A word about Bernie

Just to set the record straight, a word or two about Bernie Sanders:

He was a weekly guest on the Thom Hartmann show on radio for years, and I listened to him every time I got a chance. I believed then that he was the real deal, a genuine progressive. I ascribed his ascent to Senate as a peculiarity of his home state, Vermont, thinking it could only happen there.

Later I learned he was Jewish and never criticized Israel. But then, no one elected to high office in our country ever voices criticism of Israel, as the punishment is immediate and severe. So that is forgivable.

Later I would learn that Jews tend to be Democrats, and for good reason – during the early postwar period, they were not allowed in the country clubs and skyscraper dining rooms of the Northeast, nor the Republican Party. They were not welcomed as screen writers, authors or any other position of prominence either, and only slowly gained a foothold. (William Gaines and Harvey Kurtzman, who founded Mad Magazine, were Jews who could not make their way into the ad agencies, magazines or TV networks. So they made their own magazine, one that I loved as a kid.)

So don’t ever say that I have any disrespect for Sanders as a Jew. His cultural tradition is rich and glorious, full of humor and suffering. The Jewish culture is a great addition to the American scene. I will never forget that it was young Jews from the Northeast who headed south in the fifties and sixties to help out the fledgling civil rights movement. They were the first whites to take a stand. Silly me – plenty of whites have been involved in civil rights – it was fundamentalist Christians who spurred on abolition in the last century.

When Bernie set out to run for president, I scoffed. When he began to gain traction, I looked for a reason, as the establishment, while having no problem with Jews, hates progressives.

He might knowingly be diddling progressives as a stalking horse. But I find it so difficult to believe that the man who mouthed all those platitudes and was so well versed on the Hartmann show all those years is a phony.

He could be, however. Leadership of the opposition is critical in American politics, with some of our most prominent liberals and progressives actually masked Republicans. Think … Jerry Brown, Jon Tester, John Hickenlooper, Steve Bullock, John Kerry, Barack Obama…

Bernie Sanders? I do not know. I don’t know the man’s heart. I refuse, however, to go all in.

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