Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with a picture of Bernie Sanders and interviewing it.
Just to be ABSOLUTELY CLEAR, this is not a real interview. I am asking the questions and then answering them the way I believe that Bernie would answer them. It is for entertainment purposes, but not ONLY for entertainment purposes.
My goal with this interview is to illuminate why I believe that Bernie made some of the choices that he made. I am, in no way, trying to say that these are Bernie’s actual thoughts on the following matters. But as Bernie refuses to comment on many of these issues, the answers reflect my speculation on what actually happened.
The Independent Thinker: Hey Bernie! Thanks for being here today.
Bernie Sanders: I’m happy to be here.
Indie: You look great. You were starting to look pretty tired there towards the end of the campaign.
Bernie: Thank you. To be honest. I was getting kind of tired. I’ve been getting more sleep lately.
Indie: Let’s get right to the tough questions. Do you feel that Hillary Clinton’s win in the Democratic primary was legitimate?
Bernie: Secretary Clinton received 3,000,000 more votes than we did. I believe that makes her the winner.
Indie: Okay, but you’re not really here. You’re just a picture, so if we could do away with some of the stock answers and just be completely honest, that’s what my readers are looking for. So I ask you again, do you feel that you lost the primary legitimately?
Bernie: Off the record?
Indie: Sure, I’m willing to lie and say ‘off the record’.
Bernie: Well in that case, there appeared to be some shenanigans taking place all over the country. I believe we had more voters in Kentucky and I believe exit polling showed a wide disparity in Massachusetts and in several other states.
Indie: So you are finally willing to say that the results of the primary were rigged?
Bernie: Off the record, I’m willing to say that some of the results should have been looked at a little deeper, yes.
Indie: Bernie, you are a picture. Hillary Clinton cannot have you killed. The worst thing that I can imagine happening is that maybe she would send some of her goons over here to rip up the picture. So can you stop being so diplomatic, just for the sake of the interview? Or I can just keep lying to you and saying ‘off the record’ if you prefer?
Bernie: I actually prefer that.
Indie: Okay, then the whole interview is off the record. Just know that I love you and it pains me to lie to you.
Bernie: That’s very nice. Thank you.
Bernie: Look. I don’t want to mince words here. Secretary Clinton had access to the same voter information that we had. You were a canvasser. Is that correct?
Indie: Yes I was.
Bernie: Do you want to explain to your readers what you were able to see on your canvassing app?
Indie: Sure. Through the app, we could see the addresses of the voters, how they were registered and who they intended to vote for.
Bernie: And what did you do with that information?
Indie: We were instructed to knock on the doors of the registered Democrats and Independents, depending on what state we were in, who were “undecided” and tell them why they should vote for you.
Bernie: So you knew before each primary who was planning on voting for me and who was planning on voting for Secretary Clinton?
Indie: Yes. In fact on election day in Indiana, people were freaking out, because initially you were down by 10 points. People kept calling me. I told them all the same thing. I told them that you were going to win Marion County by a landslide and that ultimately you would win the state by about five points.
Bernie: And how much did we win by?
Indie: Five points.
Bernie: Secretary Clinton’s team had access to the same information you did.
Indie: So what happened then? The exit polling was way off in many states. Are you saying that the DNC had the votes flipped at the machines?
Bernie: I’m saying that, judging by exit polling, it appears that there were disparities.
Indie: Even off the record, your answers are pretty reserved.
Bernie: Would you like me to be more EXTREME?!! (with this Bernie lunges forward in his chair with wide eyes and expands his hands wildly.)
Indie: No. I appreciate your honesty. Moving on…you won 22 states. But I definitely noticed some odd trends. For example, you would win by a landslide in states like Utah, Colorado and New Mexico, then across the border in Arizona and Texas, you lost by a landslide. My theory is that Clinton’s team conceded the states with low delegate counts and only rigged the states with high delegate counts. Your thoughts?
Bernie: Different states have different demographics. Secretary Clinton did very well among Latinos in Arizona and Texas.
Indie: Fair enough. But what about the closed polling stations in Arizona? And remember, this is off the record.
Bernie: What happened in Arizona was a disgrace to Democracy. People waiting five hours in the heat, just to cast their vote? That’s not what America is about. That’s not what Democracy is about.
Indie: But do you feel that the DNC was behind the closed polling stations?
Bernie: I honestly don’t know, but anyone who makes it difficult for people to vote is a political coward.
Indie: And what about New York? Many of us believe that New York was the turning point of the election. 3.2 million registered voters were unable to vote for you there, due to being registered as Independent. There were thousands of people who claimed that their registrations were switched to Republican or back to Independent, after they had switched to Democrat in order to vote for you. Your thoughts?
Bernie: What happened in New York is that the state had a closed primary, with some kind of a ridiculously long period, something like six months ahead of time, required to switch your party registration in order to participate. As a result, millions of New York voters who wanted to vote for our campaign, were unable to, due to the fact that they were not registered with the Democratic Party. This is a very exclusive club. They don’t want just anybody voting in it.
Indie: So you are saying that you feel New York was a legitimate win for Clinton?
Bernie: We knew the rules when we got involved. We decided that our best course of action was to run under the Democratic Party rules and we knew that closed primaries were part of that. Would I like to see open primaries in every state in the union? Yes, but we knew the deck was stacked when we declared our candidacy.
Indie: Do you consider closed primaries to be undemocratic?
Bernie: They are “closed” to millions of voters. By their very definition they are undemocratic.
Indie: Did you ever consider saying publicly that you thought that there was election fraud?
Bernie: It’s a very complex issue. We challenged in Kentucky and the recount came back the same as the original count. If we come out and challenge the legitimacy of the primary, then this is a very serious charge. We need evidence. How do we get evidence? A man or woman walks into a booth and does something very personal and very private. Later on, maybe someone says that the numbers don’t add up, but how do you prove it? We couldn’t challenge the closed primary in New York. We agreed to play by the rules of the Democratic Party. There was a hearing in Arizona and the court ruled that the results were valid. An appeal would have taken months and more importantly would have alienated us further from the Democratic Party, who basically holds all the cards in this scenario. Had we made any such claims, we would have been laughed right out of the campaign. It’s easy to say that we should have rocked the boat, but we were sitting in the boat. Once we realized that we were not going to be treated as fairly as we had hoped, we realized that our best course of action was to try to get the Democratic Party to agree to as many platforms that would help the American people as we could and that’s exactly what we did.
Indie: What about the Brooklyn voter purge? It seems that all of the voters who were purged were planning to vote for you.
Bernie: You knew ahead of time who the people were planning to vote for. Secretary Clinton’s team had access to the same information you did.
Indie: Okay let’s talk about that. You concede that you were treated unfairly by the Democratic Party. You’ve been in politics a long time. You have always been an outsider. You’ve chosen to be an Independent in the Senate and ran for Governor in Vermont as a Democratic Socialist. You had to know that the Democratic Party was going to do everything in its power to stop you.
Bernie: We figured that they would make it difficult, yes.
Indie: You said over and over again that you were not just an issues candidate and that you believed that you were actually going to win. Knowing how corrupt the Democratic party has become, did you really expect that you were going to win?
Bernie: First off, let’s define “winning”. Did we gain the nomination? No. But we mobilized people. We exposed corruption in the party and now we have thousands of people running for Democratic office who are working to take the party back from the establishment. We are moving towards a living wage and Medicare for all. There is an initiative on the ballot in California which we are strongly supporting. This initiative would make everyone in America automatically registered to vote when they turn 18. We are now, for the first time in a long time, moving in the right direction for the working people in our country. I believe strongly that Secretary Clinton, with the right people in Congress, will make the right decisions to move these initiatives forward.
Indie: Okay. Let’s talk about that. A lot of people, like myself, who voted for you, can’t stomach the idea of voting for Hillary Clinton. She is literally the embodiment of everything we have fought against with your campaign. I have to say, I feel angry and betrayed by you asking me to vote for her. In fact, I refuse.
Bernie: I don’t want to mince words here. Secretary Clinton has her issues and there are many things that we disagree on, but she is not the direct opposite of what we have been fighting for. Donald Trump is. There are several things that the secretary and I agree on, whereas I disagree with Mr. Trump on practically every issue. Secretary Clinton supports a woman’s right to choose, whereas Mr. Trump says that women should be punished for having abortions, as if that choice isn’t hard enough. Secretary Clinton may have been late to the party on the rights of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, but at least she is now at the party. Donald Trump is a bigot and if he is allowed to nominate Supreme Court judges, we will lose everything that we have fought for over the past thirty years. I reject the idea that Secretary Clinton is my opposite.
Indie: Okay, I agree with that, but what about TPP? We know she secretly supports this awful trade agreement. Trump opposes TPP. Can’t I make the argument that it is better to have Trump than TPP?
Bernie: Do you know WHY the Republicans oppose TPP? Many oppose it because it is not powerful ENOUGH! They want to give corporations even more power than this disastrous trade agreement already gives them. Also you have may have noticed that our good friend, Mr. Trump, changes his position almost daily on nearly every issue. So, no, I don’t believe we can trust Trump on TPP or anything else for that matter.
Indie: So what? Hillary becomes President and TPP is passed?
Bernie: If Secretary Clinton tries to pass TPP, you are going to fight her. I am going to fight her. 13 million people who voted for our campaign are going to fight her. And I am hoping, that whoever Americans decide to vote for in November for the House and Senate, will also oppose TPP. We have a real opportunity to defeat this bill if we all work together.
Indie: I’m still not voting for Hillary.
Bernie: That’s your choice. I would never tell you who to vote.
Indie: What are your thoughts on the Green Party movement?
Bernie: It’s a good movement. They have a strong platform. I can’t claim to be an expert on it. I think America needs a non-corporate party. The challenge they will run into, is that it takes billions of dollars to run a party and raising those kind of funds without corporate donors will be very difficult. I believe it can be done. We showed that you can run a very strong campaign without corporate donors and I wish the Green Party the best of luck. I’ve believed for a very long time that America needs to break out of the corporate two-party system.
Indie: So why didn’t you accept Jill Stein’s offer to head the Green Party? You had the popular vote. Bernie, it just kills me that you didn’t accept her offer. Please explain your thinking here.
Bernie: This is a very complex issue. It’s something that we explored and by ‘we’, I mean my wife, Jane, my friend and campaign manager, Jeff Weaver and some other key members of our staff and in the end we came to the conclusion that it would have had catastrophic results, not just for the American people, but ultimately for the Green Party as well.
Indie: Explain further please.
Bernie: Well, it’s wonderful to see that so many activists in the Green Party, many whom I suspect are the same activists who helped our campaign, have gone out and put in the legwork required to get the Green Party on the ballot in, what I believe is now 47 states. At the time the invitation was extended, I believe they were only on the ballot in 20 states. This shows me that people are serious about expanding a new party in this country and I strongly support that, but the Green Party, even bringing over our 13 million voters is simply not in position to make a serious run at taking over the government at this time.
Indie: Due to lack of funding?
Bernie: Due to many things. We already discussed that the Democratic Party doesn’t play fair. If I were on the Green Party ticket, do you think that they would be on the ballot in 40 states currently? Or do you think that the DNC lawyers would have started fighting our ballot access? And then we would have to go to court in multiple states at once and they would have stalled, which would have cost us millions. The Democrats have very deep pockets and they have been playing this game for a very long time. It is my belief that my joining the Green Party ticket would have done more harm than good, but I understand that our voters were not privy to these discussions that took place behind closed doors and due to the nature of my relationship with the Democratic Party, I was not able to come out and say too much about this, but I support what they are doing in the Green Party and I know that Our Revolution looks forward to supporting Green Party candidates for the House and Senate going forward.
Indie: Are those the only reasons?
Bernie: Those are the main reasons. Even being on the ballot in 47 states means that you automatically lose in 3 states and that is extremely tough to overcome. Had the Democrats blocked our ballot access, then we would have had zero chance and I would have not only hurt the party, but I would have split the vote, which would have allowed Republicans to have total and complete control of our government, starting with Trump in the White House, complete control of the Supreme Court, possibly keeping control of the House and Senate. And then, let’s imagine that we were able to overcome all of that. Let’s imagine that we were able to get tens of millions of dollars in donations just to fight the Democrats in court and then somehow we get on the ballot in all 50 states and we win the Presidency, do you think the Democrats would have been happy about this? Do you think that the Democrats would have been willing to work with us on passing legislation?
Indie: No. They would have blocked everything you tried to pass.
Bernie: Every single piece of legislation that we tried to pass would have been obstructed. Would I be able to look to my cohorts in the Green Party to pass bills through the House and Senate? There aren’t very many Green Party members running for these seats. The party isn’t ready to take over the government at this time. Our best hope of political revolution is to use the resources of the Democratic Party to push a Progressive agenda. Had I accepted the incredibly gracious offer from Dr. Jill Stein, we would have lost all the progress that we made in getting the Democrats to agree to our platform.
Indie: Regarding the platform. What is to stop Clinton from just sweeping it under the rug? We have seen her lie and flip-flop on positions repeatedly. How can you trust her?
Bernie: If the Democratic Party were going to do that, why did they fight us so hard on it? They refused our $15 per hour minimum wage and opted instead for a $12 per hour minimum. They refused to oppose TPP. They refused to oppose fracking, something that we pushed very hard for. And there were several other issues we disagreed on. The Democratic platform is the basis on which all future decisions of the party will be made. We fought very hard and got them to concede many things to us, but sure, if we just sit around and ignore the promises that were made, then what will happen is that corporate lobbyists will come in and influence Congress to pass bills that work against the best interest of the people. The platform is just the foundation, but it is a strong foundation. Now we have to elect people into Congress that will support our positions.
Indie: In 2008 Barack Obama had a fairly Progressive platform. It was pretty much ignored for eight years.
Bernie: Barack Obama is a friend of mine, but in my view, he made a YUGE mistake by not holding his constituents accountable. Not me, us. Not me, us. I keep saying it. One person, alone, in this government, can do very little, but when millions of people stand together there is literally nothing we cannot accomplish. Barack Obama stirred up the people of America and then when he was elected, they went back to their lives. They didn’t run for office. They didn’t pressure their government. They didn’t vote in midterm elections. As a result, Republicans controlled the House and Senate and obstructed his Presidency. That is one of the key differences between Barack Obama and myself. Our movement is one of tremendous activism. Not me, us. That’s what political revolution is all about.
Indie: Let’s talk briefly about Our Revolution. There was some dissension in the ranks over the appointment of Jeff Weaver as head of the group.
Bernie: That’s not uncommon. In politics it is very rare to have everyone agree on every issue. For whatever reason, the media decided to take that story and blow it way out of proportion.
Indie: But setting it up as a 501c4, allowing big donors to support the movement, doesn’t this go against everything that your campaign stood in opposition to?
Bernie: That depends on who the donors are and what they expect in return. During our presidential campaign, we had Nurses for Bernie, as well as several large labor organizations, that donated large sums of money to our campaign. We also had many other organizations attempt to donate large sums of money to our campaign and we refused their donations. What’s the difference? The difference is that we did not have to compromise even a little bit to accept the donations from the labor unions. We were already fighting for labor unions. We were already fighting for equal pay for women. We were already fighting for paid leave and a $15 per hour minimum wage. These groups wanted to help with that. We didn’t have to compromise our movement. I’ve known Jeff Weaver for a long time. He is a very close friend of mine. One of the reasons why I put him in charge is I know that if some corporation or large individual donor comes up and offers him money, he will let them know that there are no strings attached and if they do not accept this, he will do exactly what he did during our campaign. He will refuse to accept the money. Jeff is a man of great integrity.
Indie: But the 501c4 filing status made it to where you could not coordinate with Tim Canova. Many feel that this cost him the win in Florida.
Bernie: Tim Canova is a good man. He is exactly the kind of Progressive we need to take on the big money interests in Washington, but the fact of the matter is that the incumbent always has a tremendous advantage, due to name recognition and having the financial support of the establishment. While it is true that the filing status prevented us from coordinating with Tim’s campaign, I do not believe that flying to Florida and giving a few speeches would have been enough to change the outcome of that primary election.
Indie: I noticed on the Our Revolution website that Act Blue was taking donations. They also take donations for Hillary Clinton. Will any of the money donated to Our Revolution go to Hillary?
Bernie: Absolutely not. Every dime donated will go to support Progressive causes and Progressive candidates.
Indie: So you agree that Hillary Clinton is not a Progressive then?
Bernie: No comment.
Indie: I feel kind of embarrassed asking you this, but…
Bernie: I’m just a picture sitting on your desk. You’ve been sitting here talking to a picture for hours. How much worse could it get?
Indie: That’s a good point. I was…
Bernie: I just want to make sure that you are taking care of yourself. Are you off your meds again?
Indie: I’ve been off my meds for years now, Bernie. I meditate and do yoga daily. I also do Crossfit and eat a strict vegetarian diet. Political activism and being creative are also part of my program. I find with all these things, I no longer need to take my meds.
Bernie: Well, the fact remains that you are talking to a picture.
Indie: Can we get back to the interview please.
Bernie: It’s your interview,
Indie: Okay, speaking of my sanity, I’m kind of embarrassed to ask you this, but my readers want to know. Did the DNC ever threaten you?
Bernie: Not directly, no.
Indie: They threatened you indirectly?
Bernie: Politics is a dirty game. I have been in the House and Senate for a long time. I’m the head of several subcommittees and I have a lot of relationships that I have developed over the years. As a result of these relationships, we are sometimes able to come to agreements on legislation and occasionally we can work together to get bills passed that help the American people. The Democratic establishment was growing tired of our campaign. They saw us as outsiders and their patience was wearing thin with our reluctance to concede and endorse Secretary Clinton. It was pretty clear that if I did not make the endorsement, then they were going to be unwilling to work with us going forward. On the other hand, we had some leverage within the party. We had 13 million voters and I wasn’t going to abandon them, so we had a series of meetings in which we got the party, as well as Secretary Clinton, to agree to push forward our initiatives in exchange for an endorsement.
Indie: But they also wanted a concession.
Bernie: Yes, but we were not prepared to do this.
Indie: Why endorse, but not concede?
Bernie: What if something were to happen to Secretary Clinton, God forbid? She has various issues with her emails and such. We wanted to be in position to take over the nomination, should she not be able to fulfill it for whatever reason.
Indie: At the convention, you asked if Vermont could go last during the roll call. After 49 states had voted and it became clear that the superdelegates had pledged to Hillary, you grabbed the microphone and suspended the rules. Why didn’t you just concede?
Bernie: We didn’t want to surrender our delegates. I wish Secretary Clinton all the best, but if she were unable to fulfill her duties, we wanted to be sure that we were next in line to take over.
Indie: Okay, I’m embarrassed to ask this, but there was a rumor circulating that you or your family were threatened physically and that is why you endorsed Hillary.
Bernie: That’s preposterous.
Indie: At the convention, you had a mark on your face. I believe this was the genesis of the rumor. Care to comment on the mark?
Bernie: Let me ask you something. I assume you did some research on me before this interview?
Indie: I’m a huge fan. I’ve read your books. I know more about you than I know about all my friends put together.
Bernie: In any of that reading and researching, did I strike you as the kind of guy who could be bullied or the kind of guy who would succumb to threats?
Indie: No. I never believed any of that stuff. I am just asking for my readers.
Bernie: Sometimes we let our imaginations get away from us.
Indie: One last question.
Indie: Can I get a hug?
Bernie: Get over here.