August 20, 1998 – Bernie Sanders, the Independent Socialist from Vermont, is in the midst of his re-election campaign to the U.S. House. At the same time, plans are underway to ship loads of nuclear waste out of his state across country to Sierra Blanca, a small outpost in West Texas.
A group of West Texans have joined forces with environmentally sensitive Vermonters, boosted by the American Friends Service Committee and the Unitarian Church. Their goal is to march to a rally at the VT capital where Sanders is scheduled to speak. They hope to appeal to Sanders. Will he stall or stop the waste relocation plan? They have been forewarned though. His campaign people tell them that Sanders is not to be sullied by this issue.
Sanders takes the stage at Montpelier. He launches into his familiar campaign stump speech. There is no mention of Sierra Blanca or nuclear waste. Exasperated, the West Texans, who’ve traveled 2,000 miles for the rally, yell out their questions.
What about my home, Bernie? What about Sierra Blanca? – Maria Mendez
Sanders does not respond. He walks off the stage.
The abrupt departure of Sanders, and his refusal to acknowledge the planned nuclear waste disposal at Sierra Blanca was no surprise. Earlier, Sanders had met briefly with the contingent. He gave them little hope.
My position is unchanged, and you’re not gonna like it. – Bernie Sanders
In shutting out the concerned activists from Sierra Blanca, Sanders proved beyond a doubt that his political ambitions outweighed moral concerns. He refused to even visit Sierra Blanca. Why?
I’m gonna be running for re-election in the state of Vermont. – Bernie Sanders
He won that election.
Bernie Sanders is running for a much bigger position now. We are right to wonder what other ethical issues will he jettison to win the nomination?