Monday, July 20, 2015

Berned In The Past

It's nice of the Washington Post to remember that Bernie Sanders first became a Senator from Vermont with more than a little help from Wayne LaPierre and the NRA.

A few days before Election Day in 1990, the National Rifle Association sent a letter to its 12,000 members in Vermont, with an urgent message about the race for the state’s single House seat.

Vote for the socialist, the gun rights group said. It’s important.

“Bernie Sanders is a more honorable choice for Vermont sportsmen than ­Peter Smith,” wrote Wayne LaPierre, who was — and still is — a top official at the national NRA, backing Sanders over the Republican incumbent.

That was odd. Sanders was the ex-hippie ex-mayor of Burlington, running as an independent because the Democrats weren’t far enough left. He had never even owned a gun.

But that year, he was the enemy of the NRA’s enemy.

Smith had changed his mind about a ban on ­assault weapons. The NRA and its allies wanted him beaten. They didn’t much care who beat him.

“It is not about Peter Smith vs. Bernie Sanders,” LaPierre wrote, according to news coverage from the time. “It is about integrity in politics.”

Today, Sanders is a senator and a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, drawing huge crowds with his calls to break up big banks, increase taxes on the rich and make college free. The election of 1990 launched him. When Sanders won, he became the first socialist in Congress since the 1950s.

That campaign also marked the beginning of Sanders’s complicated relationship with the ­issue of gun rights — the one area where Sanders’s Democratic presidential rivals have been able to attack him from the left.

Having said that, Sanders currently has a big fat F from the NRA on guns, and has voted for banning high-capacity magazines and against decreasing the federal waiting period on guns from 3 days to 24 hours.

On the other hand, Sanders has voted to allow firearms in carry-on bags on Amtrak trains, and voted several times to protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits.  It is a complicated relationship, and it's one that Sanders has to answer for as far as I'm concerned.


djchefron said...

Even though I am for gun control that battle has been lost. What I want t know is how will he break up the banks without damaging the economy? How will he implement single payer when his own state failed? How would he get money out of politics? How would he fund this free college for all?

Horace Boothroyd III said...

Call me skeptical, but I have to wonder if this is not just another cunning scheme to reorganize the EU - with France in charge this time.

I say that, because from what I hear the political arm of the EU is doing fine. The problem lies in the economic arm, where the fiscal policy wing and the monetary policy wing are dangerously out of alignment. We have our difficulties here in America, where the asshole Republicans have obstructed anything with a whiff of fiscal stimulus about it, but we at least have automatic structural stabilizers that prevent joke states like Vermont, Wyoming and Mississippi from combusting spontaneously and setting fire to the rest of the country. Certainly it rankles, chipping in all these federal tax dollars in a productive state with a sound economy, but I console myself that this buys us all a measure of freedom and democracy.

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