By Michael Sainato
Last week an anonymous Democratic Party source and Clinton Campaign alum hid behind a veil of anonymity to criticize Bernie Sanders over his push for Medicare for All. NBC News reporter Frank Thorp reported, “Dem source: ‘This is exactly the debate Graham & Cassidy want to have. Sanders is looking out for himself rather than being a team player.’ Thorp added, “A Clinton alum piles on: ‘This is a gift for Lindsey Graham, who’s flailing to get to 50 on a bill that would ruin millions of lives.'” In their own report, CNN cited several Democratic Strategists pushing this narrative, yet were conveniently granted anonymity to do so. The Washington Post and several other outlets echoed these sentiments from anonymous sources as well as though their claims were reflective of the Democratic Party as a whole.
In addition to the 16 Senators who co-sponsored Sanders’ bill and the Democrat House PAC exploiting it to raise money for themselves, the co-founder of the Ready for Hillary Super Pac, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom openly pushed back on the claims against Medicare For All. “The idea that you can only fight for one thing at a time, for #MedicareForAll or against the #ACA repeal, is insulting,” he said this past weekend at the National Nurses Conference. Regardless of the veracity of the anonymously sourced opinion criticizing Bernie Sanders, this anonymous Bernie bashing has become a commonly exploited tactic for a few voices in the Democratic Party establishment to openly criticize Bernie Sanders and his supporters without having to publicly answer or engage in debate over their criticisms.
Politico reported on September 8 in an article criticizing Bernie Sanders and his supporters for push back against Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) courting wealthy Hillary Clinton donors in the Hamptons, “If Sanders intends to lead the party, said one Democratic operative who’s worked with him, requesting to speak anonymously like many others for fear of reprisal from Sanders backers, ‘you don’t get to wash your hands of all of this.'”
In July 2017, during the single payer healthcare debate in California incited by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon preventing SB562 from moving through the state legislature, the Hill reported from an anonymous source, “The ‘only ones pissed are Berniecrats who are no electoral threat,’ said one longtime Sacramento Democratic operative who backs Rendon.”
In February 2017, the Hill reported on a Democrat Senator complaining about Bernie Sanders calling out the Democrats who sabotaged his prescription drug amendment with big pharma talking points, “‘You cannot do that if you’re in the leadership,’ said one senator who did not approve of Sanders’s tactics and requested anonymity to speak frankly.”
During his 2016 Presidential Election, anonymous sources were often used to spark outrage and anger over Bernie Sanders refusing to fall in line and do what the Democratic Party establishment wanted him to do.
These anonymously sourced criticisms toward Bernie Sanders and his supporters fuel narratives meant to suppress his progressive movement and fuel outrage from centrists and Clinton supporters, signalling an opportunity to gain up against the progressive wing of the party. No matter whether the actual source is an outlier or speaking out of spite, their anonymity frames their voice as a spokesperson for a broad segment of the Democratic Party. In the most recent case, polls are showing that the majority of Americans support a single payer healthcare system, forcing Sanders’ critics to opt to anonymously attacking him on strategy and character rather than debating the policy of Medicare for All in itself.