Sanders Top Recipient Of Donations From Military
The Sanders’ campaign cites the senator’s promises to “end the endless wars” and his years of work on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee as reasons for his popularity with military employees.
A new analysis from Foreign Policy finds that Sen. Bernie Sanders is the favorite presidential candidate of the military, in what critics argue is the latest indication that the Vermont Independent’s base is more diverse than generally portrayed.
“When combining contribution amounts together, Sanders is the biggest beneficiary of national security support, followed by [Mayor Pete] Buttigieg and Warren. Democratic front-runner Biden and President Donald Trump trail behind those candidates, ranking no higher than third for any one department.”
Sanders received $181,000 from the military, more than twice as much as veteran Pete Buttigieg, who received the second most donations with $79,142. Sanders closely followed Buttigieg in donations from Department of Homeland Security employees, while the South Bend mayor led in Justice Department and State Department donations. All together, national security employees have donated $212,472 to Sanders 2020 campaign, giving him a significant lead on every other candidate, including Trump.
“I would never have guessed that. [Sanders] would have been way down my list of possible answers if this were a Final Jeopardy question,” Larry Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told Foreign Policy. “He’s mainly about economic equality and Medicare for All.”
Bernie Sanders History of Advocating For Veterans
A Sanders campaign aide told Foreign Policy that the senator’s promises to “end the endless wars” and his years of work on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee as reasons for his popularity with military employees. “It shouldn’t be a surprise that these things draw support from so many in the military, but Bernie is extremely proud to have it,” the aide said.
Sanders has pledged to invest at least $62 billion in boosting support for facilities run by Veterans Affairs if elected president. “We will not dismantle or privatize the VA. We will expand and improve the VA,” the 2020 candidate said in a statement.
Sanders also led the field among military donations in 2016, which some attribute to Sanders’ work with the late Sen. John McCain to pass a bipartisan veterans’ health bill in 2014. In 2016, McCain said that Sanders has “a record of advocacy for our veterans” while his presidential rival Hillary Clinton did not.
“I will say Bernie Sanders worked very hard when he was chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, he, he and I had many disagreements, but we were able to come together, finally, after very spirited discussions—I think my reward will be in heaven, not here on earth for that exercise,” said Sen. John McCain. “But the fact is we were able to come together and come and pass legislation that was nearly unanimous in both House and Senate. So he does have a record of advocacy for our veterans.”
Military donations for Trump were drastically lower than Sanders in 2016 as well. Phillip Carter, director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security, told Open Secrets that service members were rubbed the wrong way by Trump’s behavior, including “calling Sen. John McCain a ‘loser’ for being a prisoner of war and Trump’s claim that attending a military high school was equivalent to being ‘in the military in the true sense.'”
Corporate Media’s Anti-Sanders Bias
The corporate media has been accused of anti-Sanders bias, from the Washington Post’s inaccurate fact-check over his claims about medical debt to allegations of journalistic malpractice in the New York Times’ election coverage to media black-outs whenever the Vermont Senator polls well. Critics argue the mainstream media, which is owned by billionaires and massive corporations, has a vested interest in Sanders’ failure because of his social democratic policy proposals.
Common Dreams’ Kate Halper asserts that this corporate media bias distorts “Sanders’ politics and the diversity of his supporters.” Halper details how the media has tried to characterize Sanders’ base as mostly white “Bernie Bros,” while ignoring polls that show the Vermont Independent leading among support from non-White voters. His endorsements from the nation’s largest nurses’ union and second largest teachers’ union, in addition to his support from military donors and K-12 teachers, indicate that his base is broader than generally depicted.