It's Pretty Rich for Bernie Sanders to Complain about Democratic Party Favoritism

I'll be blunt:I am sick to death of Bernie Sanders complaining about Democratic party favoritism.

I am sick of him delegitimizing every single Hillary Clinton victory by moaning that the Democratic Party's processes are "rigged," that someone is putting their "thumb on the scale" or whatever ludicrous whinge he has today.

Because Bernie Sanders is more than fine with Democratic party favoritism. He's down with it. He luxuriates in it. He wears it. He eats it for breakfast, possibly daily, topped with cream and fine Vermont maple syrup.

Let's be clear: Democratic party favoritism and a rigged system has kept Bernie Sanders in Washington for the last quarter century.

In the 1990 House race, Bernie Sanders faced a vulnerable Republican candidate, incumbent Peter Smith. He also faced a Democrat, professor Dolores Sandoval. The Vermont Democratic Party actively discouraged Sandoval from running, as is documented by the FEC complaint file about Sandoval's dispute with former staffer Peter Freyne.

As early as March, 1990, according to Sandoval, the Chair of the Vermont Democratic Party, Violet Coffin, was discouraging her from running because of the "strength of the Socialist candidate." In a March 29 letter to Coffin, Sandoval also protests the remarks of party executive director Craig Fuller, who had described the Democratic primary candidates as weak, which, as Sandoval wrote in her letter, "shut the gate after the first two male candidates emerged." Several democrats demanded that Fuller lose his position, but as an April1, 1990 story in the Burlington Free Press notes, he kept his job.

"The strength of the Socialist candidate." Gee, who could that be? The fact is that Sanders had acted as a spoiler in 1988, running as in Independent and drawing enough votes away from the Democratic ticket that Smith, the Republican, was able to win. Rather than cut off their nose to spite their face, the Vermont Dems clearly did the pragmatic thing in 1990, and quietly supported Sanders. One Republican down, and one liberal ally in office.

And did Bernie Sanders complain? Did he sputter with outrage that the Vermont Democratic establishment turned its back on Ms. Sandoval, a very liberal candidate, someone who could have been the first black woman to represent Vermont in Congress? Did he wax angrily on about the corrupt, rigged system? Did he thunder righteously at the way outsiders were being oppressed?

He did not.

He accepted the tacit endorsements of the Dems, the help of the NRA, and Mr. Sanders went to Washington.

Oh, but it did not stop there. Have a gander at Sanders' electoral history. Notice that for most of the years he was in Congress, no one with a D beside their name even ran against him. And when they did? Well, in 2004,Larry Drown was described as "not campaigning actively," and seems to have had no Democratic support. In 1996, Bernie Sanders declined to endorse Independent Ralph Nader (much to Nader's pissy dismay) and instead enthusiastically campaigned for Bill Clinton. Liberty Union party member Will Miller noted that that Sanders enjoyed the favor of the Vermont Democratic Party leadership and was seated on the stage at Clinton events in 1996. Meanwhile, The guy running with a "D," Jack Long, had to sit in the crowd. And in 1992, when "upstart Democrat" Lew Young ran against Bernie, the party headquarters was cheering Bernie on election night, not Young. Sounds like a pattern to me.

And did brave, untouchable Bernie Sanders renounce this "corrupt bargain" when he ran for the Senate? Did he fulminate against backroom deals, the evils of Democrats, and strike out his path as an Independent of perfect purity? He did not.

In 2006, the chair of the state Vermont Democratic party, Ian Carleton, explained to the press that the party was openly supporting Bernie:

State Democratic leaders are spearheading efforts to gather signatures to put Sanders on the ballot as a Democrat, even though Sanders has repeatedly said he would turn down the party's nomination if he wins the primary. At least three other candidates have announced their intention to run for the Democratic nomination in the Sept. 12 primary, but party leaders prefer Sanders to any of them.

Ian Carleton, the chairman of the Vermont Democratic Party, said the party's efforts to secure the nomination for Sanders is a concession to political reality: Polls indicate that Sanders is so popular in Vermont that no Democrat has a real chance of beating him.

Carleton added that Sanders has largely supported Democratic priorities and was the only candidate to ask for the state party committee's endorsement.If Sanders wins the Democratic nomination but declines it, he will go head-to-head with the Republican candidate. Since the Democrats technically won't have a candidate on the ballot, Sanders won't have to contend with a third candidate who could siphon votes away from him. Sanders, a self- described ``democratic socialist," has typically voted with Democrats during his eight terms as Vermont's sole House member.

Hmmm... where are Bernie's cries for an open competition? Where are his denouncements of a clearly rigged process? Somebody was complaining. It just wasn't Bernie:

Still, the party's decision to shun self-described Democrats in Vermont has led some to accuse their leaders of rigging the election. Peter Moss, a retired chemical engineer who announced last week that he will run for the Democratic Senate nomination, called the party establishment's support for Sanders ``highly unethical" and unfair to outsider candidates. ``If you're not a longstanding member of the clique, you're not only out, but they'll keep you out," Moss said.


*whispers* does he know?

Bernie turned down the Democratic nomination in order to officially run as an Independent, but the Vermont Dems nominated no one else and actively campaigned for Sanders. And in return for working so closely with, and mostly voting with, the Democrats, Bernie landed some plum committee assignments in 2006, assignments that could have gone to an actual Democrat by party custom and protocol, but instead were "rigged" to go to Sanders. Oh, and what's that? In 2012, he got to actually chair a committee? What a complete and total outsider in the halls of power!

Look, my point is not that Bernie Sanders is corrupt, at least not by my standards. This is all smart politics, and he's been able to carve out an incredibly unique space in the American political landscape. I don't begrudge him this. But let's call it what it is: a rigged system, and, yes, a system that functions to keep different people, actual outsiders, from ever even having a shot at Sanders' seat. (Vermont is one of only three states that have never elected a Congresswoman. It has never elected a person of color to Congress, nor an openly queer person, nor....)

But, it's an arrangement that's had benefits for the both the Democrats and for Sanders, and that's how politics works. It's meant a reliable, usually liberal, vote rather than a Republican one. I don't begrudge that to either side.

What I do begrudge is Bernie Sanders' incessant moaning about "rigged" Democratic party processes, about insiders, about party officials who are eeeevil oligarchs bent on keeping the little guy out of power. Bernie Sanders is actually fine with all of that. As long as it benefits him.

Like Claude Rains in Casablanca, he's shocked, shocked that there is gambling in the establishment, even as he pockets his winnings. What's sad is that he's taken so many people for a ride, convincing them that he's somehow a magical outsider, a critic of a system he's actually been on the inside of for 26 years. I can't decide if he's a monumental hypocrite, or whether he believes his own bullshit.

Because here's the thing. Maybe an actual Democratic Party primary DOES feel unfair to Sanders. After all, he's never actually had to win one. He's always gotten his name on the D-ticket, effectively, without having to compete.

There's definitely someone in this race who is used to showing up and getting a coronation from the Democrats. Someone who is totally out of their depth when faced with a very liberal opponent who is not taking this for granted. Someone who is acting hugely entitled and freaking out because they actually have to follow the rules of the party whose nomination they want.

And that Someone is not named Hillary Clinton.

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