Sanders' Snowden Response Proves He Doesn't Want a "Revolution"
Sanders' Snowden Response Proves He Doesn't Want a "Revolution"
By Evan Greer / huffingtonpost.com

Tuesday night at the Democratic presidential debate, leftist favorite Bernie Sanders clarified his feelings about National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

"I think Snowden played a very important role in educating the American public ... he did break the law, and I think there should be a penalty to that," Sanders said. He went on to say that the role Snowden played in educating the public about violations of their civil liberties should be considered before he is sentenced, and that as president he would "absolutely" end the NSA spying programs in question.

To read between the lines: Bernie thinks Edward Snowden did the right thing, but hey, laws are laws. If elected, though, it sounds like he'll make sure Snowden gets a really nice jail cell.

Bernie was quick to point out that what Snowden did was illegal, and that he should face the consequences for it. Instead of calling for stronger legal protections for whistleblowers, or offering to pardon Snowden if elected, he called for the former NSA contractor to come home and face trial in a country with a dodgy record of imprisoning and prosecuting whistleblowers, dissidents, activists and journalists.

But notably absent from his law abiding approach was a call for criminal charges against NSA officials or his colleagues in Congress who repeatedly authorized the illegal mass surveillance programs he claims he would end as president. Programs that we would still know nothing about without Edward Snowden's "illegal" actions, which Bernie thinks he should face jail time for.

Where is Bernie's call for criminal sanctions against the web companies that betrayed their users' trust, violated their own privacy policies, and enabled the most sweeping violation of the Fourth Amendment in history?

Where is his apology to the rest of the world for the United States' decades of human rights abuses, economic espionage, and illegal torture programs?

I've learned over the years to no longer be shocked by politicians' ability to speak out of both sides of their mouths, but I can't help feeling that this quote from Sanders underscores a huge flaw in his thinking and the thinking of his supporters.

Sanders has based his campaign on the premise that the United States' political and economic systems are so flawed that we need a "revolution," but when a thorny question like Snowden comes up it becomes clear that what he's really calling for is a changing of the guard.

Civil disobedience, the idea that we have a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws, should not be a foreign concept to a longtime activist like Sanders. As of right now, there is no Federal law that protects me from being fired from my job or denied housing as a transgender person. Not terribly long ago child labor was perfectly legal while women were denied the right to vote.

As those who #FeelTheBern were quick to point out (and then point out again, and again, and again) after Sanders was brilliantly trolled by Black Lives Matter protesters, Bernie marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in 1963. He was even arrested for protesting school segregation.

So when did Bernie become such a stickler for law and order over justice and freedom? Probably when he decided he wanted to be president of the "Free World."

As someone who cares deeply about economic injustice and many of the other things that Sanders has made cornerstones of his campaign, I want to like him. I want to feel the same hope and inspiration that his starry-eyed supporters are spreading across social media.

But when I look at the major political progress we've made in recent years, it hasn't come from elected officials, no matter how well spoken. It's come primarily from brave, dedicated, people and movements, many of whom broke the law to achieve their goals. Wikileaks, protesters in Ferguson, the Arab Spring, and yes, whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.

I agree with Bernie Sanders that mass surveillance programs are dangerous. But what's more dangerous is the type of thinking behind them. Thinking that says that laws, rules, and following authority matter more than what's right and wrong. It's an ideology that breeds conformity and strangles democracy.

Until Bernie's revolution recognizes and embraces the real struggle we have between us and a free and just society, and honors those who have taken risks to bring us closer to that day, I think I'll be writing in Edward Snowden on election day.

 

is the campaign Director of Fight for the Future, radical queer singer/songwriter, parent, lover and fighter. She / hers pronouns please
3.8 ·
1
What's Next
Trending Today
18 Empowering Illustrations to Remind Everyone Who's Really in Charge of Women's Bodies
Julianne Ross · 16,784 views today · When Brazilian graphic designer Carol Rossetti began posting colorful illustrations of women and their stories to Facebook, she had no idea how popular they would...
Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children
Jan Hunt · 11,535 views today · 1. We expect children to be able to do things before they are ready. We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a 2-year-old to sit still. We ask a 3-year-old to clean his room...
Beyond Civilization: Humanity's Next Great Adventure
Daniel Quinn · 9,309 views today · PART ONE A fable to start with Once upon a time life evolved on a certain planet, bringing forth many different social organizations—packs, pods, flocks, troops, herds, and...
Lawns Are for Suckers. Plant a Garden - for the Climate!
Nathanael Johnson · 4,152 views today · Ripping out your lawn and planting kale and peppers won’t just lead to great stir-fry — a new study finds it could make major contributions to fighting climate change...
You Should Get Naked More Often. It's Good for You.
Joni Sweet · 2,654 views today · When Nelly encouraged overheated people worldwide to get naked in 2002, he was unknowingly advocating much more than just a sexy, sweaty dance party. Sunbathing, sleeping...
How Native Americans Managed "Wild" Land Long Before Settlers
Sami Grover · 2,174 views today · When European settlers first came to North America, they assumed they were looking at "untouched" nature. Sure, there were native peoples, but history tells us they didn't...
Solidarity Is About What You Do - Not Who You Are.
R.L. Stephens · 1,966 views today · I am Black. I capitalize Black and leave white lowercased. Sure, it’s the accepted spelling, but really I do it because it feels good. My family lived in Missouri, but my...
A New Story for Humanity (2016)
102 min · 1,529 views today · Inspired by the New Story Summit at the Findhorn Foundation: a sold-out multicultural, multigenerational inquiry into a new story for humanity, attended by change makers and...
Bioregional Quiz: How Well Do You Know the Place in Which You Live?
Rua Lupa · 1,440 views today · In the vast emptiness of space there are an unimaginable number of galaxies, each galaxy containing billions upon billions of stars. Looking at one galaxy we find an average...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,353 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Gabor Maté: Why Our Culture Makes So Many Of Us Unhappy
3 min · 1,085 views today · Dr. Gabor Maté explains why it is that our culture makes so many of us unhappy, unkind to one another, miserable, alienated from ourselves, etc. Watch the full interview in Part 2.
Masculinity Is Killing Men: The Roots of Men and Trauma
Kali Holloway · 893 views today · We begin the damaging process of turning boys into men long before boyhood ends.
Why You Should Take Your Kids Out of School
Ben Hewitt · 757 views today · We don't need no education. At least not of the traditional, compulsory, watch-the-clock-until-the-bell-rings kind. As a growing movement of unschoolers believe, a steady diet...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 622 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 619 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are
Mark Wolynn · 613 views today · The past is never dead. It’s not even past. — William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
Why People's Opinions of You Aren't Real
4 min · 555 views today · "You are what you love and not what loves you." - From Charlie Kaufman's film "Adaptation"
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh · 514 views today · Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in...
How Stress Affects Your Brain
4 min · 506 views today · Stress isn’t always a bad thing; it can be handy for a burst of extra energy and focus, like when you’re playing a competitive sport or have to speak in public. But when it’s...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 477 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Sanders' Snowden Response Proves He Doesn't Want a "Revolution"