by Steve Poikonen
Sen. Bernie Sanders has amassed more volunteers than any other 2020 presidential candidate, he noted to 7,000 volunteers on a conference call Aug. 27. He has more small and individual donors, and the most diverse base in the democratic 2020 field, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. Sen. Sanders has built this army of supporters by championing labor, LGTBQ+ rights, going after Wall St., big Pharma, CEOs, banks and most recently, the corporate media bias. Bernie, to the casual observer, is THE candidate for the average American who has long suffered under unfettered capitalism and a media complicit in perpetuating false narratives in support of the status quo.
So why the hell won’t Sanders say Julian Assange’s name out loud?
Action 4 Assange’s own Taylor Hudak published the first and only complete list of presidential candidate statements on Julian Assange. The totality of Bernie’s remarks are contained within this tweet, written 44 days after Julian was dragged from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
The Sanders campaign is marketed as a worker collective. It has a union. Independent journalists work for Team Sanders. David Sirota and Brie Gray know how important it is to stop, as journalist Chris Hedges puts it, the slow motion crucifixion of Julian Assange. They have not said a damn word.
There is an axiom among US progressives that goes, “Bernie Sanders listens to his base, and we can move him to the left.” I would challenge and plead with those progressives to make the case to Team Sanders for the life of Julian Assange and the future of press freedom.
I hold no deep convictions that Sanders will make it through another openly rigged primary and into a general election to challenge Trump. Should that happen, due to his silence on this issue, I cannot begin to speculate how a President Sanders would treat the case of Julian Assange. The current administration has filed a request for extradition, taking the previous administration’s desires and turning them into a possible reality. There are no candidates polling above 5% who have provided written or verbal support for Julian, Wikileaks, Chelsea Manning or whistleblowers in general.
Bernie Sanders has made Medicare For All a cornerstone of his campaign. His apparent refusal to comment on Assange leaves a deeply concerning question to fill that silent space. Are you willing to trade press freedom for health care?
Steve Poikonen hosts Slow News Day on YouTube, co-hosts the Free Assange Vigil Series, occasionally writes and lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains.