The corporate media are busy doing the Sanders campaign’s heavy lifting by trumpeting his desperate call for Hillary Clinton to release speech transcripts, an evidence-free insinuation of corruption that should be beneath Bernie.
And it is dismaying that Bernie’s positive message of 2015 has devolved into a relentless assault on Hillary’s integrity, using innuendo and guilt-by-association to tarnish her image and damage her for the general election should she be the Democratic nominee.
Meanwhile, aside from glancing mentions by Joy Reid and Jake Tapper, there has been complete media silence on Sierra Blanca, a shocking and distressing example of Bernie acting in direct contradiction to the values he espouses.
Bernie Sanders made a cold political calculation in 1998 that affected the lives of hundreds of poor, powerless people half a country away. He did it because it would benefit his affluent, politically engaged constituency, and, in turn, benefit him.
In 1998, then Representative Bernie Sanders cosponsored and actively ushered a bill through Congress that would allow Vermont and Maine to dump their nuclear waste in the poor disadvantaged Hispanic community of Sierra Blanca, Texas. Three West Texan protestors went to Vermont to plead with then Representative Sanders that the dump site shouldn’t be located in this poor minority community, Mr. Sanders told the three activists, “My position is unchanged and you’re not going to like it.”
Fighting the passage of bill H.R. 629 in the senate, Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) spoke on the matter in great length and detail. In short, it was a case of environmental injustice. Despite the findings of the consultants that Sierra Blanca was not a good site due to its “complex geology” and also a history of earthquakes in the past due to tectonic faults in El Paso and Hudspeth counties, the Waste Authority still went ahead and picked the site because the people living there would be least likely to resist or make a fuss about it, since the majority of the residents are Spanish-speaking and poor.
More from Daily Kos:
If history tells us anything about minority communities they seemingly always get the short end of the stick. Flint, MI is one such community that comes to mind. In this case, the community of Sierra Blanca didn’t have any real political clout and they were reaching out to Mr. Sanders for help. Mr. Sanders could have stood behind this very poor Hispanic community, but as his response to the protesters revealed, he chose the political expedient route.
Sierra Blanca is home to a large Latino population with an average income of $8,000. Last year, Politifact called the assertion that Bernie “cosponsored the bill and actively ushered it through Congress” largely accurate.
Conclusion from the People’s View:
A factoid one should note here was that at this time, the governor for whom the TLLRWDA was working was none other than George W. Bush. So, despite all that has happened to select the nuclear waste site, what was the course of action taken by Bernie Sanders? He feigned ignorance. Instead of acknowledging the environmental injustice that was going on, he washed his hands clean of any responsibility for that.
But that is not the most egregious and inexcusable aspect of the Sierra Blanca scandal. Rather, it’s what Bernie did after progressive hero Paul Wellstone inserted language into the Senate bill giving the community legal rights to oppose the dump.
Bernie strongly supported stripping out Wellstone’s provisions and returning to the original bill that he co-sponsored (and aggressively promoted) which gave the Sierra Blanca community no rights to fight back.
That’s not a progressive revolution.
That’s not even progressive.
(AP Photo/John Bazemore)