Despite a prestigious degree, however, Sanders failed to earn a living, even as an adult. It took him 40 years to collect his first steady paycheck -- and it was a government check.This echoes a couple of articles that ran at FrontPage Magazine in the fall --"Bernie Sanders Lived Off Unemployment, Couldn't Get a Non-Government Job" and "Bernie Sanders Spends $2 Mil on Ad to Tell Americans He Never Worked for a Living." (That's not what the ad in question says, but never mind.) A lot of this is based on a Politico profile of Sanders that ran last summer (which, incidentally, mentioned other jobs Sanders held, as a teacher, psychiatric aide, and researcher for the Vermont Department of Taxes).
“I never had any money my entire life,” Sanders told Vermont public TV in 1985, after settling into his first real job as mayor of Burlington.
Sanders spent most of his life as an angry radical and agitator who never accomplished much of anything. And yet now he thinks he deserves the power to run your life and your finances -- “We will raise taxes;” he confirmed Monday, “yes, we will.”
One of his first jobs was registering people for food stamps, and it was all downhill from there.
Sanders took his first bride to live in a maple sugar shack with a dirt floor, and she soon left him. Penniless, he went on unemployment. Then he had a child out of wedlock. Desperate, he tried carpentry but could barely sink a nail. “He was a shi**y carpenter,” a friend told Politico Magazine. “His carpentry was not going to support him, and didn’t.”
Then he tried his hand freelancing for leftist rags, writing about “masturbation and rape” and other crudities for $50 a story. He drove around in a rusted-out, Bondo-covered VW bug with no working windshield wipers. Friends said he was “always poor” and his “electricity was turned off a lot.” They described him as a slob who kept a messy apartment — and this is what his friends had to say about him.
The only thing he was good at was talking ... non-stop ... about socialism and how the rich were ripping everybody off. “The whole quality of life in America is based on greed,” the bitter layabout said. “I believe in the redistribution of wealth in this nation.”
... He finally wormed his way into the Senate in 2006, where he still ranks as one of the poorest members of Congress. Save for a municipal pension, Sanders lists no assets in his name. All the assets provided in his financial disclosure form are his second wife’s. He does, however, have as much as $65,000 in credit-card debt.
... His worthless background contrasts sharply with the successful careers of other “outsiders” in the race for the White House, including a billionaire developer, a world-renowned neurosurgeon and a Fortune 500 CEO.
The choice in this election is shaping up to be a very clear one. It will likely boil down to a battle between those who create and produce wealth, and those who take it and redistribute it.
Could this line of attack work? I think it might fall flat. Obviously, the use of the phrase "community organizer" to refer to Barack Obama makes right-wingers' blood race, but it didn't defeat him in 2008 or 2012. The IBD editorial says that Sanders still has credit card debt -- but would voters care about that? Marco Rubio has also been attacked for mismanagement of his personal finances and, while he's not exactly killing it in the polls, he's still the strongest Republican candidate not named Trump or Cruz, and if he's not doing better, it's because he's an underwhelming candidate overall, not because voters think he's a deadbeat. Rivals are launching a lot more attacks on Rubio's Senate attendance record than on this.
I have to wonder Sanders's early life will actually be relatable to a lot of people. Yes, maybe the Sanders financial struggles were a matter of choice, but I'm not sure that distinction will register with Americans who themselves are trying to cobble together enough income to live. Economic forces are the major reason so many Americans are struggling, but a lot of people do make less-than-pragmatic choices along the way that they might think are a big reason they're not better off. They might think Sanders's life isn't all that different from their own.
Struggling Americans might, unfortunately, respond better to Donald Trump, the late-night get-rich-quick infomercial pitchman of politics, the guy who promises that your life can be as sweet as his. But I don't think they'll hold Bernie's career meanderings against him.