Bernie Sanders may portray himself as an advocate for the environment and economic justice, but his lavish lifestyle says otherwise.
Less than a week after Sanders entered the presidential race, former staffers of Hillary Clinton took a snipe at Sanders for his use of private jets while stumping for Clinton in the general election.
Sanders’ private jet use revealed
Six former staffers of Hillary Clinton ignited some intra-party drama Monday when they told Politico that Sanders demanded private jet travel that eventually cost the campaign at least $100,000. The campaign wanted Sanders to use mostly commercial travel but he insisted on flying in a private jet. Sanders’ travel habits became a “running joke” to the Clinton campaign, a former staffer said.
Sanders has made protecting the environment a priority of his campaign, embracing the Green New Deal, which seeks to eliminate carbon emissions from American life in 10 years to stop climate change. Part of that plan calls for eliminating air travel.
Private jet travel isn’t unusual on campaigns, and a spokeswoman for Sanders said that it was logistically impossible for him to pull off a late-stage campaign blitz for Clinton — 39 rallies in 13 states — without chartering flights.
“That’s why chartered flights were used: to make sure Sen. Sanders could get to as many locations as quickly as possible in the effort to help the Democratic ticket defeat Donald Trump,” Sanders spokeswoman Arianna Jones told Politico. “Sen. Sanders campaigned so aggressively for Secretary Clinton, at such a grueling pace, it became a story unto itself, setting the model for how a former opponent can support a nominee in a general election.”
However, Sanders continued to use private jets in the two years since 2016 election, with his re-election campaign spending $342,000 on private jet travel to stump for Democrats all over the country last year. Jones said that Sanders bought carbon offsets to limit fuel emissions for that tour.
Hypocrite on climate, economy
The once-underdog has become a front-runner in the 2020 race, and he has come under increased scrutiny for a lifestyle which critics say is at odds with his socialist politics. Critics say that Sanders’ private jet use shows the self-avowed advocate for the environment and social justice to be a hypocrite.
The Clinton campaign’s broadside is just the latest accusation of hypocrisy to hit Sanders. The proud socialist is a millionaire and owns three homes.
He’s not alone. Numerous Democrats speak of the wealthy as the enemy while leading comfortable lives apart from the rabble. Democratic upstart Rep. Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) recently moved into a luxury apartment complex in Washington, D.C, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), known for fiery invective against the rich, has a net worth of nearly $8 million.
Crabs in a barrel
But Sanders’ status as the leader of a grassroots movement that pushed his party far to the Left makes his hypocrisy more impactful. Two years later, the Democratic party has become the party of Sanders’ democratic socialism — if only in spirit.
If 2020 is not Sanders’ year, the far-left challenge that he brought against the Democratic party establishment left a permanent imprint on the party — and the Clinton camp with an enduring grudge. Some Clinton supporters thought that Sanders’ endorsement was too little, too late, and two years later, former staffers of Clinton are trying to drag him down by throwing a bright red light on his lavish lifestyle choices.
Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said that the Clinton campaign’s attack shows exactly why nobody likes Hillary Clinton.
“You can see why she’s one of the most disliked politicians in America. She’s not nice. Her people are not nice,” he said. “[Sanders] busted his tail to fly all over the country to talk about why it made sense to elect Hillary Clinton and the thanks that [we] get is this kind of petty stupid sniping a couple years after the fact.”
“It doesn’t make me feel good to feel this way but they’re some of the biggest assholes in American politics,” he added.
For their part, Sanders supporters haven’t forgotten about how their candidate was jilted by an apparently biased Democratic National Committee, either, with Sanders saying he “fully expects” a fair shake this time.
Sanders’ campaign got off to an impressive start with fundraising, collecting nearly $10 million in less than a week — far more than his competitors. But some question whether Bernie can evoke the energy he brought out in his supporters in 2016, particularly as his once-radical ideas have become standard in a crowded field of candidates. It certainly doesn’t help that he is facing attacks so early on from a vengeful Democratic party establishment. His campaign also hit a bump when numerous top staffers headed for the exits within days of the launch.
Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor’s degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.