On January 14, the investigative outlet Project Veritas released undercover footage of dialogue between one of their embedded journalists and a senior member of the Iowa field operation for the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign.
In the video, Kyle Jurek predicts with relish violence in the event of a Democratic convention in which the Vermont senator is denied the nomination. And, of course, cities will burn if Donald Trump wins reelection. Jurek also praised the approaches of Joseph Stalin and the government of Fidel Castro in Cuba toward counterrevolutionaries, and said Sanders could not campaign by openly espousing views such as his own.
As usual, Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe teased at the end that this was not even the most inflammatory footage of Jurek. The campaign staffer, in fact, was arrested in Iowa earlier this month for driving while intoxicated and related offenses.
If recent history is a guide, it would be a mistake to give journalists the standing of rock stars. Nevertheless, O’Keefe’s track record would make him the Jimmy Page of investigative reporting, at least on the Right.
But O’Keefe’s latest scoop could use some perspective. Jurek’s private statements do not necessarily reflect the views of Sanders, other campaign staffers, volunteers, or reporters. Certainly some of Jurek’s disparaging remarks about his candidate—particularly calling him a poor judge of character for retaining long-time campaign manager Jeff Weaver as an advisor—shouldn’t be ascribed to the campaign.
Finally, though Jurek was a senior official with Sanders’ Iowa campaign, it is not as if he’s part of Sanders’ inner circle. Some of his views were probably presumptions rather than things that he knew for a fact.
Even so, the video footage of Jurek is important not for what it reveals about Sanders but rather as a demonstration of the type of people who see the Vermont socialist as a vehicle to enact a radical agenda.
Birds of a Feather
Throughout his career, Sanders has attracted an eclectic following of idealistic hippie ice cream producers, consumer advocates, radicals young and old, self-absorbed celebrities and dissident journalists. It follows that not every supporter of Medicare for All, non-interventionist foreign policy, and tighter banking regulations is a crypto-Bolshevik, but that’s the point. All of these people may be Sanders supporters, but none of them have been actual functionaries of his.
And according to Jurek in Veritas’ second video, he is but one of many such revolutionary Communists within Bernie’s campaign staff.
Were he to take office on January 21, 2021, Sanders would be over 79 years old, making him the oldest president by far upon his inauguration. His nomination may hinge on being able to court a moderate running mate, but there is nothing necessarily stopping him from choosing someone reliably radical, such as former State Senator Nina Turner of Ohio, and demanding that person be confirmed by the DNC.
Other acolytes of Sanders are Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who refuses to answer questions from her hometown newspaper about her alleged marriage fraud; senior adviser David Sirota, who claimed in 2013 that Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela was an “economic miracle”; John Podesta’s former stooge, Faiz Shakir, as his campaign manager; and radical left internationalist and Islamophobia watchdog Matt Duss as his foreign policy adviser. This is just part of the adviser and surrogate circle around the Vermont senator.
Democrats Against the Constitution
As it is composed today, the United States Constitution would not allow one of these people to take power in the event Sanders were to be incapacitated as president unless they were within the order of succession. Democrats, despite occasional wailing to the contrary, are bereft of any commitment to defending the Constitution and preserving it. Here are just some of their proposals:
- Sanders’ chief rival, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), has stated repeatedly that she hopes to abolish the Electoral College in favor of a direct popular vote
- Many liberal and progressive opinion writers like Ed Kilgore and Jamelle Bouie are promoting the option of packing the Supreme Court as a necessity. This dubious policy that even in FDR’s era with a supermajority was rejected by congressional Democrats, would effectively abolish the independence of the judicial branch.
- Democrats have been champing at the bit to end the equal apportionment of seats between states in the U.S. Senate, including one proposal by a Wharton professor in The Atlantic that would give California 12 seats and Vermont just one.
This is all on top of their track record of using accusations relying on innuendo against several Republican Supreme Court nominees, the FISA process abuse and other aspects of the Trump-Russia probe, the IRS-Tea Party audit targeting, and plenty of other examples of abuse of power under President Obama.
In 2016, civil liberties supporters were often at a loss about to whom they should offer their support, but many on the Left felt that Bernie Sanders could be the one to defend their perspective against an establishment authoritarian like Clinton, not to mention Donald Trump who they consider a fascist demagogue.
Even those of us who despise Sanders’ policies can at least sympathize with the skewed media coverage of him that included assuming that he had told Elizabeth Warren that a woman could not get elected president, notwithstanding the lack of an independent witness to that statement. Tucker Carlson, whose show has been the target of a Media Matters deplatforming campaign for two years, condemned CNN’s bias against Sanders on his Fox News show.
But the progressive leaders arrayed around Sanders are not similarly concerned with fairness and certainly are not concerned with defending liberties so much as they are with taking them.
In April 2019, Sanders’ supporter and progressive icon Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) suggested that Americans are not competent or available to prepare their own taxes so the IRS should do it for them. Another, Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, accused a witness during a hearing on vaping products of engaging in a conspiracy with one of the GOP members of the panel based on a look that the two exchanged. After the witness informed Tlaib that she and the other congressman were acquainted, Tlaib then accused her of having lied about quitting smoking.
Kyle Jurek was right about one thing: politicians cannot just reveal their draconian dreams publicly during an election campaign. Therefore their real intent must be drawn from their behavior and implicit clues in their public statements.
O’Keefe’s video was interspersed with old clips of Sanders as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont praising Soviet society after visiting in the 1980s. In 2016, rather than hold the line against a woman who he deemed a corporate puppet, Sanders endorsed his tormentor, Hillary Clinton, in 2016 and genuflected to her for the remainder of the campaign. He might not openly support reeducation camps, but that’s no reassurance as he seems to know how to swallow propaganda, be a good boy, and cave to pressure.