If you are, or think you might want to be, a Bernie Sanders supporter be careful of embracing Bernie Sanders' rigid socialist heritage. In 1981 the New York Times became aware of then small town Mayor Bernie Sanders.
"I don't believe in charities," said Mayor Sanders, bringing a shocked silence to a packed hotel banquet room. The Mayor, who is a Socialist, went on to question the "fundamental concepts on which charities are based" and contended that government, rather than charity organizations, should take over responsibility for social programs.The advantage Bernie has is the lack of vetting regarding his personal life and the source of his ethical and moral beliefs, along with the frequent spin of his real record.
You know a lot about Hillary Clinton's personal life.
But the press has not given you much information on Bernie. As I've remarked previously, on the personal level he is a white grumpy old Jewish man.
You may know he has been married twice but probably don't know much about his first wife.
You probably don't know he did not marry the mother of his only child.
Partly because his campaign hid his history, his personal history did attract attention with the tabloids briefly in 2015 resulting in headlines like this above a story indicating that some Sanders public bios even said his son was with his first wife:
(Apparently many, including a lot of women, care about Hillary's personal life without give a single thought to Bernie's, a fact I find appallingly discriminatory against a woman.)
But I do care about what experiences created the core of his belief structure which leads to his decisions as a policy maker.
Consider the article Jail for Stem Cell Researchers? How Bernie Sanders Lost My Vote. Note that the writer acknowledged that after the damage was done, Bernie changed his mind. But I have to wonder what made him vote the way he did initially.
Consider further his votes on the gun control issue as shown here. Start at the bottom and move up through the years until we see the new Bernie.
He is free, of course, to change his mind just as is Hillary. But apparently Hillary doing so is not acceptable to most "Feel the Bern" supporters.
The fact is Bernie's record is not straightforward. What is the source of Bernie's ethical and moral beliefs? That is as hard to determine as the content of Hillary's speeches to the banks. Consider the article My Quixotic Hunt for Bernie Sanders' Kibbutz. At first you might wonder why someone would bother to puzzle over Bernie's kibbutzim experience. The writer explains something that might or might not be of concern (emphasis added):
The name of Sanders’s kibbutz might seem like a minor detail, but it’s important. Among other things, it could build on our understanding of his formative years before he became a populist firebrand filling stadiums across America as Hillary Rodham Clinton’s main challenger in the Democratic primary race. Was it one of the hard-left kibbutzim of that era affiliated with the Marxist political party Mapam? Or was it one of the more moderate socialist communities affiliated with the ruling Mapai party?A few months after that article was published, the writer published this article Inside the Kibbutz Where Bernie Sanders Lived and Learned Socialism explaining (emphasis added):
Founded in 1935 by Romanian and Yugoslavian Jewish immigrants, Shaar HaAmakim was part of Hashomer Hatzair, a socialist youth movement. The kibbutz was affiliated with Mapam, a political party to the left of Labor.This informs me that Bernie had to have reacted over the years to this heavy ideological experience. But because he doesn't talk about, I don't know how his embrace of democratic socialism was informed by his awareness of Mapam. And I don't know what "take away" he got regarding that political land mine "family values" because:
The kibbutz founders had a strong admiration for the Communist system in the Soviet Union.
“Today we know how many were killed there in the gulags, but when the kibbutz was founded, they believed that from Russia will come the truth,” she said. “They called Stalin the ‘Sun of the Nations.’”
“The kibbutz was a full commune,” said Irit Drori, a 72-year-old former secretary of the kibbutz. Typical of the time, children were raised in a dormitory apart from their parents, who lived in small apartments.How did this model affect Bernie's choices about his relationship with the mother of his only son?
Today Sanders disclaims organized religion despite the fact that his Jewish upbringing was traditional for a family of immigrant and first generation Eastern European Jews. As the Washington Post article on his religious leanings indicated "rejecting the formal trappings of religion adds to the unconventional nature of a candidacy that has energized many liberals but could prove problematic in a general election."
Sure, it's a good way to interface with many liberals, but one has to wonder to what degree that background informed his 2003 attitude on Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), sometimes called therapeutic cloning. From the previously referenced article Jail for Stem Cell Researchers? How Bernie Sanders Lost My Vote:
Do only scientists care about this?Again, Bernie did subsequently change his position on the matter after the damage was done. But you have to ask yourself what was Bernie's initial gut reaction to the cloning/stem cell research issue and what did the "Feel the Bern" man himself feel .
Listen to the late President Gerald Ford:
“Therapeutic cloning ...holds limitless potential to improve or extend life for ...Americans suffering from some chronic or debilitating condition. ...a ban on all cloning...(would mean) slamming the door to lifesaving cures and treatments...
And former President Jimmy Carter ...
“One of the great scientific accomplishments of our time, therapeutic cloning, ... presents promising new opportunities for the treatment of many serious illnesses and injuries... heart disease, Parkinson’s, and spinal cord injury, to name a few.
“I ... oppose restrictions on therapeutic cloning...”
And First Lady Nancy Reagan:
“...Ronnie (President Ronald Reagan, then suffering Alzheimer’s) struggles in a world unknown to me... I am determined to do what I can to save other families from this pain. I’m...in favor of new legislation to allow the ethical use of therapeutic cloning...”
What does this have to do with Bernie Sanders?
He voted to imprison SCNT researchers—and fine them one million dollars.
Hard to believe? Here is his vote.
Bernie Sanders voted YES on “forbidding human cloning for...medical research. Voted to pass a bill that would... punish violators with up to 10 years in prison and fines of at least $1 million.”
The specific bill is H.R.234— the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2003 (Introduced in House) January 8, 2003, by Dave Weldon (R) of Florida.
Not only did Bernie Sanders give his support to this anti-science bill, but he is officially listed as a co-sponsor.
What it does tell me is that I know less about Bernie than I do about Hillary ...or for that matter, about Donald Trump.
So forgive me for being puzzled about how anyone can "Feel the Bern" because I don't have any idea how Bernie "feels" about most complex social issues, much less about the things for which the President is primarily responsible, such as the use of the military.
What I do know is that Bernie's kibbutz experience was in a communist affiliated kibbutz which will be a fun piece of information for whomever he would run against on the Republican side - it simply is a fact that will not sell well in Ohio in November.
More and more, I fear liberals are about to get Trump or Cruz elected.