Nothing you raise is “unfair” and Sanders supporters need to stop crying “rigged!” “shill!” or whatever any time people question, scrutinize, or criticize our guy.
With that out of the way, here’s the point-by-point:
- He gets needlessly testy with the press, there’s no disputing that. But is that in and of itself a sign that he’s a would-be dictator? He kind of gets testy with every body (see this exchange for example). He does answer substantive questions, unlike Trump. He also does tons and tons of town halls in Vermont and spends a lot of time doing Q&A with constituents, not something you see many dictators do. A voter from Vermont (not a Bernie bro, mind you) once told me that it was likely Sanders had personally been in face-to-face meetings with close to one half of the voters in the state. His problem with the media is that he has very little patience for when they ask questions that are not “the real issues” (which he defines as cost of living, jobs, wages, health care, you know the schpiel). For example, he got his first “are you going to run for president in 2020” question from a media person just days after Clinton lost to Trump and he got mad about that. I also think it’s worth noting that he goes on Fox News and regularly takes hostile questions from the right-wing press which I guess plays well with his combative style but again, you don’t usually see dictators doing that.
- He did a stupid thing by promising the release of all his medical records which I only discovered recently practically no one does. Instead, candidates put out doctor notes summarizing their health issues. The only partial exception to this was John McCain who put out all his medical records but only gave reporters access to them for like 3 hours or something ridiculous.
- I was surprised to see civil liberties listed here as a concern given that he’s got an 86% rating from the ACLU. He voted against the Patriot Act and voted against the extensions. He also made a stink about spying on people’s library records which is something the Patriot Act enabled.
- Sanders’ history of admiring ‘left’ dictatorships pretty much ended in the 1980s and he gets a lot of flack from the far left as a result. He called Maduro a “vicious tyrant” and criticized Morales for running for an unconstitutional third term. He also opposed normalizing trade relations with communist China in the 1990s over their human rights record. As for Yaroslav, it’s still a sister city of Burlington even today, along with Puerto Cabezas in Nicaragua. The idea behind these initiatives was to create people-to-people contacts which were supposed to de-escalate tensions and jingoism under Reagan who the left genuinely believed at that time might start WW3 with Russia and who was criticized for backing death squads throughout Central America.