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Bernie Sanders is no Donald Trump

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CNN's SE Cupp, Van Jones and John Avlon discuss President Trump's frequent misleading claims.

Posted: Apr 3, 2019 8:10 PM
Updated: Apr 3, 2019 8:10 PM

As is fashionable during election season, candidates will be compared to others, both current and past, living and dead. It's a fun game, and can have some real usefulness as we try to learn from the failures and successes of previous eras and administrations.

But other times, the desire to find quick commonality between two disparate figures can be too cute by half. And at worst, it's actually counterproductive and even offensive.

"Bernie Sanders has emerged as the Donald Trump of the left," reads the Washington Post headline above opinion writer Dana Milbank's column.

This piqued my interest, as many WaPo headlines and Milbank posts do.

But what followed wasn't just disappointing, it was ludicrous.

His first attempt at persuading you of this notion is in his first full paragraph: "Fundraising and polls show that many Democrats think the best answer to an angry old white guy with crazy hair, New York accent and flair for demagoguery is, well, another angry old white guy with crazy hair, New York accent and flair for demagoguery."

Don't spend too much time parsing this. I'm sure if Bernie supporters were asked, few would say his hair, accent and rhetorical panache were the reason they liked him. But let's give this comparison the benefit of the doubt for now, and assume it goes somewhere convincing.

"Sanders himself remains untouchable, in a Trumpian way," Milbank offers. One piece of evidence? "Claims of mistreatment by male staffers from women who worked on his 2016 campaign" were met with a "yawn."

Let's DO parse this one.

Suffice it to say, it's an ill-advised exercise to equate complaints of harassment by women against men on a single campaign to credible accusations made by more than a dozen women of actual sexual assault against the actual candidate. These things are very different -- and women don't want all behaviors conflated into one blob-like superforce of patriarchy.

But also, neither was met with a "yawn." Trump's "Access Hollywood" tape was a huge story, it just didn't resonate with enough voters to ultimately take him down. Allegations against Sanders' campaign have been met with, I believe, the appropriate level of "awakeness."

From here, Milbank makes an important, if obvious, stipulation: "Sanders isn't Trump in the race-baiting, lender-cheating, fact-avoiding, porn-actress-paying, Putin-loving sense."

Hold on. So really, Sanders and Trump aren't alike in any meaningful way, like how they view humanity, their ethical and moral compasses, their relationship with the truth -- in other words, the most important ways.

"But their styles are similar," Milbank goes on. I'm listening...

"(S)houting and unsmiling, anti-establishment and anti-media, absolutely convinced of their own correctness, attacking boogeymen (the "1%" and CEOs in Sanders's case, instead of immigrants and minorities), offering impractical promises with vague details, lacking nuance and nostalgic for the past."

Try this experiment: Take out the parenthetical and pretend you don't know who this is describing. It could literally be any one of a dozen candidates, because what Milbank is accusing Sanders of being is merely a politician.

Let's forget about his hair, his accent and his "style" and have a serious conversation. Bernie Sanders is nothing like Donald Trump. That's because no one is like Donald Trump. He is, in ways that are both impressive and disturbing, inimitable, unprecedented, unique.

Sanders is, if anything, mundane. Because he is in many ways a typical politician. That means, among other things, he is often hypocritical, attacking the 1% while stalling on releasing his own tax returns, as Milbank points out. It means he often talks in platitudes and hypotheticals, providing little detail or proof of concept (have you met Beto O'Rourke?). It means he rails against the "establishment" (see Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, every Tea Party Republican and every progressive Democrat).

Trump is unique because his goal -- his only goal -- is to sow distrust and discord, not for any policy or political gains, but for his own self-gain and self-preservation. He himself motivates everything he does, and everything outside of him is expendable, from the party to our institutions to civility and our safety.

Whatever you think of Bernie Sanders' policies -- and I can't find many I'd support -- let's dispose of the notion that he, or any other candidate, is like Trump.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61125

Reported Deaths: 1711
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5209106
DeSoto328027
Madison228154
Rankin212428
Harrison209832
Jackson192934
Jones176557
Forrest163153
Washington148032
Lauderdale132388
Lee123230
Neshoba119487
Lamar111512
Oktibbeha105235
Lowndes97332
Warren96426
Scott95317
Bolivar93932
Copiah90924
Panola90711
Sunflower90622
Lafayette8699
Holmes84347
Leflore83259
Pike82632
Grenada81220
Yazoo77311
Leake76725
Lincoln74339
Wayne73221
Pontotoc7247
Simpson71126
Monroe69750
Coahoma65910
Tate64523
Marion59918
Adams58025
Covington57811
Winston57115
Marshall5668
George5415
Union51913
Newton51611
Attala49524
Tallahatchie49310
Pearl River48236
Walthall44218
Chickasaw43519
Noxubee41710
Claiborne40013
Smith37713
Jasper3758
Calhoun3748
Clay36814
Alcorn3544
Prentiss3376
Hancock32614
Tishomingo3163
Yalobusha31610
Lawrence3135
Itawamba30710
Tippah30412
Clarke29825
Montgomery2913
Humphreys26911
Tunica2656
Carroll24511
Greene22611
Kemper22315
Perry2217
Quitman2211
Amite2105
Jefferson Davis1986
Webster19712
Jefferson1916
Wilkinson18712
Sharkey1801
Stone1483
Choctaw1264
Benton1240
Franklin1142
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 89927

Reported Deaths: 1580
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson11650225
Mobile8998191
Montgomery6198143
Madison493225
Tuscaloosa391263
Baldwin317522
Shelby300232
Marshall294730
Unassigned263351
Lee249140
Morgan220615
Etowah191425
DeKalb167713
Elmore158437
Calhoun15359
Walker145763
Houston130912
Dallas128023
Russell12201
Franklin118420
Limestone118313
St. Clair118212
Cullman111311
Colbert107612
Lauderdale105312
Autauga101020
Escambia96515
Talladega89013
Jackson8163
Chambers81438
Tallapoosa80478
Dale77619
Butler75135
Blount7223
Covington70420
Coffee7035
Chilton6976
Pike6547
Barbour5625
Lowndes54624
Marion53524
Marengo51514
Clarke4849
Hale44925
Bullock43711
Perry4284
Winston42811
Wilcox4029
Monroe3884
Randolph38810
Conecuh37110
Bibb3643
Pickens3639
Sumter36118
Washington31011
Macon30813
Lawrence3060
Crenshaw2843
Choctaw27312
Henry2433
Greene24011
Cherokee2337
Geneva2260
Clay2165
Lamar1942
Fayette1695
Cleburne1141
Coosa902
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