For months, former supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders have been bullied, guilted and gaslighted into supporting the illicitly-nominated Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. In addition to using the entirely spurious claim that the warmongering queen of corruption is somehow less dangerous than her opponent Donald Trump, Hillary supporters (mostly paid shills, but some real supporters) have been telling progressives that they must support Hillary Clinton on the grounds that it’s what Bernie Sanders wants them to do.
Well, it turns out that one’s probably false, too. A newly released email from WikiLeaks’ Podesta files shows top-level Clinton campaign members discussing the “leverage” that they have over Sanders to control how he spoke about Hillary Clinton during the primary race in May of last year, and another shows them scheduling Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton and planning how they’ll use it to rally the progressive vote in December of last year.
The first Democratic primary votes weren’t cast until February of this year.
On May 26, 2015, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook sent an email to campaign chairman John Podesta titled “Sanders criticism” expressing displeasure at some mild insinuations the Vermont senator had made about the Clintons’ massive wealth. Mook is the same man the Observer reports was already conspiring to rig the Democratic primary in April of 2014 by manipulating the scheduling of state primaries, as evidenced by this email, also from the Podesta leaks.
“This isn’t in keeping w the agreement,” Mook wrote to Podesta of the supposed Sanders infraction. “Since we clearly have some leverage, would be good to flag this for him. I could send a signal via Welch–or did you establish a direct line w him?”
The aforementioned “Welch” is most likely Rep. Peter Welch, who was one of the first Democratic lawmakers to publicly endorse Sanders.
And what was this offensive “criticism” Senator Sanders leveled against Clinton that was so egregious as to warrant threatening him with whatever “leverage” they had over him?
It was pretty tame, actually. In the CNBC interview forwarded to Mook by a chain of campaign underlings, Sanders was asked by John Harwood over lunch at a Capitol Hill bistro what he thought the impact immense wealth could have on the policy-making decisions of an extremely rich politician like Hillary Clinton.
“Theoretically you can be a multibillionaire and in fact be very concerned about the issues of working people,” Sanders replied. “Theoretically that’s true. When you hustle money like that, you don’t sit in restaurants like this. You sit in restaurants where you spend, I don’t know what they spend, hundreds of dollars for dinner and so forth. That’s the world you are accustomed to. And that’s the worldview that you adopt. I’m not going to condemn Hillary and Bill Clinton because they’ve made a lot of money. That type of wealth has the potential to isolate you from the reality of the world.”
That’s it. Like a battered wife who gets thrown down the stairs for not making eye contact properly, that extremely obvious and innocuous statement is all it took to get the entire Hillary campaign freaking out and calling for Bernie’s head. That’s life in an abusive relationship. You get leveraged into agreements you should never have had to make in the first place in order to make a last-ditch, hail Mary attempt to rescue your country from the talons of an unfathomably corrupt warmongering Wall Street crony, and if you raise your head even a tiny bit, you get punched in the face.
Bernie did that for us. And he’s still doing it.
On December 9, 2015, Podesta was forwarded a memo from Mook detailing how they were planning on parading a defeated Bernie Sanders before progressive Democrats in order to gain the reluctant votes of the people who recognize her for the right-wing war hawk she is, after beating him in the insurmountably-rigged primary. In a PDF titled “Spring Earned Messaging Concept,” Mook relays that after the primaries he helped rig for Clinton, the agenda will be “communicating Democratic unity and using Sanders and others to help drive contrast and urgency,” as well as to “Demonstrate unity through POTUS, Sanders, O’M and other endorsements,” and to “be very aggressive about saying the primary has ended as early as possible,” as well as planning a “Sanders endorsement” under a column labeled “HRC events.”
They had to have felt pretty pretty confident that Bernie would support them after the primaries, even after treating him the way they knew they were about to treat him. What were they holding over him to make them feel so confident in his continued loyalty that they could just write him into their post-primary campaign schedule?
Again, this was months before a single primary vote had been cast. They had already planned to leverage Bernie into rallying progressives to Hillary, and another WikiLeaks email shows that they already had journalists who’d been posing as Bernie supporters queued up ready to flip and draw Berners to Hillary.
“I am doing the opposite, repeatedly writing friendly and positive pieces about Bernie as an HRC supporter, and when the time is right I will have money in the bank with him and his people as a liberal to urge them to come out in force to vote for HRC,” fake journalist Brent Budowsky wrote to Podesta in July of last year.
And we may be certain that Correct the Record had all its paid internet shills lined up and ready to do the same.
Whatever “leverage” these people have over Bernie, it’s clearly enough to force him to play right along with their plans.
So that explains a lot. Like why Bernie endorsed someone we all know in our guts is as evil as it gets for the highest political office on planet earth, despite our tears, despite our begging him not to. They had him. By whatever “leverage” they possessed over Senator Bernard Sanders, they had him. He could have kept his head down, kept to his work in the Senate and let Hillary run essentially unopposed against novelty muppet candidates like Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee, but he didn’t. He humbled himself, succumbed to all the chains and degradations they wrapped him in, and made his very best run against long, long odds with both hands tied behind his back out of love for his country and his grandchildren.
Which is heartbreaking to learn, but also probably a relief for a lot of people. Everyone who supported Bernie is now officially relieved of any obligation they may have felt to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton on November 8. We are all now officially relieved of any guilt, uncertainty or cognitive dissonance we may have felt around our reluctance to support the anointed ghoul queen. We now know that all Bernie’s talk about having “leverage” to force Hillary into a progressive agenda was something he himself was leveraged into saying, and that he is in no position to force any of those people to do anything.
Our Bernie does not support her. Our Bernie will not vote for her. He was coerced into the whole thing. A respected senator who has caucused with the Democrats for decades should never have been leveraged into any agreements in order to rescue his country from a tyrant and run for an office he is phenomenally qualified for in a ridiculously exclusionary two-party system, but that’s what happened. That’s what they did to our Bernie.
We will never, ever feel under any obligation to play along with any of their deceitful stories again.
[Featured Image by Andrew Harnik/AP Images]