Independent Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is calling for unity and warning a well-known liberal think tank against smearing progressives, The New York Times reports.
In a strongly-worded letter obtained by the publication, Sanders reflected on what appears to be an ideological battle within the Democratic Party — a political feud between Clintonist neoliberals and party leadership, and progressives. Sanders wrote to the Clinton-supporting Center for American Progress, and its sister group, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, urging the think tanks to end “bad-faith smears.”
“This counterproductive negative campaigning needs to stop,” he wrote.
“The Democratic primary must be a campaign of ideas, not of bad-faith smears. Please help play a constructive role in the effort to defeat Donald Trump.”
Sanders wrote the letter in response to a video published by ThinkProgress, a publication backed by the action fund. Titled “Bernie’s millionaire problem,” the video — which has been posted to YouTube — is a montage of Bernie Sanders’ statements about taxing the wealthy, juxtaposed with graphs of his income, clearly meant to suggest that the Vermont senator is changing his rhetoric, and backtracking on wanting to tax millionaires.
The video has been viewed over 20,000 times, but it has not been well-received, based on reactions by the YouTube community. The video has received a little over 100 likes so far, and it has been disliked 1,500 times. Sanders has already pushed back against the video, according to CNN, explaining that the majority of his wealth comes from book sales.
As the New York Times notes, the tension between the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party — its leadership — and the party’s left wing is not new. It culminated during the 2016 primary, when Clinton-supporting managers and delegates “rigged” the race against Bernie Sanders, essentially stealing the nomination from him, according to his supporters.
As for @neeratanden's claim she has no role in what CAP's ThinkProgress publishes, read CAP's internal emails where Neera repeatedly forced TP to stop criticizing Israel in response to angry donors. TP has negotiated more freedom but the history is clear: https://t.co/JUIGI5HUyj— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 14, 2019
The think tank, which is now running a negative campaign against Bernie Sanders, was founded in 2003 by former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Podesta has long opposed Bernie Sanders, once stating that the Vermont senator needs to be “ground to a pulp,” according to Business Insider.
In his letter, Sanders criticized the Center for American Progress’ leader Neera Tanden, pointing out that she continues to call for party unity while running a negative campaign against him.
“Center for American Progress leader Neera Tanden repeatedly calls for unity while simultaneously maligning my staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas,” Sanders wrote.
Hmm... ThinkProgress reports today that Bernie Sanders' frumpy clothing is a problematic example of white privilege. pic.twitter.com/1JTV8J9r6j— Lee Fang (@lhfang) April 11, 2019
“I worry that the corporate money CAP is receiving is inordinately and inappropriately influencing the role it is playing in the progressive movement,” he added.