Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
“I’ll probably vote for Bernie,” Joe Rogan told listeners. “He’s been insanely consistent his entire life. He’s basically been saying the same thing, been the same thing his whole life.”
The podcaster was repeating a popular myth about Bernie Sanders.
Sanders has been the same thing his entire life. A political activist or a politician. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in political science and began his political career not long after moving to Vermont. He’s either been running for political office or holding political office for 48 years.
Over those nearly 50 years, he’s said a lot of insanely inconsistent things.
In 1971, he argued that it was a disgrace that there were so many millionaires in the Senate.
“Nobody should earn more than a million dollars,” he said in 1974. When he first ran for the Senate, he called for a 100% tax on wealth of over $1 million a year. These days, that’s just how much he makes.
“I wrote a best-selling book,” he told off critics. “If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.”
Millionaires suck and should have all their money taken away. Until you become one.
But that’s just an inflation issue. Right? These days Bernie opposes billionaires instead of millionaires. And if he somehow became a billionaire, he would almost certainly give away all his money to the poor.
You can tell because the first year he made a million bucks, he gave a whole 1 percent of it to charity.
Bernie is a real 1 percenter.
But forget the money. Washington D.C. is full of guys who came there to fight corruption and then cashed in. Nobody’s too surprised when politicians find ways to cash in, like Sanders did with the Sanders Institute which employed his wife and stepkids to ‘institute’ whatever it is Sanders does.
What about his actual political beliefs? Has Bernie been saying the “same thing” his whole life?
Bernie Sanders moved from Vermont to Washington D.C. because a little organization called the NRA sent out a letter to its members telling them, “Bernie Sanders is a more honorable choice for Vermont sportsmen than Peter Smith.” Bernie ended up voting against a seven-day waiting period to buy guns, against the Brady Bill, and voted for a bill to protect firearms manufacturers from lawsuits.
And there’s nothing wrong with that except that now Bernie keeps talking about taking on the NRA.
But Bernie’s pitch to a gun rights group was, “I won’t change my views on the subject.”
That’s the same pitch that Joe Rogan fell for. Except that Bernie changes his mind when it’s politically convenient. And it doesn’t take 48 years for him to change his mind. Try a decade.
In 2005, he voted for The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a bill backed by the NRA to stop lawsuits against firearms manufacturers. In 2016, when it became an issue in the Democrat primaries, he agreed to cosponsor a bill to repeal that protection.
“If you passed the strongest gun control legislation tomorrow, I don’t think it will have a profound effect on the tragedies we have seen,” Bernie Sanders had argued in 2013.
Fast forward 5 years and Bernie Sanders blamed school shootings on a “three-letter word”.
“It’s the NRA,” the elderly socialist ranted. “And it’s Trump and the Republicans who don’t have the guts to stand up to these people and that’s pretty pathetic.”
Pretty pathetic indeed.
It’s not that Bernie Sanders evolved over his two generations in public life. Just as with the NRA, he adopted positions for political convenience and then jettisoned them when they became inconvenient.
These positions were often somewhat conservative, balancing out his socialist class warfare with common sense views that would help enlist the support of more conservative voters in Vermont.
In 2015, when Bernie was asked about “sharply raising the level of immigration we permit”, he retorted with, “Open borders? No, that’s a Koch brothers proposal.” He went on to argue that, “It would make everybody in America poorer —you’re doing away with the concept of a nation state.”
That argument could have and would come from Donald J. Trump. And the backlash was severe. The transition from open borders opponent to open borders advocate didn’t take years, it took months.
His current immigration plan calls for abolishing immigration enforcement, breaking up ICE and CBP, ending detention of illegal migrants, ending border enforcement, legalizing sanctuary cities, and allowing migrants who come here for welfare and for just about any and every reason.
Who knew Bernie was one of the Koch brothers?
“One of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics,” Bernie had suggested in 2016. It didn’t take long for Bernie to embrace identity politics. He went from not wanting to talk about race, to compulsively running on race.
“Do I think we need some more jails? Yup. Do I think we have to get tougher in certain instances? Yes, I do,” Bernie Sanders said, when discussing the 1994 crime bill that he supported. “So what you have is a balance here. You have more money going to law enforcement, more money going into jails. You have, on the other hand, significant sums of money going into prevention.”
That’s another common sense position that he has completely disavowed.
These days, Bernie denounces the “prison-industrial-complex”, calls for an end to bail, and proposes cutting the national prison population in half, which would put dangerous criminals back on the street.
At a CNN town hall, he even suggested that the Muslim terrorist who set off a bomb at the Boston Marathon should be able to vote from prison.
Most people took that as a typically radical Bernie position. But it’s a radically inconsistent one.
Bernie has been an inconsistent flip-flopper on gun control, on immigration, on identity politics, and on crime. The only two places he has been consistent is on class warfare and national defense.
And even there, he’s been inconsistent on class warfare once he made it to the 1 percent.
Sandernistas launched his campaign by sharing pictures of him flying coach. Once the money began coming in, he was flying luxury jets as often as he could. The jets remained a sore point with other Democrats. As impeachment got underway, Bernie’s campaign plotted to use more private jets.
That’s not just personal hypocrisy, it’s environmental hypocrisy for the Green New Deal candidate.
When it comes to his own personal interests, Bernie can’t even consistently identify which party he belongs to. When he first ran for president, on the Democrat line, he denied that he was a Democrat.
“No, I am an Independent,” he said.
By the summer, he’d come around. “I am a Democrat obviously,” he told USA Today. “That’s where I am and that’s where I’ll stay.”
“Do you consider yourself a Democrat?” he was asked next year.
“No, I am an Independent,” he replied.
This year, he signed a DNC loyalty pledge, stating, “I am a member of the Democratic Party.”
Meanwhile he also filed to run for Senate as an Independent.
That’s insanely inconsistent.
Bernie is whatever he wants to be. He can be a Democrat and an Independent. A millionaire and an opponent of millionaires. He can denounce open borders and support them. He can support more prisons and call for freeing all the inmates. He can support and oppose guns when convenient.
What the elderly socialist isn’t is principled.
Few politicians can spend 48 years in politics and remain principled. Bernie isn’t one of them. Like most politicians, he has a few pet issues he strongly believes in, but not when they interfere with his career. Between 2013 and 2020, he tossed away his positions on multiple issues without blinking an eye.
Bernie is no more principled than the other senators running in 2020. That’s just another one of his lies.