John Boehner vs. Bernie Sanders: Who’s the Real Extremist?

With Bernie Sanders surging in the polls and drawing record crowds at every campaign event, the Washington establishment is starting to get worried. And when the Washington establishment gets worried, it insults people by calling “radical,” “extremist,” or “out of touch.”

Just check out what John Boehner said about Bernie during an appearance yesterday on Face the Nation.

“Out of the mainstream” is the kind of smear that Washington insiders throw around all the time, but it means nothing coming from John Boehner.

That’s because as Bernie pointed out later on in the show, it’s Republicans like Boehner who are actually “out of touch.”

That’s a really important point, and it’s what the corporate media doesn’t understand about Bernie or his campaign. He’s not a fringe candidate, he’s not protest candidate, and despite what you might hear on Fox So-Called News, CNN, or even MSNBC when it’s at its most pro-Hillary, he’s about as mainstream as it gets.

A recent poll by the Progressive Change Institute, for example, shows that Americans overwhelmingly agree with Bernie on key issues like education, healthcare, and the economy.

Like Bernie, 75 percent of Americans poll support fair trade that “protects workers, the environment, and jobs.”

- 71 percent support giving all students access to a debt-free college education.

- 71 percent support a massive infrastructure spending program aimed at rebuilding our broken roads and bridges and putting people back to work.

- 70 percent support expanding Social Security.

- 59 percent support raising taxes on the wealthy so that millionaires pay the same amount in taxes as they did during the Reagan administration.

- 58 percent support breaking up the big banks.

- 55 percent support a financial transaction or Robin Hood tax.

- 51 percent support single payer healthcare, and so and so on.

Get the idea? Bernie Sanders is the mainstream candidate.

And here’s the thing, fifty years ago, his views on Social Security, union rights, and unemployment insurance would have put him smack dab in the mainstream of the Republican Party. Yes, that’s right -- the Republican Party.

The 1956 Republican Party platform is an amazing document. If you read it without knowing where it came from, you’d probably think it was an email from Elizabeth Warren to her supporters.

It says that the Republican Party wants to, among other things,

“[E]xtend protection of the Federal minimum wage laws to as many workers as is possible and practicable…. strengthen and improve the Federal-State Employment Service and improve the effectiveness of the unemployment insurance system…. extend and perfect a sound social security system…. protect the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively…. [and] provide assistance to improve the economic conditions of areas faced with persistent and substantial unemployment..."

Amazing right?

Republicans supporting union rights. Republicans supporting the expansion of Social Security. Republicans supporting unemployment insurance. What happened to that Republican Party?

Easy -- Reagan happened.

With the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, the billionaire class took control of the Republican Party after decades of trying. Like all successful revolutionaries, the Reaganites wiped out the moderates, and made their extreme ideology the new baseline of American politics.

The result has been a dramatic rightward shift in our political discourse. Ideas that were mainstream Republican positions back in 1956 are now considered “socialist” or “radical.”

The irony, of course, is that the American people are still overwhelmingly progressive, and have more in common with the 1956 Republican Party (and therefore Bernie Sanders) than they do with today’s Republican Party. If the corporate media spent a little more time listening to everyday Americans and a little less time recycling right-wing talking points, they’d understand that.

They’d also start treating Bernie Sanders like what he really is: the candidate who best represents what the American people want out of their democracy.


OldGent's picture
OldGent 7 years 36 weeks ago

As Bernie said, people overwhelmingly support the very words he uses. On other places that I use to blog, I can't tell you the amount of people that are claiming to be Republican,Libertarian, willing to change affilliations just to make sure Bernie gets elected, not just in the primary but as out POTUS. I sense this is no ploy to disrupt since their comments go beyond the focus and are given with a chip on their shoulders. They call him the only candidate worth voting for in any party. I am no fool in that a percentage might be thinking disruption, but the percentages which are responding say this is not anywhere near the majority who are real in their words. My opinion. Besides, this is the same old rhetoric used by Boehner and all Conservatives to paint their own idea of his candidacy and it is so clear that I can't believe they still think the American people so dumb.

liz banker 7 years 36 weeks ago

This may be Senator Sander downfall... he says he won't take PAC money and suggests, instead, that small donors (averaging $40) will be the sustainable and possibly enough money to win the Democratic nomination. Has Senator Sanders done the math? Great ideas and progressive positions do NOT "pay the rent" whereas money will help deliver the Senator's message and ideas.

Read the article from Politico - rarely do I agree with their online publication, but they were spot on and Senator Sanders needs to heed their warning and realities of winning the presidency if he, Senator Sanders, is TRULY SERIOUS about winning and becoming President of the United States. - after reading the article, do the math yourself!

If every person that has attended his political rallies up to this point in time, contributed $40 a person, that only comes out to about 12 million. Senator Sanders says he also wants to reach out working class poor as well as the struggling Middle Class, for their financial contributions. Now, if I were a "struggling" Middle Class or working class poor, would I be able to have enough discretionary money to contribute $40 to Senator Sander's political campaign, especially if I was barely earning minimum wage and struggling to put food on the table for my family? And even if I scrapped the bottom of my piggy bank and gave it all to the Sanders' campaign, Senator Sanders would still only have about $84 million dollars raised so far, unlike Hillary Clinton (DINO) and the top Republican candidates have raised.

Tell Senator Sanders, RICH individuals with progressive ideas ALSO HAVE A VOICE. They are fewer in numbers, but they do exist, and they should not be lumped in with the Koch Brothers. That difference needs to be pointed out: Tell Senator Sanders, there is also good money chasing after good ideas and policies.

Instead of decrying the "arms race" of political fund-raising,, Hillary continues to have that smirk on her face: somewhat critizing Citizens United on the one hand while on the other hand, taking donations wherever and from whomever ($45 million since her announcement to run for POTUS), and will then probably proclaim, after she gets into office, she would not be able to do much about Citizens' United.

Vegasman56 7 years 36 weeks ago

We Are going to start the trip down that road. This is what the delusionary Republicans wants us to follow. To return to the great depression.

In 1920 this country elected Warren Gamaliel Harding which became he 29thpresident of the United States, a Republican from Ohio, he promised the nation "a return to normalcy", in the form of a strong economy, independent of foreign influence. This program was designed to rid Americans of the tragic memories and hardships faced during World War I, Harding and the Republican Party had desired to move away from progressivism that dominated the early 20th century. He defeated Democrat and fellow Ohioan James M. Cox in the largest presidential popular vote landslide, a (60.32% to 34.15%) since popular vote totals were first recorded. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Warren Harding followed a predominantly pro-business, conservative Republican agenda. Taxes were reduced, particularly for corporations and wealthy individuals,

(Does this sound familiar)

high protective tariffs were enacted; and immigration was limited. Harding signed the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, which streamlined the federal budget system and established the General Accounting Office to audit government expenditures. His campaign promise was "Less government in business and more business in government."

You can

We have to make a conscious effort the next Coming Election, to Vote out the Republicans and Conservatives, as much as we can. Or we will return to King George III Monarchy administration, where the aristocrat’s, the Lords and ladies, will rule over you because, all you are to them are peasants to serve all of their needs! We must get active and spread the word around, alert your friends, neighbors and your relatives to register to vote, to find out what the candidates platform is, if it meets the standards of the Americas working family’s needs to live in comfort and not to just survive. We do not need another Dynasty, we do not need any more millionaires as presidents, or do not want an aristocrat as president either,

Duncan MacLaren's picture
Duncan MacLaren 7 years 36 weeks ago

In the interview, our esteemed Speaker of the House could not even get the name of the party right. John, it's "DEMOCRATIC"......not "DEMOCRAT" ! On a more-positive note, read the Nation Magazine's superb account of Bernie's tenure as mayor of Burlington, Vermont. This man's wisdom, fair-mindedness, and just plain intelligence should be an inspiration to all of us.

Instant-RunOff-... 7 years 36 weeks ago

Boinker is a liar, a disgusting corrupt stooge of the super-rich. He cares about one thing and one thing only, how much cash he gets stuffed into his oversized pockets. The man is a traitor and belongs in a prison cell. I can't see how anyone could be stupid enough to vote for that cretin.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 36 weeks ago

Senator Sanders does what he's elected to do....he represents and serves, "We the People." Boehner does what all self serving politicians do.....he represents and serves only the piggish Fascists, who own his sorry ass.

RFord's picture
RFord 7 years 36 weeks ago

I would vote for Bernie. The grass roots movement for Bernie is great but even if Bernie becomes POTUS, he will not be able to accomplish any of his agenda without the support of congress just like President Obama was stopped from accomplishing his goals once the house of representatives had a republican majority. The message needs to get out that Bernie needs voters to not only to vote for him but to vote for democratic congress candidates for him to be able to accomplish his goals. The message needs to get out to democrats that they need to vote in every state and local election too or republicans will win and the democrats you didn't vote for will lose because republicans vote in every election.. Then the republicans will rule with majorities and the democrat you voted for when you did vote can do nothing to help you. How do you get this message out? Bernie could get the message out at every speaking engagement and I hope he does. The democratic national committee could run ads before a national election to get the message out to democrats about the importance of voting in every election even if it's for just one office.

RLTOWNSLEY's picture
RLTOWNSLEY 7 years 36 weeks ago

Political pundits have noted Sander's appeal to a wide swath of voters but question his ultimate ability to win the top spot on the ballot in today's Democrat Party where Liberals continue to push the same 1960's agendas that resulted, in large part, in the party's long fall from grace starting in 1968 that resulted in the Southern Democrats abandoning the party in droves to join the Republicans and a Right Wing President in the White House for twenty of the next twenty four years. Meanwhile the Neoliberal leadership who have been in control of the party leadership for the last quarter century are only looking for someone who will obediently take orders and promote their pro-business agendas such as the T.P.P. with no questions asked ! Most agree that Sanders will be kept in play to rally the troops on the Left after Obama's questionable performance that has, among other things, forced many Black Democrats to distance themselves from the party. But Bernie will eventually be forced to relinquish his run and throw his support behind Neoliberal Hillary at the nominating convention, an outcome that is all too common in this country's political theater ! When both political parties fully support the same private business, banking and financial elite, elections become a meaningless exercise in futility that only serve to further demoralize the 40% of the population that still votes on election day !

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 36 weeks ago

to Vegasman56 -- Thanks for the links. I have only one significant problem with what you say. FDR was a millionaire.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 36 weeks ago

to RFord -- Obama only had his ability to accomplish things for 13 weeks. He did not lose it when the house became repuglican. He lost it when the Senate was no longer filibuster proof. This happened when Sen Brown replaced Sen Kennedy. Also, he did not get the power until Al Franken became senator. You may recall that Sen Franken election results were contested well into 2009.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 36 weeks ago

to RLTOWNSLEY -- Have you heard that Bernie was arrested for marching for CORE in 1968(?). Democrats supporting things like CORE is why the Southern Democrats left the party.

I think Thom is misleading when he uses the quote from Harry Truman (paraphrased) "Given the choice between a Republican and Republican-lite they will chose the real Republican". Alan Grayson clarified that statement for me. What it means is the base will not vote at all for the republican-lite. They do not chose the republican, instead they chose to not vote at all.

The Hypno Toad 7 years 28 weeks ago

I'm not much of a history buff, and '56 is well before my time, but I thought Republican -- pre civil rights -- was where the progressives dwelled. (Lincoln, a Rep, was an abolishionist, etc.) So it's not so much that the party took a hard right turn and pulled everyone with them -- as the article indicates -- but that party affiliation just flip-flopped.

Is the former not correct and hence the latter would be a more accurate statement? If so, then we need to look not at R's and D's, but at liberal and conservative viewpoints and how they've changed and/or been accepted/rejected in the mainstream.

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