Hello. My name is Shane. I supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, with my vote and my money, and I continue to support his ideas. As strange as this may sound, though, I also believe that it’s wrong to shoot people with guns.
Hear me out.
Yesterday, a 66-year-old man named James Hodgkinson went to a Congressional baseball field and opened fire on a group of Republicans. He hit four people, and was killed by gunfire in return. In the aftermath of this tragedy, it became clear from the man’s social media that he had been a Bernie Sanders supporter, and even campaigned for him in Iowa.
It didn’t take long for the media—both mainstream and fringe—to put their collective brainpower to use and examine the implications of these two facts. What if, they wondered, being a Bernie Sanders supporter also means that you support murder? This is a fair question, because sometimes in life when there are two separate facts, they are actually related in what scientists call a “causal relationship.” For example, if someone has a really bad disease, and then dies, oftentimes a smart doctor will examine these two facts and conclude that, believe it or not, the person died because of the really bad disease.
So it makes sense that the media would see the following facts:
1. A man killed people.
2. That man supported Bernie Sanders.
To extrapolate from what I’m calling the “medical hypothesis” and ask a legitimate question: Is there something about supporting Bernie Sanders that also makes you kill people?
Of course, this only spawns new questions! If this causal relationship is true, it would mean that there’s something corrupt and violent in the progressive ideology. It could mean that we are on the cusp of an explosion of shootings carried out by Bernie Sanders supporters.
Important political thinkers like Ann Coulter and Paul Joseph Watson were among the first to raise the public’s awareness of this connection…
...and their line of thought spread rapidly, in both right and center-left circles. It wasn't long before respected outlets like the New York Times (which has proved its commitment to honest political analysis with the slogan “the truth is now more important than ever”) took up the cause. In this piece, titled “Attack Tests Movement Sanders Founded,” Yamiche Alcindor drills down to the critical issue of how passionate progressivism might be the same as first-degree murder:
But long before the shooting on Wednesday, some of Mr. Sanders's supporters had earned a belligerent reputation for their criticism of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party and others who they believed disagreed with their ideas. Sanders fans, sometimes referred to derogatorily as “Bernie Bros” or “Bernie Bots,” at times harassed reporters covering Mr. Sanders and flooded social media with angry posts directed at the “corporate media,” a term often used by the senator.
The suspect in the shooting in Virginia put a new spotlight on the rage buried in some corners of the progressive left.
First, let me say that I thank this writer for having the courage to ask the question. What if believing that neoliberal centrism is beholden to corporate and military-industrial influence, and has deprived America of a true left-wing party, is the same as believing that we should run around killing people with guns? What if being angry about the state of our political system is the same as running onto a baseball field and opening fire on Republicans?
If that were the case, you would have to conclude that the entire progressive movement was dangerous. If you heard someone like me utter a sentence like, “I support universal healthcare,” you would assume that you were listening to a probable psychopath who was on the verge of committing an act of domestic terror. Perhaps, you'd reason, the entire movement should be dismantled for our safety! Perhaps, if someone is heard arguing that slashing social security is wrong, or that we shouldn't use means testing for welfare, they are violent zealots who should be jailed for the safety of the country.
To that I say: “Well, hold on just a moment, sir.”
As it happens, I am an example of a person who holds the seemingly contradictory views that Bernie Sanders' policies are good, while shooting people to death is bad.
I know this will be difficult to understand for many, which is why I ask for your patience as I try to explain this complicated paradox. Let me put it as simply as I can:
James Hodgkinson once wrote a letter to the editor in Belleville, IL, arguing that tax rates on rich people should be higher.
I agree with him.
James Hodgkinson later went to a congressional baseball field and shot at Republicans.
I am opposed to this.
I know this can be hard to accept. Maybe a second example will help.
James Hodgkinson signed an online petition called “Healthcare for All Americans,” which is a classic Bernie Sanders viewpoint.
I also believe that every American should have healthcare.
James Hodgkinson went on to shoot Republicans at a baseball field.
This, I am against.
You might read such incompatible facts and think, sorry Shane, but I read the media yesterday, and I just can't reconcile the idea that you both support progressive politics and stand against acts of political terror.
To which I say, sure, I get that, and I respect your view. To continue our friendly debate, I offer Bernie Sanders' own statement. Maybe this will help:
Again, you may feel confused. Maybe you were expecting Bernie to come out with a statement that said, “this man was my volunteer, I support his actions, and I hope everyone who voted for me now goes out and shoots people.”
But as you see, that’s not what happened. He took the stance that peaceful revolution is good, but violence is bad. And all I’m asking—before you paint all Sanders supporters as extremist lunatics, which is a reasonable conclusion to draw after yesterday’s shooting—is that you consider theidea that perhaps the two things aren’t related in any meaningful way.
(Quick side note: I have seen some comments, in certain corners, that conservatives and centrist Democrats who bend over backwards trying to connect Bernie’s positions with yesterday’s shooting are engaged in cynical politicking, and are using any means at their disposal to kneecap a movement that terrifies them…that, in fact, even they don’t believe the bullshit they’re peddling, and are only making the argument because they’re totally bereft of all decency and integrity. I firmly disagree. These people are patriots.)
While I have you here, there are three more seemingly contradictory positions I’d like to confess.
1. I like the actor Jodie Foster, and have enjoyed her films. I share this opinion with John Hinckley Jr. However, I don’t believe it’s okay to shoot Ronald Reagan.
2. Once in a while, if I have nothing else to do on a weekend, I’ll watch a golf tournament for a few minutes. I have even played golf. However, I am staunch in my belief that it’s not okay to grab women in the groin area against their will.
3. I think it’s important for young people of progressive persuasion to run for office as members of the Democratic party. John Wayne Gacy also believed this, and even followed through. However, I think it’s wrong to dress up as a clown, murder teenage boys, and bury them in the crawl space of my home.
Finally, I would like to say that although I disavow any association between supporting Bernie Sanders and also supporting murder by gun, I cannot say the same for home inspectors. You see, the man who shot at the Republican congressman was not just a home inspector—he was a licensed home inspector. In my opinion, his attack is an unexpected test for the integrity of that profession. And I find it noteworthy that home inspectors have been imprisoned for various crimes in the past. By implication, do home inspectors also support murder? What explains this record of violence? I’m not saying this is a widespread epidemic, but I am asking the question, and I believe it’s incumbent upon members of the profession to answer.