6 Candidates For 2020 Whose Records Will Make You Go 'Huh'?
About half the country is running to become the Democratic presidential nominee for 2020 right now, and a few of them have a shot of making it. While it might feel like some of them materialized out of nowhere, they all have long political careers behind them. And some of their records are not what you'd expect from someone on the Dem side. Yes, that includes ...
As Mayor, Bernie Sanders Threw Antiwar Protesters In Jail
Fun fact: During the 2016 election, Bernie Sanders received more donations from defense contractor employees than Ted Cruz. Did they spell "Jeb Bush" wrong or something? Nope, as weird as it sounds, they've been feeling the Bern for a long time. It largely has to do with Sanders' record in Vermont, a state that has deep ties to the defense industry. He has consistently acted in their favor, like when he supported the funding for the $1.2 trillion stealth fighter that, per the Air Force, can't fight. (It seems the hope is to make enemy pilots die from laughing at it too much in low-oxygen environments.)
But the most noted display of Sanders' support for the defense industry came before his time in the Senate, when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont. In 1983, activists protested a munitions factory in Burlington because it was manufacturing guns going to Central America for use in Ronald Reagan's commie-smashing efforts. Many in the area weren't that cool with covert death squads, and some tried to block the entrance to the factory. Mayor Sanders had them all arrested.
His excuse? The protesters blocked employees from their work, so cracking down on them was actually in line with his principles. Plus, we guess jail does technically count as free government-sponsored housing, even if it's only for a few days.
Elizabeth Warren Was A "Diehard Conservative" Who Defended Utility Companies From The Clintons
Quick, imagine Elizabeth Warren in the '70s. Did you picture her in a multicolored poncho, yelling about progressive causes while chained to a nuclear plant? If so, you're way off. School friends described her as "a diehard conservative," and by the '80s, she was a free-market-saves-all Reaganite who dressed like an Old West schoolmarm.
While in law school in the '70s, Warren was deeply influenced by the "Law and Economics" movement, a corporate-funded initiative with the explicit goal of cultivating more conservative judges. When she started her law career at UT Austin, some guy named Bill "Slick Willy" Clinton became the target of her ire. You see, Clinton made a run to return to the Arkansas governor's mansion in 1982, and one of his central campaign promises was to prevent utility companies from preying on the poor and the elderly. Warren sided squarely with the companies, asserting that the state should institute automatic utility rates even if prices went up, and that consumer advocacy groups could eat it (after they'd paid for it, naturally).
What ultimately caused Warren to start on the long road to progressive champion was when she began looking through bankruptcy cases to prove that people filing for it were "all a bunch of cheaters." She found the opposite, that it was mostly people who'd fallen on hard times and couldn't get back up, because the system isn't designed to help them. So she set out to change that system. And along the way, she clashed with some other guy named ...
Joe Biden Helped Pass A Bill That Made It Harder To Get Out Of Debt
While other candidates campaign on debt relief programs and rail against the system, Joe Biden's trying to hide the fact that he helped erect that system in the first place. In 2005, the Senate passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act -- which, as usual with these things, did the exact opposite of what the name says.
The whole idea of the bill was to make it harder for people to get out of debt by filing for bankruptcy, because there just isn't enough debt around. On top of limiting the types of debt that can be discharged (no private student loans, for instance), it made the whole process more expensive and byzantine to discourage people from even trying to get back on their feet this way. Oh well, it's not like there was a huge financial crisis looming or anything!
Anyway, as senator, Biden was instrumental in passing the bill, and later conceded that it probably wasn't a great idea. He claims he voted for it because it was gonna pass anyway, so eh, might as well try to make it slightly less terrible from the inside. We're sure that the large number of credit card companies based in his home state of Delaware didn't even factor into it.
Kamala Harris Has A Terrible Record On Policing And Incarceration
Earlier this year, Kamala Harris goofed when she said she smoked weed while listening to Tupac and Snoop Dogg in college, when neither artist released albums until after she graduated. She either owns a time machine or is a very confused Hall & Oates listener. As for her other claim, there's nothing wrong with smoking weed. There is everything wrong with smoking weed and going on to brutally imprison a generation of people for doing the same thing.
As California prosecutor and attorney general, Harris was tough on crime, because you gotta maintain law and order ... and also those sweet, sweet for-profit prisons. She actively fought to keep more prisoners locked up, despite the Supreme Court ruling that overcrowded California prisons veered into cruel and unusual punishment. Her office even made the horrifying argument that releasing them would decrease the supply of cheap labor.
And this wasn't Harris' only support for truly abysmal policies while in office. She wanted to make truancy a criminal offense, and sought to uphold wrongful convictions. She consistently tried to keep innocent people imprisoned on technicalities, like not presenting legal arguments in a timely manner. Yeah, it's extremely important to always get your dates right, Ms. "Snoop Dogg And Tupac Owned In The Early '80s."
Peter Buttigieg Displaced Poor Minorities From Their Homes
It's somewhat difficult to criticize Mayor Pete on policy grounds, because he essentially has none, but we can look at what he's done while in charge of South Bend, Indiana. As mayor, he sought to fix the city's rampant homelessness and dereliction with a "1,000 homes in 1,000 days" project. It was fairly simple: Tear down vacant houses, and relentlessly fine any blighted ones that still had residents until they moved out or foreclosed. Wanna guess who lived in these homes?
Yes, the homes were owned almost exclusively by impoverished, mostly black people. Turns out fining poor people and destroying their homes isn't a great way to solve homelessness and blight. They couldn't pay the fines or make the repairs because, you know, poverty.
Some residents didn't even know they were on a "demolition list" until the bulldozers showed up. One woman eventually got extensions and permits, but kept getting put back on the "demo list" because she didn't jump through the right bureaucratic hoops. And while Mayor Pete touts the initiative as a major policy win, he's conspicuously left out any mention of demographics in any discussion and all documentation of it. On second thought, "no policies" sounds like an improvement.
Beto O'Rourke Helped The GOP Destroy Consumer Protections During The Recession
Sometimes it feels like Beto O'Rourke is running for president because he lost a college bet. His campaign polls pretty terribly, and the only reason he's a nationally known politician is that he lost an election to Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz! The only edge he has on the rest of the field is that he's the one candidate who could probably do a kick-flip (though we're not willing to write Bernie off just yet).
O'Rourke likes to position himself as a solid liberal with good credentials, but his record says otherwise. Despite his solidly democratic House district, O'Rourke has voted an unusual amount with the GOP. In 2010, he even co-sponsored a Republican bill to gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and destroy protections put in place by the Obama administration to stop predatory lending. His reasoning was that the organization wasn't transparent enough, and his solution was a short-term compromise for a long-term goal. Because if there's one thing the late '00s taught us, it's that we can totally trust the loan industry in the long run.
Also, despite all his talk about climate change, he's voted regularly to boost the fossil fuel industry. He was even one of the few Democrats to vote in favor of lifting an oil export ban. In fact, he voted twice for it. When your most convincing leftist credentials are "used to be in a punk band" and "drops the F-word a lot," you should probably be running a podcast, not the country.
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