'Badass Left-Winger' Rebukes Gossip-Style News Ahead of Campaign Kick-Off

Sen. Bernie Sanders, set to host his official presidential campaign kick-off event in Vermont on Tuesday, spent Memorial Day weekend exercising his political chops by saying that his path towards the Democratic nomination will be focused on having a serious conversation with the American people about critical issues like stagnant wages and decades of growing economic inequality, the clear and present danger of planetary climate change, and the corruption of the nation’s media and political institutions—increasingly controlled by corporate and elite interests—which consistently refuse to address such concerns.

“I don’t go to fundraisers where millionaires sit around the room and say here’s a million, here’s $5 million for your Super PAC. That’s not my life. That’s not my world. And I think the American people are saying that is not what our politics should be about.”
—Sen. Bernie SandersWith one local supporter in New England describing Sanders as a “badass left-winger” compared to anyone else in the field, the self-described democratic socialist had interviews with both CNN and the Associated Press in recent days during which he said that though he has no desire to take “cheap shots” at Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, he will certainly not hesitate to criticize her when it comes to key policy differences.

And discussing his colleague Sen. Elizabeth Warren—who has so far rebuffed all calls from progressives and liberal Democrats to enter the presidential race—Sanders said that he shares many of her concerns about the suffering middle class and the destructive role that Wall Street supremacy is having on the nation’s economy.

Describing her as a “good friend,” Sanders told AP that his and Sen. Warren’s views “are parallel on many, many issues.” And when it came to his role of challenging Clinton from the left, Sanders rejected the idea, offered by AP, that his candidacy should be narrowly viewed as an attempt to “shape the debate” among Democrat, progressives, or other voters. “Hillary Clinton is a candidate, I am a candidate,” Sanders said. “I suspect there will be other candidates. The people in this country will make their choice.”

According to AP:

On the issue of money’s ever-increasing role in U.S. politics, Sanders described to AP how fighting back against the flow of campaign cash unleashed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision would be one of his key platform planks. “I’m not going to have a Super PAC in this campaign,” he said. “I don’t go to fundraisers where millionaires sit around the room and say here’s a million, here’s $5 million for your super PAC. That’s not my life. That’s not my world. And I think the American people are saying that is not what our politics should be about.”

Meanwhile, appearing Sunday on CNN’s Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter, Sanders said that in addition to the rise of money’s centrality to political campaigns, a related obstacle to positive change in the country, in fact, remains the deplorable coverage offered by the nation’s broadcast and cable news companies.

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Asked by Stelter if attacking the media would be an effective campaign strategy, Sanders responded:

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And the coverage is never more noxious, suggested Sanders, than when it comes to presidential campaigns.

“In terms of campaign coverage, there is more coverage about the political gossip of the campaign, about raising money, about polling, about somebody saying something dumb, or some kid who works for a campaign and sends out something stupid on Facebook, right?” Sanders said. “We can expect that to be a major story. But what your job is, what the media’s job is, is to say: ‘Look, these are the major issues facing the country.’ We’re a democracy. People have different points of view. Let’s argue it.”

But will he go after Clinton?

“Of course Hillary Clinton and anybody else deserves criticism. When you have different points of view, I guess that’s what criticism is about,” Sanders told CNN. “But I will tell you that I have never run a negative political ad in the state of Vermont in my life. People of Vermont know that. I just don’t think that that’s what politics is about. So, will I criticize Hillary Clinton on her position of TPP, or the lack of position? Will I criticize her on her views of Wall Street? Will I criticize her on foreign policy? That’s what democracy is about. But taking cheap shots at people, making it personal, I don’t think that’s what politics should be about.”

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