Bernie Sanders nails the big problem with his main rival in the Democratic election

Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg
Tracy Keeling

In the first vote of the Democratic primaries in Iowa, Pete Buttigieg emerged as the main challenger to Bernie Sanders.

The media has fawned over Buttigieg since before he officially announced his bid for the presidency in April 2019. That’s not surprising given his centrist positioning. But Sanders has pointed out an important fact about the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, that voters should be wise to.

Money, money, money

Since the vote in Iowa, Sanders has turned people’s attention to the source of Buttigieg’s funding. On 9 February, the Vermont senator appeared on Fox News. The anchor Chris Wallace posed the following question to Sanders:

Senator, I just asked mayor Buttigieg about your charges about him that he’s accepting money from billionaires. He says the point is you’ve got to build a coalition and accept money from all sources if you’re going to beat Donald Trump.

So the question is are you more interested in purity than you are in winning?

Sanders responded:

No, I am more interested in transforming this country and lowering the outrageous cost of prescription drugs, in making sure that every American has healthcare as a human right not a privilege, in making sure that our kids can afford to go to college and not leave school deeply in debt.

And here’s the problem, everybody knows this… It is the billionaires and the big money interests that control what goes on politically, what goes on legislatively, in this country. And if you do, as mayor Buttigieg does, take huge amounts of contributions from the CEOs of the pharmaceutical industry, from financiers in fossil fuel industry, from the insurance companies, from Wall Street, does anyone seriously believe that you’re going to stand up to those powerful entities and represent working people?

Sanders is right – it is common knowledge to most that those who throw money at politicians expect to get something in return – and often do. As Time magazine reported in 2019, Donald Trump has employed officials “tied” to the Koch brothers, who have used “millions of dollars to pervasively, perniciously and secretly influence” political decision-making in the White House and government agencies. There, those officials have:

systematically worked to discredit renewable energy, promote fossil fuels and deny climate science.

Prior to Trump’s presidency, Barack Obama also “rewarded” his top donors with government roles.

So Buttigieg’s choice to accept money from 40 billionaires, second only to Joe Biden’s support from 44, should be a cause for concern for anyone who wants an unbeholden president.

Insider or outsider?

In his bid to become president, Buttigieg has billed himself as “unorthodox” and an outsider of sorts. His funding from dozens of billionaires jars with this. The Grayzone has also recently reported on the mayor’s past positions within the US military, which suggests he was very much an insider when it comes to the US military / industrial complex.

The outlet has highlighted that a number of intelligence veterans are “throwing their weight” behind Buttigieg. In further reporting, it’s also discussed military documents which it says appear to show:

the former mayor worked alongside the CIA while serving as a high-ranking Naval intelligence officer during his short stint in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, the Grayzone reports that the unit Buttigieg served with – the Afghanistan Threat Finance Cell (ATFC) – “operated under the watch” of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA, it notes, was “responsible for the disastrous war on drugs“.

The Grayzone says the collaboration between ATFC and the CIA is an “open secret”. It points to an Agence France-Presse article that describes the outfit:

The ATFC is a multi-agency organisation currently comprising about 30 specialists on loan from the Department of Drug Enforcement, Department of the Treasury, Department of Justice, Department of Defense’s CENTCOM, the CIA and the FBI.

Alongside his six months in Afghanistan, Buttigieg spent a number of years in the Navy Reserves as an intelligence officer. His press secretary has said he was not in the CIA. Giving an insight into his own views on his time serving abroad, Buttigieg tweeted in 2017:

The anti-establishment candidate

Buttigieg’s support from the US billionaire class and his ties to the intelligence community suggest that, far from an unorthodox, non-establishment candidate, he’s very much drawn from the status quo.

Sanders is most certainly not. As the candidate who shuns billionaire backing and is critical of the oppressive overreach of the national security state, he’s promising to take on the establishment. As he explained during a recent event:

We are taking on the entire political establishment, both the Republican establishment and the Democratic establishment. We are taking on Wall Street, and the insurance companies, and the drug companies. And the fossil fuel industry, and the military-industrial complex, and the prison-industrial complex. And the whole damn 1%.

So voters looking for an anti-establishment candidate who’s willing to challenge the status quo need look no further than Sanders.

Featured image via YouTube – Fox News / YouTube – ABC News

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. Bernie is doing to Butthead what Corbyn should have done to Bogus Johnson.

      By taking his positions full on and explaining why they matter will, hopefully, take the wind off t5he sails of the wealthy media supported billionaires. The world needs Bernie. Not just the USA.

      We cannot afford to allow these asset stripping oligarchs to steal any more of the worker’s fair reward. A roof over their head, food on the table, good access to affordable healthcare and good quality education for all without going into debt.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.