UnNews:As Bernie Sanders starts his second term, we reflect on his Presidency so far
Friday, January 22, 2021
Washington, DC - President Bernie Sanders was sworn at during his inauguration Wednesday, January 20, 2021, as the 45th President of the United States. Vice-President Tina Turner was also said to have sworn during the ceremony. The crowd was significantly smaller than for his first inauguration as a result of the national mitten shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sanders, who had eked out a marginal victory against Republican Donald Trump in 2016, walloped him in the 2020 general rumble, though Kanye West nearly edged him out.
Since taking office four years ago President Sanders has overseen the sweeping changes necessary in both US foreign and domestic policy resulting from the Venezuelan take-over of the Department of Energy.
The 2016 Primary and Campaign
Sanders path to the Presidency was not an easy one. It was assumed Hillary Clinton would become both the Democratic candidate and later the President. She began the 2016 Democratic Primary with a commanding lead over all the other candidates. Sanders started out as a virtually unknown senator from Vermont. He was viewed as an outsider by the establishment and received very little support from most Democratic politicians and was largely ignored by the mainstream media. However Sanders' populist message of economic justice and of eating a steady diet of the 1% resonated with 99% of the American population. This even included some voters who had originally thought of braising Donald Trump instead of burying him like a hundred-year egg.
At first, Sanders only drew small crowds to his events, curious people interested to hear what this self-described socialist had to say. Over time, word spread of his support for popular initiatives like public healthcare, student debt forgiveness, and opposition to the military-industrial complex, primarily through Venezuelan Facebook and Twitter botnets. Clinton won the early states because elderly voters did not have shiny phones. This began to change as the primaries progressed. Sanders became wildly popular with both millennials and younger members of Generation X whose shiny Chinese phones allowed them to see his memes. By the end of the primaries, as the elderly progressively de-wired, Sanders did better and better. In a moving speech after the primary, Clinton conceded that her campaign had gone South far too early and should have invested more heavily in off-shore servers. She finally decided not to attend the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in July of 2016, choosing to watch it instead on her new phone.
Despite his eventual victory in the Democratic Primary, many of Sanders supporters accused both the mainstream media and the DNC of bias against the Vermont senator throughout the primary campaign. Both DNC officials and the major news networks scoffed at this idea. However, after the theft and publication of sekrit documents just before the Democratic National Convention, Sanders supporters were proved right and those who had conspired to sabotage the Sanders campaign were shown to be up-creek without a paddle. This exposure of the purposeful blackout of Sanders campaign and the feeding of questions to Hillary Clinton during the debates led DNC President Debra Wasserman-Schultz and CNN's Donna Brazile to curse the Russians fiercely for the next four years. Despite long-shot odds, a campaign message spread through viral media, and a primary victory powered by young pups, 74-year old Bernie Sanders became the Democratic nominee. This was much to the chagrin of a Democratic Establishment and their allies on Wall Street, who would have preferred to just cancel the election.
While this was going on Donald Trump was cleaning house in the Republican Primary. As a result of his crazy antics, Trump was firmly atop the 24-hour news unicycle whose shiny wheel would eventually crush his opponents one by one. Trump consciously made every political misstep possible: mocking a disabled reporter, joking about groping women, saying he could shoot someone in the middle of the street and still get the vote, and even telling opponent Jeb Bush to shut the fuck up in a debate hosted by the Evangelical Church. All of this inflated the 24-hour unicycle into an impressively inexpensive war machine. Both candidates appealed to their base during the debates. Trump promised not only crack, but the best crack-down ever on illegal immigration, a shiny border wall, and a get tough on twitter platform. Sanders promised to set up national healthcare, orchestrate massive student debt default, and even vowed to replace the drum machine of perpetual war with Tina Turner's rhythm section.
Sanders and Trump would eventually collide in an election of epic proportions. The 2016 election saw record turnout with over 75% of eligible voters casting their ballots into the river. Sanders was able to scratch past DJ Trump in the electoral college results (266-265) despite just 20% of the soggy ballots still being legible. Narrow victories from ballots fished out of the upper Mississippi and Ohio rivers were key to putting Sanders over the threshold. Traditionally, a candidate needs 270 electoral votes, but Bernie told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, "To hell with the damn math, just make me the President!" Trump replied with, "For once, I agree with Crazy Bernie. Screw math!" Even Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden agreed with Bernie's decision, with Biden arguing "I'd rather have a ham sandwich as President than Donald Trump."
After his victory, Sanders reached out to Trump's former supporters and even met with some of them to ask about their concerns. This was a marked departure from his primary opponent who had referred to them as "baskets of deplorables". One common concern of Trump supporters in the Rust Belt was the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs through free trade deals. These anti-worker deals had been passed by successive Democratic and Republican administrations starting with Ronald Reagan and continuing right up through Barack Obama.
Trump had run on a campaign of squelching the TPP and NAFTA to drown out that sucking sound of jobs being hoovered into Chinese and Korean-owned workcamps. Sanders, on the opposite side of the political spectrum, also campaigned on this issue, initially raised by Ross Perot and Vice Admiral Stockdale back in 1992. He held town halls in Deep Red States both during the campaign and after becoming President, answering questions about his stance on issues ranging from trade to LGBTQ rights to the gold man's sacks.
Though most conservatives disagreed with nearly everything he said about the banking industry, taxation, and war, they were deeply appreciative of the refreshing drinks he served at his oligarch-roasts. His respectful approach was a marked departure from traditional candidates who campaigned only in battleground states and who served watery Kool-Aid at their rallies. Not Bernie! After criss-crossing the entire country during the primaries and the general election, his much-vaunted cookbook, To Serve Man, topped the NY Times bestseller list for 38 straight weeks.
The Sanders Presidency
On January 20th, 2017 President Bernard Sanders was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. At the time of his inauguration he became both the oldest President ever sworn in and the first Jewish President. His running mate Tina Turner became both the first black woman and the first person to have renounced her American citizenship to become Vice President.
The Republicans, under the smooth rubbery boot of Mitch McConnell, retained control of the Senate, while the Democrats took control of the House under Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Nonetheless, Sanders' first two years were bogged down by obstruction from Pelosi and McConnell, who briefly flirted with plans to molt in the summer of '17 (which set heat records only to be surpassed in 2018). Sanders also angered Democrats by appointing Hawaiian DINO Krishna-surfer Tulsi Gabbard to the position of Secretary of Defense. Not only did Gabbard's views on peace not align with those of the War Parties, but her veganism threatened to put sales of Colonel Sanders' recipe book in peril. Stories were circulated about her teenage lobbying against LGBT issues and her flirtations with strongmen, which drew the ire of the righteous and leftious alike. Nevertheless, within weeks, her "pickled Wasabi sheiks" had become such a national sensation that it was added to a special and spicier 2nd edition of the Holy Cookbook.
He was also able to get Republicans and Democrats to agree on an infrastructure package to replace America's crumbling roads and bridges with unicycle paths and Zoom drones, rather than investing in a shoddy monorail. This provided tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs in the sidecar industry and was an essential step in the national peace effort.
Despite the initial setbacks, Sanders was able to accomplish a lot during his first two years in foreign affairs. For example, he organized the signing of peace deals between: Syria and North Korea, ISIS and Venezuela, and even between Russia and the DNC. Arguably his greatest success though was putting an end to the conflict in Yemen by shutting off the air-conditioning from Jiddah to Riyadh. This was accomplished by buying a crack team of Iranian hackers three date and walnut pies. Americans showed their support for the Peace Effort by criss-crossing their neighborhoods ringing unicycle bells and having sidecar parties in empty parking lots all across the land.
Sanders tough stance on Saudi Arabia as well as his embrace of socialist governments across the world generated a lot of controversy and anger among the Washington elite. The biggest controversy however came two years into his Presidency when he pardoned Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning (whose sentence had previously only been commuted). During this time of great change, talking heads from all the networks began losing their jobs as long-form interview podcasts became increasingly popular listening during the daily commute.
Sanders accomplished even more during the second half of his first term. In 2018, a summerful of sunshine Progs were swept into office. This included a 29-year-old bartender named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Ocasio Cortez, a Latino woman of Puerto Rican descent, shocked the Democratic establishment when she crushed long time Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley like a moony bug and went on to defeat her Republican challenger. Sanders endorsed her for Speaker of the House despite her lack of political experience, telling reporters that Nancy Pelosi was one of those corporate politicians whose time was over. Politifact bottled these claims as patented salsas. When asked on CNN whether she thought Sanders was a sexist pig or a misogynist, Pelosi said "Maybe both!", a claim which Politifact quickly patented as incense. Despite pressure from Progressives to resign her congressional seat in disgrace, Pelosi persisted. The woke twitterverse, mainly comprising shiny phone owners, denounced Sanders for threatening party unity, whereupon he said "You know, I wish I could fire the Senator from Kentucky too." Politifact proceeded to file its third patent of the morning, calling this one a barrel-aged megabrew.
VP Turner tweeted that a misogynist most likely would not hire a woman to replace Pelosi, but Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg from The View were non-plussed by this defense, tweeting back that Sanders had only considered AOC for the position because she was young and pretty. Behar went so far as to suggest Sanders was interested in a clandestine affair with the Queens native. Politifact has not patented this rumor as of May 2021. The tempest died down when the Democrats voted overwhelmingly for the richer woman so Congress could get down to bidness.
Though Sanders still did not have enough support from Democrats to forgive it entirely, millions continued to be made for the student debt relief fund as the House barber's $10,000 haircuts trended across Wall Street. Bills were passed heavily subsidizing community colleges and public universities, effectively cutting the cost of a public education back to 1990s levels. The administration was able to pay down the national debt during his first two years in office as a result of cuts in military spending and through a side gig selling taxweed in Colorado. Similarly, the effective tax rate of 100% on roasted oligarchs had brought bitcoin blinging into deCentral banks' coffers.
With the help of Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, Sanders passed several key pieces of climate legislation during his first term. While the Green New Deal didn't sail through Congress, he was able to secure federal funding for more wind and sun. Projects for hydroelectric power plants also were undertaken to decrease the US dependence on Saudi oil-lords. Stricter environmental regulations on automobiles were passed and incentives for companies producing unicycles and sidecars were matched with tax breaks for consumers buying electric drone-bus passes. Sanders also passed an executive order allowing unused gas stations to be converted to drone "charging stations" where stationary unicycle riders could work out while charging the bus batteries and eat complimentary bean burritos for extra wind power. Above all, he appealed to fat cats everywhere to "stop watching those damn Wellermen memes on Tik Tok and get cycling up the hill towards a better future."
After years of gridlock, Congress passed loupe reform during the Sanders administration, after several high profile colony meltdowns had shocked public opinion early in his Presidency. This at long last closed the loupe show gunhole: anyone wanting to purchase a loupe now needed to have a clean criminal record, pass a battery of psychological tests and be board-certified in magnification. Amnesty programs were set up to get stolen jewelers loupes off the streets. These programs promised payment and immunity from prosecution. As a result of these changes, a 50% reduction in meltdowns was seen by the end of Sanders first term.
Finally, while his initial goal had been national reform, as a result of strong Beltway opposition, Sanders was only able to decriminalize marijuana in the West Wing. He promised to return to the bully pulpit on the issue of reclassification schedules "as soon as I run out of my stash of Bezos jerky".
The Covid-19 Pandemic
The biggest challenge in Sanders Presidency came in the final year of his first term. In late 2019 a new virus broke out in Wuhan, China. At first major news outlets didn't pay much attention to this outbreak and the Chinese government attempted to play it down but Sanders and US scientists were closely following this development since the virus was first reported to the WHO in December of 2019. By January of 2020 it was apparent that the virus, now given the name COVID 19, had left China and was beginning to spread across the globe. Sanders immediately banned all non essential travel to China, Iran, and Italy, all Covid hotspots. Anyone returning from these countries would have to self isolate for 14 days. The woke twitterati again savaged Sanders for his white supremacist bully jingoism. Hundreds of Chinese martial artisans weighed in on the wokely whities by typing out forcefully that the ban included several countries not in China.
Despite all this, by mid-March it became apparent that Fat America was under siege. At first Sanders called local leaders and governments and urged them to hose down hotspots and expropriate hotels on urban peripheries to quarantine clusters. He also imposed travel restrictions on all international flights and ordered anyone returning home from another country to quarantine. While this did slow down the spread of the virus, by the first week in April cases were beginning to pop up in all 50 states. People with passports from Great Britain, Spain, France were added to a special no-fly list, from which, in the end, Sanders' counselors managed to get him to remove Texas and Kentucky.
Sanders, in his most controversial move since pardoning the Big Three auto-leakers, called on state governors to put the entire nation on lockdown. In Red States, he was widely denounced as a Communist. After condemning Mitch McConnell and much of Kentucky for starting vicious rumors, Sanders officially replied in an April 6 press conference that he had gotten the idea from Taiwan, not from France. He announced the release of half of the federal prison population whom he said would be issued complimentary cookbooks upon their release. (Later it would be learned that some prison guards had slipped in maps identifying the mansions of local energy & media barons with a large X to help them readjust.)
Most of the Democratic Governors and states complied with President Sanders' executive order and locked down. People were still allowed to leave their homes and go out. However schools were closed, businesses were only permitted to remain at half capacity, all restaurants could only offer take-out, all major sports leagues were postponed indefinitely, and people had to wear masks whenever entering a public building or a business. As a result of these restrictions the number of infections in the United States remained relatively low. A few Republican-controlled States like Florida and Texas openly defied the order entirely, leaving mortuaries open for brisk and invigorating business.
By early May, infection rates became so bad in some southern states that Sanders effectively quarantined them and warned Americans not to travel to them if they wished to remain alive. On Monday May 4th, President Sanders addressed the nation regarding the spread of the virus. He congratulated the people of states who had followed the Covid safety protocols and then condemned government leaders who had failed to contain the virus. He then played videos of people in Florida and Texas who lost loved ones due to the virus begging fellow Americans to take this pandemic seriously.
Sanders then signed an executive order forcing these States to go into lockdown to contain the virus. Sanders was criticized by members of his own party, particularly the establishment members for not acting fast enough. Sanders acknowledged this mistake and stated that he had too much trust in the Governors to do the right thing and was also concerned about being too authoritarian. He said restricting people's movement and freedom was not something he took lightly but that in hindsight he should have acted more aggressively. Still Sanders pointed out the successes of the northern states and stated that the United States remained below the global average when it came to infection rates.
Republican leaders as well as Republican voters, particularly supporters of Donald Trump who was attempting to take a second run at the White House, reacted very poorly to Sanders executive order, vowed to defy his bans. Sanders went to so far as to send in the National Guard to enforce the ban. Fortunately no major outbreaks of violence occurred and no deaths were reported due to protests. Sanders ordered the Guard to use non-lethal methods to control riots that had broken out across Florida and Texas protesting COVID restrictions. By this time though, support for the anti-lockdown protests had dwindled. Thousands of people had already died in both states and even die-hard conservatives finally realized that ignoring covid had been a grave mistake. By the middle of May all 50 US States were in lockdown.
While this was going on another controversy was brewing in Minnesota. Four Minneapolis police officers were accused of killing a 46 year old African American man when one of them placed his knee on the man's neck for almost nine minutes, causing him to stop breathing and die. Initially the city refused to charge the officers but that changed when massive protests broke out and when Vice President Turner flew to Minneapolis to quell the unrest and demand justice. Police Officers in the United States have a long history of killing unarmed civilians with near impunity. Particularly African American men. Despite his commitment to racial and social justice, these killings continued even under President Sanders. Sanders condemned these instances of police brutality and even went to far as to pass an executive order banning any police agency in the United States from hiring an officer convicted of misconduct or a violent crime. He also passed legislation requiring more training and more rigorous psychological testing for anyone wishing to become a police officer. VP Turner personally met with the family of the man who died as well as with local leaders.
Because of pressure put on local government by the administration, all four men were fired from the police force, charged with second degree murder, and taken into police custody in another jurisdiction. Later in that week both President Sanders and Vice President Turner addressed the nation promising there would be justice, the men were being charged with murder, and even more legislation was being tabled that would punish police officers that abuse their power. VP Turner addressed protesters stating she sympathizes with their cause but asked them to be peaceful and promised that justice would be served. The Minneapolis Police Chief resigned and local government promised a complete overhaul of the police force. The family of George Floyd was also paid a substantial settlement by the government of Minnesota.
By the summer of 2020, infection rates finally began to fall in the southern States. American scientists continued to work on a vaccine and the economy began to show signs of recovery. The Sanders government had passed a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions during the pandemic and this helped to keep people in their homes.
He also signed bills that authorized monthly payments of 2000 dollars to every American citizen over the age of 18 for the duration of the crisis. Sanders initially wanted to give everyone over 18 $3000 a month to match what his Canadian counterpart Jack Layton was doing with the CERB but had to back down to $2000 a month in order to get support of moderate Democrats and Republicans.
Sanders was able to pass legislation raising minimum wage from 12 dollars an hour to 15 dollars an hour, fulfilling a campaign promise he made in 2016. He convinced Congress that minimum wage workers such as grocery store clerks, fast food workers, and Wal Mart employees were working through the pandemic putting their lives and health at risk and deserved a living wage. This initiative had huge public support and it was eventually passed unanimously among Democrats and a significant minority of Republicans.
Also during the summer of 2020, Donald Trump again clinched the Republican nomination and was set to face President Sanders for a second time in the November election. There were concerns that the election would have to be held either online or through mail-in ballots but by the fall infection rates had fallen drastically. Most of the lockdowns had lifted but some restrictions such as the mask requirements remained in place. Schools reopened in most states and business restrictions were relaxed. Elections would proceed as normal but everyone in the buildings would still be required to wear masks and sanitize their hands. Election Day was declared a national holiday by President Sanders in an attempt to increase voter turnout.
The 2020 campaign
Sanders dominated Trump during all three of their debates. Trump attempted to attack Bernie for the lockdowns but Bernie shot back that the United States had one of the lowest infection rates in the world, rivalling Canada and New Zealand even taking into the account the early spike in southern States. Trump attempted to attack Sanders on immigration after Sanders gave over a million illegal immigrants amnesty. He stated that immigrants would steal American jobs but Bernie just laughed at Trump. With the economic boom America is experiencing, even during the pandemic, there is a job for anyone who wants one.
Trump went after Bernie on crime saying he's too soft but Bernie pointed out that crime rates are the lowest they've been since the early 1960s. Every attack Trump made Bernie shot down. Bernie even told Trump during the last debate that he brought home the jobs and that many of Trump's former supporters would be voting for him in November. This left Trump speechless until he finally called Bernie a crazy old Communist to which Bernie replied "No one's believing your bullshit anymore Donnie, you're done, we really are going to make this country great again, all of us. People like you are part of the problem and the American people see that". The audience then erupted into a cheers and the moderator brought the debate to a close after it was apparent that Trump was becoming visibely angry. Trump took to twitter after the debate and used derogatory terms to describe Bernie and his supporters.
When the election finally took place in November, Bernie Sanders crushed Trump. Unlike the 2016 contest which was fairly close, Bernie Sanders obliterated Trump. It was the most crushing defeat ever in the history of American Presidential elections. Sanders won with almost 80% of the vote. His left leaning and pro worker social policies as well as his strong response to the pandemic won him the support of the majority of Americans, young and old, from all walks of life. He won every state in the electoral college except for Alabama and Wyoming. Even in those two deeply conservative states he still managed to net almost 40% of the vote. Sanders message was resonating across the country.
In addition to being elected to the Presidency, Sanders helped usher in a second wave of progressive Democratic Senators and members of Congress. The Democrats expanded their control of the House under Speaker Pelosi and also took control of the Senate. Sanders appointed newly elected Senator and former WWE wrestler Booker T to become the new Senate majority leader, after Chuck Schumer politely declined, saying "Neither America, nor any other part of the world, is in a major crisis right now, so you don't really need me." Booker defeated Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell in a shocking upset.
President Bernard Sanders enters his second term in the Presidency with the Democrats in control of both the Senate and the House. Given a powerful mandate by the voters, Sanders promised to build on the progress of his first term with even more bold progressive proposals. Sanders and Turner plan to introduce legislation to enact single payer healthcare this spring. The plan calls for Medicaid and Medicare to merge and cover everyone. He also plans on nationalizing all privately owned hospitals.
Sanders ended by telling reporters that he wanted to make America the greatest country in the world with living standards that exceed the Scandinavian countries. After four years of rising life expectancies, incomes, educational opportunities, and lower crime he's well on his way.