Friday, July 29, 2016

Snoping Snopes on Sanders

Conservative Outfitters has published an article headlined, "Bernie Sanders has Left the Democratic Party". In it they say the following:
"Another black eye for the Democratic Party as Bernie Sanders announces a huge change. In 2015 Sanders announced he was no longer an Independent and intended to run as a Democrat in all future elections. Sanders quickly changed his mind after leaked documents appear to show the Democratic Party unfairly worked to elect Hillary Clinton. " subsequently labeled this claim as "Mostly False". Quoting Senator Sanders, "I was elected as an independent; I’ll stay two years more as an independent," Kim LaCapria, writing for Snopes, concludes: "So while it's true Sanders was returning to his Senate seat as an Independent, it is not true that he 'left the party' to protest any leaked information."

BZZZZZT! Wrong answer!

The problem here is that Kim LaCapria is dead wrong with that "Mostly False".

First of all, the claim she's "debunking" is pedestrian. It's just that Sanders left the party, and that he's unhappy with the leadership. The Conservative Outfitters article links to a Clinton-biased article on Heatstreet confirming that this announcement was made during the convention.

But LaCapria add the condition that Sanders did not formally "leave", and further concludes that he did not do so in protest.

There's no party registration in Vermont, so one can neither "formally leave" nor formally join the Democratic Party there. Party affiliation is more a matter of stated intentions and action. In 2015, Sanders very publicly changed his party affiliation. The article that she's allegedly debunking actually links to the Wikipedia article that details that change of affiliation. Here it is. I submit to you that there is no greater indication of formal intent and action than offering yourself as the Party's nominee for President of the United States.

In this Washington Post article of August 27th, 2015, Sanders explains his reason for running as a Democrat: “The reason for that is I do not want to be responsible for electing some right-wing Republican to be president of the United States.” Remember that, it's important.

On November 8th, 2015, Sanders cemented the deal. Here is the transcript of ABC This Week in which Sanders (the in-studio guest) announced, "I am a Democrat now." This reinforced what he said to the Burlington Free Press three days prior when he declared as a Democrat in New Hampshire's primary.

In that same ABC This Week transcript, Sanders described his goals:
"What I am trying to do, with some success, is bring out large numbers of young people who are saying, you know what, we're going to recreate America. We're going to transform America and create an economy that works for all of us, not just the billionaire class. We're going to get rid of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision and create a vibrant democracy, so that we don't have the lowest voter turnout of almost zany major country on Earth, but one of the largest and strongest voter turnouts."

Remember that bit about voter turnout. It's also important.

In using this Wall Street Journal article to explain their "Mostly False" conclusion, Snopes leans heavily on the quote, "I was elected as an independent; I’ll stay two years more as an independent." They conveniently neglect all of the history I've just related to you, as well as the further Sanders quote from this same WSJ article (which they themselves quote):
"Speaking at the Bloomberg Politics breakfast on Tuesday, Mr. Sanders also said the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee doesn’t go far enough in fixing the situation and that more staff members need to leave following embarrassing disclosures of thousands of internal emails.
“We need a DNC which has as very different direction,” he said. “I honestly don’t know many of the people there. But my guess is we’re going to need new leadership, a new direction and new personnel.”

A friend suggested to me that Sanders' return to independence "was always the plan", as Sanders could not have accomplished as much as an Independent. While I agree that Sanders' exposure was dependent on his Democratic affiliation (he couldn't have found his way into national debates without it) I beg to differ on the "always the plan" part.

  • It was never Sanders' plan to lose and go back to being Independent. 
  • Nor was it his plan to get elected as a Democrat and then drop the Democratic Party.
  • While it may have been his contingency to continue in the Senate as an Independent in the event of a loss despite what he told the election commissions, it was never his plan to suppress the Democratic Party votes in this election.

If you think I'm in error on any of that, show me that plan. I accept transcripts, video, or audio of Sanders' words.

Now I'm going to ask the rest of you to employ some logic.
  • Prior to the leaked DNC emails, Sanders publicly and unambiguously stated, "I am a Democrat now". He did not want to spoil the election in favor of a Republican. And as you'll remember, he also stated his intention of maximizing voter turnout. 
  • He felt so strongly about these things that he bit the bullet, "took one for the good of the Party," and endorsed Hillary Clinton. Not only that, at the convention he moved that she be nominated by acclamation. 
  • Post-leak, he no longer says, "I am a Democrat." He publicly criticizes the Party. And he announces that he is returning to Independent status. If you're looking for a formal declaration of severance in Vermont, that's as close as it gets.
Now, he knows that this will suppress the vote. He knows that it will damage Hillary's campaign. He could have minimized that damage by waiting until after the election to announce his independence. He chose not to do so. I submit that he would have waited and played the supportive Democrat game until election day had he been treated fairly and honorably by the DNC, and his premature return to Independent status coupled with criticism of the DNC leadership has no explanation other than that of protest.

So I'm calling Snopes "snoped". There's no "Mostly False" about it. 

In fact, I'd call it "Mostly True", with the "mostly" in there simply because he didn't engrave "I PROTEST" in gold leaf and have it delivered on a silver tray.

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