Hot on the heels of his big primary and caucus victories in Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii over the weekend, Bernie Sanders received another boost for his campaign—an endorsement from comedian Sarah Silverman.
Silverman, who supported Barack Obama in 2012 and has previously backed Hillary Clinton in this year’s race, took to Facebook in a video posted on Monday to explain what led her to #FeeltheBern. With her endorsement, the comic joins an eclectic group of celebrity Sanders supporters, one that includes actress Susan Sarandon, rapper Killer Mike, and pro-capitalism UFC star Ronda Rousey.
Friendos! I made this vid about why I'm voting #BERNIE. Hope u eat it up. Bernie Sanders JASH
Posted by Sarah Silverman on Monday, March 28, 2016
In a departure from her usual style, Silverman gushes about the 74-year-old Vermont senator, whom she describes as a “once-in-a-lifetime candidate who genuinely represents the interests of people.” She goes on to cite the policies she finds particularly persuasive—namely, Bernie’s universal health-care promises, promise of free education, and pledge to increase the federal minimum wage to a “livable” wage.
The essence of Silverman’s message, however, centers around two main talking points form the Sanders campaign: Campaign finance reform, and Bernie’s special brand of “democratic socialism.”
We Know Corporations Are Evil, But What About Unions?
A big selling point for Sanders has been his opposition to private money in politics, and more specifically his commitment to overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. In fact, this stance is so persuasive with his voting base that he risks losing support if he doesn’t denounce them; perhaps that’s why he’s actually sent a cease and desist letter to a super PAC that supports him.
“This man is running for president on a platform that is just a giant ‘f*ck you’ to the above-the-law billionaire class,” Silverman says in her video, sounding positively giddy. “He’s proven that Citizens United is not a necessary evil, it’s just evil.”
Bernie and co. love to paint the picture of the greedy corporate boogeyman, rigging elections left and right with his millions of dollars he probably earned unjustly. Indeed, some seem to think Citizens United is just another unfair loophole for the nation’s richest companies to use to their advantage. But the Supreme Court’s ruling gave regular individuals and, more importantly, labor unions the exact same right to give as much as they want to political action committees.
In fact, as the Seattle Times reports, nearly half of the top 20 organizational contributors to super PACs so far in 2016 have been unions or their affiliates, not big businesses. But this is rarely mentioned by the Sanders campaign. Why? Perhaps it’s because some of his supporters give to these lesser-known super PACs. In this year’s primary season, for instance, no union has spent as much as the National Nurses United, which has dished out over half a million in support of Sanders.
Interestingly, the group claims they’re not a super PAC simply because they’re not corrupt — they’re just “nurses who want to get our support for Bernie out there.” Could it be that these nurses are just exercising their First Amendment rights, guaranteed to them by the very ruling they detest?
Don’t Worry Guys, Socialism Is Totally American
It’s no secret that Bernie’s self-professed socialist leanings have been a major hindrance to the success of his campaign with virtually all demographics other than millennials, who have become increasingly sympathetic to that concept of government. Consequently, Bernie’s celebrity groupies have been doing their utmost to put your fears to rest.
After telling us not be worried because “under President Sanders you can still become a super-rich asshole,” Silverman attempts to explain Sanders’ brand of socialism by putting it this way: “He just believes that people who don’t have the same advantages as you and me should be given the same advantages as you and me.” To further illustrate the concept, she says firefighters are the perfect example of socialism: “That’s a socialized program—it’s a program the government pays for so that everyone can have it.”
Ah yes, this old line. Proponents of big government often trot out examples of public services as evidence that socialist programs already exist in America, and they’re nothing to fear. Yet this is purposefully misleading, because it ignores the fundamental differences between socialism and public goods. Socialism is an economic and political system in which a centralized government owns the means of production of major commercial industries, and controls the distribution of goods and services.
Public goods tend to be services the private sector can’t provide effectively. Government tax dollars may pay for institutions like fire departments or law enforcement, but local entities still retain control over their management and operations in a way that allows them to reflect their local community’s needs. This is what makes it not socialism. The social programs Sanders advocates for, on the other hand—government-paid preK-20 education, universal health care, and expanded Social Security, to name a few—are big-government programs of a far different sort.
At the close of her video, Silverman urges viewers not to get “sucked into a rigged American Dream Ponzi scheme that was never meant to include you.” But it seems that Bernie and his supporters are trying to sell a rigged American Dream of their own, one in which the government—not individual people—has the power.