The one percent thing. I have marched with the 99% in my hometown New Orleans. If you don’t get out and vote then don’t pontificate about what’s wrong with the government and who’s a good or bad candidate. If all of the 99% registered voters got out and voted these 1% sponsored candidates would be wetting pants and shivering in Gucci boots. I understand where you’re coming from but the argument to stay away from the polls is utter BS.

          • If you insist on voting for ‘the lesser evil’, you have no right to complain when the evil candidate you helped elect does evil. Instead of giving the appearance of legitimacy to the charade by voting in elections, why not work for real change?

  12. Wow! Is this a low blow hit piece. Well I’m not a Hillary hater she doesn’t automatically get my vote. I like what he’s saying and by the way that is one of the few things a President can wield – broad access to his ideas. What has Hillary “done” ? What have the Democrats done? They are afraid to speak out strongly on issues for fear they won’t be reelected. I wouldn’t expect to agree with any candidate on all issues but I am in agreement on his social and fiscal remedies. This piece makes me want to send off a donation to Bernie. Is this Claire McCaskill writing under a pen name?

    • What are you waiting for to make your donation to Uncle Bernie. This uncle can talk nicely, People Cheer him. But he has very little to offer. Still we love Our uncle Bernie.

  13. Where do your greatest talents lie, Ms. Harrop? Hit pieces on a viable candidate for President? This article is pure hogwash…I take that back. I wouldn’t wash my hog in this.

  14. Harrop has done a delightfully amusing hatchet job on Bernie Sanders. No sensible person would want to read anything of substance about Sanders when they can read her witticisms at his expense instead. But she knows Sanders better than he knows himself, and graciously shares that knowledge with us.

    For example, she quotes Sanders’ explanation for his decision to move from New York City to Vermont (he couldn’t bear holding a “monotonous” office job). Thanks to her ability to read Sanders’ mind, she is able to tell us that “the muggings, the racial tensions, the bodies sleeping (or dead) in the subway stations” were “probably the stronger motivations”.

    Harrop will brook no nonsense about journalistic objectivity, and makes no secret of the fact that she prefers Maryland governor Martin O’Malley. She says O’Malley “notes his success in raising his state’s minimum wage and legalizing same-sex marriage. Asked at a rally in Iowa how he differed from Sanders, O’Malley responded, “I’ve actually gotten these things done.” What neither O’Malley nor Harrop note is what many consider O’Malley’s glaring failure in handling the crime situation in Baltimore when he was the city’s mayor. Baltimore civic leaders say O’Malley’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy targeted young black men, fuelling hostility between the black community and the police, which culminated in the recent death of Freddie Gray, a black man, while in Baltimore police custody.

    If Harrop is as blonde as she is biased, there’s a place waiting for her at Fox News.

    • So pointing out his weak spots is a “hatchet job”? Get real. There are many, many of us who just do not care for Mr. Sanders.
      And your “blonde” comment does you zero credit.

      • I would welcome a serious article that discussed Sanders’ ‘weak spots’, such as his uncritical support for Israel. This is not that article. Harrop preferred to make snide and condescending comments about things like Sanders’ fashion sense, describing him as “dressed in the rumpled suit of the prairie populist”. If you read a similarly condescending comment about Hilary Clinton’s famous pantsuits, you would find it offensive. And you would be right to do so.

      • Bernie tells it like it is, as opposed to the many pundits who’d rather hear BS sanitized by politicos. They can’t handle the harsh realities in the way Bernie lays it out. Go Bernie.

  15. Bernie and Elizabeth actually fight the fight….what’s the matter?…does an actual honest politician who is isn’t bought off scare you? We have had a great Black President and now we could have a great Jewish President….oh wait….is that it? We have never had a Jew as President……FEEL THE BERN!!!!!!

    • Ms. Clinton has fought the fight as well, first as Senator, then as Secretary of State. She has the experience and the knowledge to do a great job as President. We’ve never had a woman President, either. Oh wait, is that your problem? You don’t like the fact that Ms. Clinton is female? Not everyone is comfortable with Mr. Sanders – I’m one of them – and there’s nothing wrong with that, nor does it always have to do with his religion. I, myself, hadn’t realized that he was, in fact, Jewish, so that fact has absolutely no bearing on why I don’t care for him. His pro-gun and pro-military industrial support make me incredibly nervous.

      • You bots are hilarious if not the brightest bulbs in the pack. Hillary says jump, and all the dutiful ‘yes’ men and woman ask, “How High, Mistress?”

        Hillary has been pissing in the common trough so long on behalf of her own self interest, it is not surprising that your ilk will get your fill thinking it a sacred fount with magical powers. No one here takes you seriously, nut case!

  16. Wow, if this isn’t a pro-Hillary puff piece, I don’t know what is? Sanders is a bit more of an intellectual than your average politician and that’s what sets him apart as it does for Obama. A successful presidency has always been a presidency of IDEAS.

  17. Judging from the negative MSM press that Bernie is getting he must have somebody scared! Good. You go Bernie. I am a democrat that has had enough of the republican policies democrats pass. If Bernie isn’t on the ballot in 2016 I will either vote for Jill Stein or write in Bernie’s name. Let the draconian, nation destroyers on the extreme right have the whole government. The death of our country will come sooner rather than later. The revolution will come sooner rather than later.

    • MSMBC talks very favorably of Bernie, they give him plenty of air time. I know Rachel Meadow likes him and so does Ed Shultz.

      • They don’t like Hillary, that much we know. But we don’t like them either. They are just there to make their daily bread and not helping those who have been suffering a lot and are in much need of help.

        • In what way they don’t speak ill of Hillary. I see them more in line of exposing a politicians hypocrisy and dumb things they say like Todd Akins ” Legitimate Rape” they got a lot of milage out of him.

  18. What I thought would happen is very apparent in this hit piece by Harrop and in some of the comments. If Bernie is unelectable it is because the democratic party will do everything they can to bury him while all the while giving him “left-handed” compliments meant to damn him.

  19. I do very much like Bernie, but I highly doubt his national electability with the term ‘socialist’ in his description. Clinton(s) have worked for some very significant liberal policies (national health care), and Hillary can continue to support it, pick future Supreme Court justices, veto as needed, and use executive actions – so it DOES TOO matter! And who in the world knows about if or when any ‘revolution’ might come – that’s the wildest of speculation. In the real, not fantasy, world, Clinton is by far the thoughtful choice.

    • Don’t let the labels scare you. Is Bernie Sanders mainstream enough to win the general election? Maybe, maybe not. But he is where the energy is right now. And, I’ll bet we get to hear the other candidate’s rendition of Bernie’s new hit song before too long. But then, he does it so well. Probably because he’s been rehearsing, honing, tweaking it, and riffing on it, for the past 40 years.

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