Democrat 2020 presidential primary frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders seemed hellbent on ending his candidacy early this week when he endorsed giving still-imprisoned rapists, terrorists, and murderers under sentence of death like Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev the right to vote.
Sanders’ comments were the latest in a free-wheeling Democrat contest in which nearly every day brings a policy proposal kookier than the last, whether it is the Green New Deal, which would deindustrialize and pauperize America, the bankrupting “Medicare for All” proposal, or gun control by executive order.
The remarks by Sanders prompted Hollywood left-winger Cher to tweet denunciations of the senator to her millions of Twitter followers.
“Does Bernie Sanders really believe [people] in prison who are murderers!? Rapists!? Child Molesters!? Boston bombers… still deserve the right to vote!?”
Cher, who recently tweeted that Los Angeles should tend to its homeless before welcoming in those who seek asylum, wrote that convicted child molesters, rapists, and murderers of any race shouldn’t be able to “keep [their] right to vote.”
The singer was responding to a townhall meeting broadcast by CNN April 22 at which Harvard student Anne Carlstein asked the self-described socialist senator from Vermont if he supports “enfranchising people” such as “those convicted of sexual assault,” as well as Tsarnaev, whom she described as a “convicted terrorist and murderer.”
Tsarnaev, a Muslim immigrant from Kyrgyzstan, was convicted and sent to death row for the April 15, 2013 pressure-cooker bombing close to the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three people died and many more were injured.
Sanders walked right into the trap, answering in the affirmative.
The senator said:
And let me just say this. What our campaign is about and what I believe is creating a vibrant democracy. Today, as you may know, we have one of the lowest voter turnouts of any major country on Earth. I want to see us have one of the highest voter turnouts.
And by the way, what we are seeing is more young people getting involved in the political process, but not enough. And in my view, if young people voted at the same percentage that older people voted in this country, we would transform this nation.
But to get to your point. We live in a moment where cowardly Republican governors are trying to suppress the vote. And in fact, right here, as you may know, in New Hampshire, the Legislature and the governor are working hard to make it more difficult for young people to vote.
And to me, that is incredibly undemocratic, un-American process, and I say to those people, by the way, if you don't have the guts to participate in free and fair elections, you should get another job and get out of politics.
All right? So, here is -- to answer your question:
As it happens, in my own state of Vermont, from the very first days of our state's history, what our constitution says is that everybody can vote. That is true. So people in jail can vote.
Now here is my view. If somebody commits a serious crime -- sexual assault, murder, they're going to be punished. They may be in jail for 10 years, 20 years, 50 years, their whole lives. That's what happens when you commit a serious crime.
But I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy. Yes, even for terrible people. Because once you start chipping away and you say, well, that guy committed a terrible crime, not going to let him vote; well, that person did that; not going to let that person vote -- you're running down a slippery slope.
So I believe that people who commit crimes, they pay the price. When they get out of jail, I believe they certainly should have the right to vote. But I do believe, even if they are in jail, they're paying their price to society, but that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy.
Sanders acknowledged to host Chris Cuomo that his answer could hurt his chances in the election.
“Well, Chris, I think I have written many 30-second opposition ads throughout my life. This will be just another one,” Sanders said.
But I do believe – look -- this is what I believe. Do you believe in democracy? Do you believe that every single American 18 years of age or older who is an American citizen has the right to vote?
Once you start chipping away at that – believe me, that's what our Republican governors all over this country are doing -- they're coming up with all kinds of excuses why people of color, young people, poor people can't vote, and I will do everything I can to resist it.
This is a democracy -- we’ve got to expand that democracy, and I believe every single person does have the right to vote.
Cher isn’t the only public figure to call out Sanders.
Former CNN host and DailyMail.com editor-at-large Piers Morgan told Tucker Carlson on Fox News Channel that Sanders’ remarks were “utter lunacy.”
“I couldn't really believe what I was hearing. This is a guy, frontrunner as you said, to be the potential nominee for the Democratic Party to beat Donald Trump, that's their plan and what they want to do. And their main selling point right now on a CNN townhall is they want the Boston Marathon bomber to be able to vote while he is in prison? While he is on death row?"
Sanders in leading the pack in the race for the Democrats’ presidential nomination in New Hampshire, home of the first-in-the-nation primaries, according to a University of New Hampshire Granite State Poll released earlier this week.
Sanders garnered 30 percent support from likely Democratic primary voters, beating former Vice President Joe Biden (18 percent), South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (15 percent), Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (5 percent), Sen. Kamala Harris of California (4 percent), Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas (3 percent). Tied at 2-percent support were Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, and New York entrepreneur Andrew Yang. Tied at 1-percent support were Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Eric Swalwell of California, and Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam.
But the primaries in New Hampshire are still 10 months away.
Anything can happen.