The Tr🍩ll Smears Against Bernie Must Be Stopped — Here’s How to Do It

A rapid response guide to 18 “classic” anti-Bernie smears

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Tr🍩ll Smear #1: “Bernie is just a bad person.”

It must be noted that poor Roy, like so many diehard Hillary fans, is deeply mired in the muck of Identity Politics. Roy himself essentially admits this in his latest fusillade of baseless ad hominem trash bombs:

Tr🍩ll Smear #2: “You think you know the truth about Bernie, but you don’t”

Gaslighting is the process by which politicians and/or the media try to influence public opinion by convincing people that what they think they know isn’t really correct.

Tr🍩ll Smear #3: “Bernie is insufferably self-righteous, with nothing to back it up”

This argument is dual pronged, and meant to depict Bernie as someone whose “holier-than-thou” attitude has alienated him from other members and made him completely ineffective in passing legislation.

Tr🍩ll Smear #4: “Bernie was not an effective legislator and he never accomplished anything in Congress.”

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. As explained in this article in AlterNet, and even confirmed here in PolitFact, Bernie was known as the “Amendment King” in Congress.

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Tr🍩ll Smear #4-A: “Bernie only passed Amendments and no real bills”

This is a follow on or come-back smear that ignores the oligarchic reality of Congress and the bills that are passed there.

First, someone who makes this argument has little knowledge of (1) how Congress works, and (2) for whom it works.

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What does this mean?

This means that the bills that get passed through Congress are designed to benefit the very wealthy and the Corporations. They are NOT written to benefit average citizens.

How does Bernie do it?

Bernie has been called the Amendment King because he is very adept at writing progressive legislation that actually helps working people, and then tacking that legislation onto a bill as it goes through Congress.

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  1. Bernie is the Amendment King.

Tr🍩ll Smear #5: “Bernie is a hypocrite”

There are several attacks of this genre. Let’s address them one by one:

  • The media continuously counted the presumed (but unconfirmed) superdelegate count in all their reporting on the state of the race.
  • At the very least, vote in accordance with the majority of the Primary participants in their State — which should already be policy for a Party that calls itself “democratic”.

Tr🍩ll Smear #6: “ Bernie ran a negative campaign and attacked Hillary unfairly”

This accusation actually makes me angry. Again, this accusation takes many forms, so I will deal with these one by one as well.

During the entire Democratic Primary, one of the candidates was the target of an active FBI criminal investigation — a situation unprecedented in US history.

Unfortunately, Loretta Lynch used her position as Attorney General to force the FBI and other spokespeople to avoid using the word “criminal” and “investigation” when describing the email investigation. Rather, Comey said, they were ordered to use the word “matter” when referring to the Clinton emails. This in turn allowed the Clinton campaign, its surrogates and even Hillary herself to spin all sorts of yarns during the ensuing year, calling the the FBI investigation a “security inquiry” and basically obfuscating the true nature of the investigation.

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Barney hates Bernie’s “holier-than-thou” attitude about money in politics.

Tr🍩ll Smear #7: “Bernie stayed in the race too long, and he used his campaign to damage Hillary and the Democrats”

This line of attack is especially pernicious, because it seeks to somehow place blame for Trump on Bernie and his supporters. That because the Sanders campaign went all the way to the convention, it left the Democrats divided and weakened.

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Tr🍩ll Smear #8: “Bernie “stole” and misused his supporters’ money”

This is a particularly egregious attack because it smacks so openly of anti-semitism.

Tr🍩ll Smear #9: “Bernie hyped the WikiLeaks scandal to his own advantage”

Now this attack is one of the ones that makes the least sense. And in order to make it, the Anti-Bernie Tr🍩lls need to do some pretty impressive mental gymnastics.

  1. The release of those emails cost Hillary Clinton the Presidency.
  1. Why is there currently a lawsuit charging the DNC with fraud, currently making its way through the courts? (Note: at a hearing in April, a federal judge refused to grant the DNC’s request to dismiss the suit)

Tr🍩ll Smear #10: “Bernie is a sleazy, dishonest campaigner and he is abusive to his staff and the media”

This is just another collection of ad hominem attacks that have nothing to do with policy, and the attacks often rely on very anecdotal and anonymous information.

Tr🍩ll Smear #11: “Bernie is Pro-NRA, Pro-Gun, voted 5 times against the Brady Bill, etc.”

First, let’s be clear: Bernie is no fan of the NRA. Moreover, Bernie is by no means the most pro-gun Democrat out there. Indeed, throughout most of his career, Bernie has had a solid “F” from the NRA.

“Bernie voted against the Brady Bill 5 times”

This is a particularly cynical attack that was hatched by the Clinton campaign in 2015. It is the quintessential political smear in that it takes votes out of context and makes it appear that Bernie opposed the provisions of the Brady Bill on principle or as a matter of conscience. This is not the case.

“Bernie voted to allow guns on Amtrak”

This is a really stupid accusation. Yes. Bernie voted for Senate Budget Amendment Nr. 798, worded as follows:

“Bernie voted to protect firearm manufacturers from liability”

This refers to Bernie’s support for the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which protects gun manufacturers and sellers from lawsuits that hold them liable for dealing in firearms that end up in criminal hands.

“Bernie is supported by the NRA, owes his career to the NRA, etc.”

Indeed, it was his full-throated support for the Assault Weapon Ban that earned him the ire of the NRA, who then poured money into the 1994 election to unseat him, popularising the bumper sticker slogan “Bye Bye Bernie”.

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Tr🍩ll Smear #12: “Bernie voted to give the Minuteman Militia immunity”

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Tr🍩ll Smear #13: “Bernie voted against Immigration Reform”

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Tr🍩ll Smear #14 [UPDATED]: “Russian Trolls Helped Bernie, Bernie is a Russian Stooge, a Putin Plant, a Kremlin Puppet, etc.”

This is an extremely unhinged attack that seeks to paint Bernie as some sort of pro-Putin, anti-American “useful idiot” who colluded with Russia to win, or whatever.

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Yes, it has come to this.

“The Russian Troll Farm Helped Bernie”

This is the most recent attack on Bernie, one which is seeking specifically to disqualify him from the 2020 election.

The Facebook ads placed were ineffective.

According to Elliot Schrage, Vice President of Policy and Communications at Facebook:

  1. 56% of the ads appeared AFTER the election
  2. 25% of the ads were seen by no one

“Bernie spent his honeymoon in the USSR”

This is a very old smear. And given the fact that the USSR no longer exists, it’s surprising that people still use it. But then again, we have seen Democrats and thers refer to today’s Russia as “Soviets” and “Communists”, so it is not surprising that the most ignorant will still pull this chestnut out of the bag.

Bernie voted against increased sanctions on Russia

In this attack, innuendo abounds:

Peter Daou on twitter: “So Bernie Sanders was 1 of 2 (out of 100) senators to vote against Russia sanctions. And 1 of 4 to vote against the Magnitsky Act.”

There were two reasons to vote against the sanctions that Congress sought to impose on Russia in 2017.

Bernie voted against the Magnitsky Act

The Magnitsky Act was a horrible piece of legislation that sought to impose sanctions on secific Russian individuals. In this it was a new sort of blacklist and violated US and international laws as well as human rights protocols. According to The Nation, it also brought us closer to WWIII.

The Sanders Campaign was helped by Putin and Russia

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Tr🍩ll Smear #15: “Bernie and Jane are Corrupt”

The screwy accusation of “bank fraud” started by right wing smear merchants and now pushed by anti-Bernie Democrats.

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Dr. Jane Sanders, shown here in Marshalltown, Iowa on Jan. 10., has been accused of exacting a severe financial toll on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. But Vermont Bishop Christopher Coyne says the accusation is without merit. ANDREW HARNIK / AP

UPDATE 2018: FBI EXONERATES JANE SANDERS

In November 2018 Jane Sanders was informed that Vermont’s U.S. attorney has concluded its investigation and will not bring charges.

Background:

The accusation is based on a complaint that was filed with the Vermont US District Attorney’s office in 2016 by one Brady Toensing, the VT Vice Chair of the GOP and a well-known conservative bag man famous for stirring up trouble for Vermont Democrats and liberals. As Paste Magazine explains:

The False Complaint

Toensing claims to have filed the complaint “on behalf” of member of the Catholic diocese of Burlington, which he claims was damaged through the sale of the property to Burlington College when it was under Jane Sanders’s management. The main thrust of his complaint is that the property owned by the diocese was bought for $10 million, but the church only received $8 million. According to Toensing thi means that the Diocese was damaged by that $2 million shortfall.

The Actuality

Except the Church itself does not agree with Toensing’s claim. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The Result

If there is one thing you need to know from this story, it is that the Church actually ended up receiving $8 million for a piece of property that was appraised at only $6 million.

  1. The Sanders family received nothing from the transaction
  2. Neither Bernie nor Jane can be said to have benefitted in any way from the alleged “fraud”

Why are the FBI involved?

The FBI are bound to investigate every complaint that is duly filed in a District Attorney. However, the FBI has not said that anyone is a target of the investigation and so far there have been no criminal or civil charges even discussed in this matter.

TURN IT AROUND

If someone comes at you with this smear, ask them why they are on the same side as the Tensing family, who persecuted Hillary for Benghazi. Ask them why they are helping Brady Toensing, who was the Trump campaign manager for Vermont.

Tr🍩ll Smear #16: “Bernie has no support among African Americans”

This is perhaps the most hurtful and outrageous attack on Bernie — and is also the one that is most easily debunked.

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A crowd of students went wild when Bernie appeared on the Capitol Mall
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Bernie chained himself to a WOC to protest segregation in Chicago, and was arrested for it.
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Bernie led a protest against segregation at the University of Chicago in 1962.

And when Jesse Jackson ran for President, Bernie Sanders helped deliver Vermont’s delegates during the 1988 Democratic Primary. Bernie was one of the very few white political office-holders to back Jackson.

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Burlington Mayor Bernard Sanders greets presidential candidate Jesse Jackson at a campaign appearance at Montpelier City Hall, December 31, 1988. (AP Photo / Toby Talbot)

What has Bernie done for African-Americans lately?

Firstly, we must reject this snarky and cynical question as itself being wholly irrelevant. It matters A LOT what Bernie Sanders did in the 60’s, as Shaun King brilliantly points out in this article.

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This poll is from April 2017 — It shows that the typical “Bernie Bro” is probably an African-American woman.
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CNN/ORC Poll from 31 May 2017 shows the same thing as the Harris poll.
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This CNN/SSRS Poll from 2018 shows the same thing as all the others: namely, that Bernie Sanders is much more popular among non-whites.

This is because Bernie’s policies will benefit all Americans but will help African-Americans and people of color most.

When MLK was killed, he was in Memphis to help striking sanitation workers. This was part of his “Poor People’s Campaign,” the last great struggle of his life, and one that was carried on by his wife after his death. King knew that the way to social justice was through economic justice; that these two goals were inextricably linked, and the cynical exploitative elites who tried to separate them did so only to divert and destroy the economic struggle that lies at the heart of racial equality.

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MLK’s Poor People’s Campaign united working families of all demographic groups.

So why do people keep pushing this smear?

The “Liberal Establishment” and the Democratic Elites oppose Democratic Socialism, and they oppose the types of populist — and popular — policies that people like Bernie Sanders (and now Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) are promoting.

Tr🍩ll Smear #17: “Bernie is not a Democrat!”

Centrist Democrats love to pillory Bernie for not being on their Team.

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Bernie beat a corrupt, 5-term Democrat to become Mayor of Burlington

So to anyone who screams “Bernie is not a Democrat” I would say that he is indeed a Democrat as far as the Vermont Democratic Party is concerned.

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Bernie has a close and successful relationship with the VT Democratic Party

So to anyone who screams “Bernie is not a Democrat” I would say, that he is indeed a Democrat as far as the Democratic Senate Leadership is concerned.

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Bernie appears with other Congressional Democratic Leaders.

In short, if he walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and gets endorsed by the Democratic Party leadership on both national and state levels, then Bernie Sanders is definitely a Democratic duck.

Tr🍩ll Smear #18: “Bernie also voted for the 1994 Crime Bill that he criticizes the Clintons for ”

This is also a very cynical and misleading smear that needs to be explained and debunked just as much as any other.

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Bernie speaking against a Crime Bill in 1991
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Joe is a US Ex-Pat with dual US-EU citizenship, who travels Europe extensively, commenting on trends, attitudes, politics and more.

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