The gaping holes in Bernie Sanders convention speech
By Peter Ewart
Some important things got left out of Bernie Sanders’ speech to the Democratic Convention on July 25th. In fact, they are gaping holes in his endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president.
For example, he went on about how a plank had been added into the party platform that would bring about a “21st Century Glass-Steagall Act” to regulate the big banks. But he didn’t mention that it was President Bill Clinton (with the support of Hillary) who actually revoked the original Glass-Steagall Act deregulating the banks and paving the way for the catastrophic financial and housing crisis of 2007-2008.
In his speech, Sanders claimed that Hillary Clinton “understands that millions of seniors, disabled vets and others are struggling with the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs.” What he did not mention is that the VP that Clinton has picked, Tim Kaine, has received huge donations from the Big Pharma corporations and is considered by some to be a shill for the industry (1).
Sanders also claimed that the party platform also calls for “strong opposition to job-killing free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP].” But what he didn’t clarify is that the party platform committee, which is dominated by Clinton supporters, was successful in eliminating specific clauses opposing the TPP (2). Why would the Clintonites do this? Do they anticipate Hillary Clinton reversing her current anti-TPP position once she becomes president? Governor Terry McAuliffe, part of Clinton’s inner circle, appears to think this is likely, although he was forced to back down on July 26 after claiming in an interview that, contrary to what she has claimed, Clinton would support the TPP once elected as president (3).
Another gaping hole in Sanders’ speech is that he made no mention of the leaked emails revealing that the Clinton-controlled Democratic National Committee, which was supposed to be neutral in the state primary elections, actively worked against him and his campaign for the last year. Then, during the Convention proceedings, the Clintonites had the gall to insist that Sanders supporters be “respectful of the democratic process”. Yet Bernie said nothing about this hypocrisy and the rigging of the Clinton nomination at his campaign’s expense.
In the course of his speech, Sanders was, in effect, trying to square a circle and accomplish an impossible task. At the end of his comments, he said, with a straight face to the Convention delegates: “Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her tonight.” How can such a statement be reconciled with his previous sharp criticisms of Clinton as a shill for Wall Street and the big banks, for the multinational corporations who push for predatory trade deals, and for a corrupt electoral financing process? It can’t be and it wasn’t. For Sanders’ supporters and many Americans, there is a serious trust issue with Clinton that won’t be overcome by an endorsement from Sanders or, for that matter, the fairy tale speech made by Bill Clinton about Hillary and their “love story” on the evening of July 26, which had its own glaring omissions.
But perhaps the biggest hole of all in Sanders’ comments was that he said nothing about the danger of US war preparations and the Bush / Obama push for “regime change” and aggression abroad. He talked about all sorts of things from poverty and income disparity, to health care, education and a broken criminal justice system. Nothing at all about the danger of an aggressive, out-of-control US foreign policy that has brought death, destruction and ruin to the Middle East and has ramped up tensions everywhere. Nothing at all about Clinton’s terrible and destructive record as advocate for the invasion of Iraq, destruction of Libya, overthrow of sovereign governments, and ramping up of hostilities with Russia and other countries.
Increasing numbers of Americans, whether they vote Democratic, Republican, Independent or some other party, are opposed to the endless wars and the trillions of dollars thrown into the bottomless pit of war spending in the U.S. Many of these are Sanders supporters. Why did Sanders not speak to and for them? Why did he leave them stranded?
Is there a long game being played here to line up progressives and others fed up with predatory wars behind the war hawk Clinton? There are a lot of signs showing that the dominant sectors of the US Establishment and the military-industrial complex want to bring in Clinton as president, and, if she is able to assemble broad support and pull off a convincing win, to use that to ramp up war tensions against Russia, China, Iran and possibly other countries that refuse to go along with US dictate. These are dangerous times, more dangerous than many might realize.
That being said, besides the opposition of a significant number of Convention delegates to the Hillary coronation, the one bright spot in the Convention was the nomination speech for Sanders delivered by Democratic Congresswoman and army veteran, Tulsi Gabbard, who at least had the principle and gumption to speak out against the US government policy of regime change and who, unlike other leading Democrats, did not endorse Clinton in her remarks.
Gabbard has been especially critical of Clinton’s foreign policy, and resigned previously as vice-chairperson for the Democratic National Committee over what she saw as its undemocratic practices and blatant bias towards Clinton.
Peter Ewart is a columnist and writer based in Prince George, British Columbia. He can reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Johnson, Dave. “Democratic platform committee undermines Clinton on TPP”. Common Dreams. June 28, 2016.
- Lipton, Eric. “As pick for No. 2, Tim Kaine sees gifts come under scrutiny.” New York Times. July 24, 2016.