Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Bernie Sanders Doesn't Listen

When questioned on his views about gun control on the NBC TV show “Meet the Press”, Bernie Sanders, the Independent Senator from Vermont campaigning for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, replied, “Coming from a rural state, I think I can communicate with folks coming from urban states, where guns mean different things than they do in Vermont, where [they are] used for hunting. That’s where we have to go. We don’t have to argue with each other and yell at each other. We need a common sense solution.”

But can Sanders really communicate with people who hold different views than he does? Does he really want to? I don’t think so.

Although some credit Bernie’s first election win to the NRA,
when Ed Cutler, President of Gun Owners of Vermont, spoke with the Washington Post, he said that whenever he calls Sanders’s office asking for a meeting he never gets one adding that, “We have no input with him.” 

When Sanders was interrupted by hecklers from Netroot Nation in Arizona who shouted ,“Black lives matter”, instead of discussing their concerns or trying to set up a meeting to do that at, he responded, “Black lives of course matter, but I have spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and if you don’t want me to be here that’s OK.” 
According to one media report, after the confrontation, Sanders proceeded to cancel all the meetings he had scheduled for that day including one with some of the “African-American protesters and leaders”.

Curtiss Reed, a racial equality trainer and the executive director of the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity, sent an open letter to the press, http://vtdigger.org/2015/07/30/vermont-diversity-leaders-have-advice-for-sanders/, saying that Sanders needed to talk to people in Vermont to learn how racism in America has evolved in the last 50 years. He wanted Bernie to meet with “leaders of color right here in his own state, which is something that he hasn’t done.” (Sanders was elected Mayor of Burlington, VT, in 1981 and has been an elected official here ever since, going from Mayor to Congressman to Senator.)

According to a Facebook post by Curtiss who I believe strongly supports Sanders, Bernie or his staff have reached out to speak with him after his letter was published.

If you google, “seattle sanders protesters”, you will find several media reports about 2 young black women interrupting a Sanders’s speech. If you look at the comments, you will see that instead of addressing the issue they raise, Sanders’s fans, the people he has been surrounded and encouraged by for decades, are trashing the women rather than addressing the very real national issue they want Bernie to address. This blog entry describes better than I can how I feel about that.

Speaking at a town meeting in Cabot, VT to a small group of Vermonters who were interrupting him, Sanders yelled, “Shut up!”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQ77iOfSBAM. He also said, “You don’t have the microphone.”  “I am answering a question and I do not want to be disturbed.” “You’re entitled to your view. I’m entitled to my view.” “Do I have to answer those questions? I don’t.”

When I tried to speak to Sanders or his staff back in the 1990s about dietary supplements and silver supplements in particular I too got the distinct impression that Sanders and his staff wanted nothing to do with me.  

I was so annoyed that I told his receptionist that Bernie wasn’t born into the House of Lords. If he wants to represent the people, he has to talk to them. Then I stood outside his Burlington office wearing a sign asking, “How much does it cost to talk to Bernie?” I haven’t heard yet.

The reason I was so disappointed with Sanders was that I had really believed that he represented and connected with me, one of your proverbial little guys who he constantly claims he is fighting for. Ironically, while Sanders’s staff was hostile to me, I got a lot of help from other elected Vermont officials like Senator Patrick Leahy, then Senator Jim Jeffords, and then Governor Howard Dean, people I’ve never heard rant about battling the-powers-that be on behalf of ordinary folks like me. 

However, it all made sense when I learned that Sanders has strongly advocated for alt med practitioners, most, if not all, of whom, sell, recommend, and use dietary supplements, including silver, the dangerous snake oil that disfigured me over 50 years ago, http://rosemaryjacobs.com/naturopaths.html, which again is very ironic since Bernie constantly rants about the big bad greedy drug companies. Surely he knows that many drug companies are heavily invested in the unregulated multibillion dollar supplement industry. 

Sanders has also worked hard to force third party payers to reimburse the “services” of alt med practitioners like naturopaths.

IMO, Bernie only speaks with those who agree with him and admire him, unless as was the case with the NRA, he wants something from them. Many say, “Oh he will learn.” Well you could say that about anyone including Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, but I for one seriously doubt that Clinton, Trump, or Sanders will “learn”. Oh, they may change their position on an issue if they think it will get them the votes they need to become president, but as soon as they get what they want, they will revert to their default position.

Tags: Bernie Sanders, racism, black lives matter, diversity, Seattle Sanders protest