The Corner

Elections

Bernie Sanders Is Not a ‘Family Values’ Candidate

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a Get Out the Early Vote campaign rally in Santa Ana, Calif., February 21, 2020. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Writing in the New York Times, columnist Elizabeth Bruenig lays out a plan for how Bernie Sanders could still capture the Democratic presidential nomination, describing him as “a family values candidate in disguise.”

Bruenig insists that, because elements of Sanders’s platform such as “universal health care, subsidized child care and guaranteed paid parental leave” are “de rigeur” in much of Europe, his socialist campaign really isn’t all that revolutionary, and he should make the case for it accordingly.

She says Sanders should emphasize his plans for government-funded child care and parental leave, insisting that these plans are already popular among Americans. (Child care and paid leave are popular on their own terms, but the public-opinion data become much more complicated when you introduce questions about who should fund them.)

“Go to the voting booth for Mr. Sanders, because he wants all kids — your kids, my kids — to be safe and happy. He wants to give all parents time to nurse, cuddle and bond with their newborns without sinking into debt or poverty,” Bruenig concludes.

What Bruenig ignores, of course, is the inconvenient fact that Sanders is radically pro-abortion-rights and has been for far longer than the Democratic Party itself. Back when some Democratic politicians still considered themselves pro-life or voted in favor of abortion restrictions or conscience protections for pro-lifers, there was Sanders, standing staunchly in favor of abortion on demand, at any stage of pregnancy, for any reason, funded by taxpayers.

In the last few days, Sanders has begun using his long history of support for abortion to attack his Democratic rival Joe Biden, who throughout his career has supported some limited restrictions on abortion and on government funding for it.

“I am proud to tell you that I have a 100 percent pro-choice voting record throughout my entire life,” Sanders told the crowds at his various rallies over the weekend. “I believed then, and I believe now, that it is women who have a right to control their own bodies, not the government.”

This might not matter much to your typical Sanders fan, who most likely would cheer him for it, but Bruenig considers herself a traditional Catholic and is publicly anti-abortion. She makes no mention of her preferred candidate’s stance on the issue in this column, even as she lauds his “family values” platform.

There’s room to debate whether vast, government-run programs are the best way to help parents spend more time with their children. There’s no room to argue that a man who prides himself on his history of aggressive support for abortion is “a family values candidate in disguise.”

That disguise must really be working.

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