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Bernie Sanders’ accomplishments

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This list of Bernie Sanders’ accomplishments is for those who think Bernie Sanders has achieved “nothing” in his time in office, or think he’s an uncompromising leftist ideologue who doesn’t know how to “get things done,” or who think he couldn’t possibly achieve anything as president. These ideas are floating around Facebook, so I think it’s time to have a look at Bernie’s actual record.

Over the past 50 years, Bernie has had a distinguished career as a social justice activist and an elected official. He’s been a mayor, a congressman and a senator. But I want to add a few accomplishments that don’t appear on his website. I want to acknowledge that he has had the courage to:

  • run for president without taking Wall Street or corporate money,
  • run for president against the formidable Clinton machine
  • run as a Democrat without backing or support from the Democratic Party,
  • run in the context of blatant corporate media bias for Hillary and against him

That’s a lot of courage, and I think he needs to be commended for it. Indeed, Bernie is a rare bird. His life has been honed by decades of hard work as a  public servant on behalf of poor and middle class Americans. He has had the integrity to live his life according to his progressive values. Is Bernie perfect? No. But he has never shilled for banks and corporations, and that’s a big accomplishment in Washington DC.

You will never hear Bernie spouting focus-group talking points, or shifting his message daily to see what sticks to the wall, or reading prepared speeches off a teleprompter. Bernie doesn’t have to use a teleprompter. He’s been talking about income inequality and social justice for fifty years, and his message hasn’t wavered. He understands, on a deep level, the struggles of the poor and the middle class and the origins of injustice and inequality. His wisdom and authenticity is resonating among voters who have lost confidence in the political process.

Some of Bernie’s accomplishments listed below are his votes against war. Why are votes an accomplishment? He was correct in his predictions that they would lead to disaster. These votes underscore his wisdom and judgment, qualities I want in a president. Through deal making and compromise with Democrats and Republicans, Bernie has amassed a solid record on behalf of the Black, Latino, women, LGBT and elderly communities, on behalf of veterans, and on behalf of lower and middle income individuals and families. He has consistently given voice to those with less power. He will continue to do that as president.

Bernie’s North Star has always been the poor and middle classes. No surprise, he has the highest approval rating of any U.S. senator—an astonishing 83% of Vermonters trust Bernie to represent their interests. Instead of lowering expectations of what’s possible, Bernie continues to offer a bold and humane vision of what this country can be.

Bernie’s accomplishments

  • Elected by the state of Vermont 8 times to serve in the House of Representatives.
  • The longest-serving independent in U.S. congressional history.
  • He was dubbed the “amendment king” in the House of Representatives for passing more amendments than any other member of Congress.
  • Ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee.
  • Former student organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
  • Led the first ever civil rights sit-in in Chicago history to protest segregated housing.
  • In 1963, Bernie Sanders participated in MLK’s Civil Rights March. One of only 2 sitting US Senators to have heard MLK’s “I have a Dream Speech” in person in the march on Washington, DC.
  • Former professor of political science at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and at Hamilton College.
  • Former mayor of Burlington, VT. In a stunning upset in 1981, Sanders won the mayoral race in Burlington, Vermont’s largest city. He shocked the city’s political establishment by defeating a six-term, local machine mayor. Burlington is now reported to be one of the most livable cities in the nation.
  • Co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus and chaired the group for its first 8 years.
  • Both the NAACP and the NHLA (National Hispanic Leadership Agenda) have given Sanders 100% voting scores during his tenure in the Senate. Earns a D- from the NRA.
  • 1984: Mayor Sanders established the Burlington Community Land Trust, the first municipal housing land-trust in the country for affordable housing. The project becomes a model emulated throughout the world. It later wins an award from Jack Kemp-led HUD.
  • 1991: one of a handful in Congress to vote against authorizing US military force in Iraq. “I have a real fear that the region is not going to be more peaceful or more stable after the war,” he said at the time.
  • 1992: Congress passes Sanders’ first signed piece of legislation to create the National Program of Cancer Registries. A Reader’s Digest article calls the law “the cancer weapon America needs most.” All 50 states now run registries to help cancer researchers gain important insights.
  • November 1993: Sanders votes against the Clinton-era North American Free Trade Agreement. Returning from a tour of factories in Mexico, Sanders says: “If NAFTA passes, corporate profits will soar because it will be even easier than now for American companies to flee to Mexico and hire workers there for starvation wages.”
  • July 1996: Sanders is one of only 67 (out of 435, 15%) votes against the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples legally married. Sanders urged the Supreme Court to throw out the law, which it did in a landmark 2013 ruling – some 17 years later.
  • July 1999: Standing up against the major pharmaceutical companies, Sanders becomes the first member of Congress to personally take seniors across the border to Canada to buy lower-cost prescription drugs. The congressman continues his bus trips to Canada with a group of breast cancer patients the following April. These brave women are able to purchase their medications in Canada for almost one-tenth the price charged in the States.
  • August 1999: An overflow crowd of Vermonters packs a St. Michael’s College town hall meeting hosted by Sanders to protest an IBM plan to cut older workers’ pensions by as much as 50 percent. CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and The New York Times cover the event. After IBM enacts the plan, Sanders works to reverse the cuts, passing a pair of amendments to prohibit the federal government from acting to overturn a federal district court decision that ruled that IBM’s plan violated pension age discrimination laws. Thanks to Sanders’ efforts, IBM agreed to a $320 million legal settlement with some 130,000 IBM workers and retirees.
  • November 1999: About 10 years before the 2008 Wall Street crash spins the world economy into a massive recession, Sanders votes “no” on a bill to undo decades of financial regulations enacted after the Great Depression. “This legislation,” he predicts at the time, “will lead to fewer banks and financial service providers, increased charges and fees for individual consumers and small businesses, diminished credit for rural America and taxpayer exposure to potential losses should a financial conglomerate fail. It will lead to more mega-mergers, a small number of corporations dominating the financial service industry and further concentration of power in our country.” The House passed the bill 362-57 over Sanders’ objection.
  • October 2001: Sanders votes against the USA Patriot Act. “All of us want to protect the American people from terrorist attacks, but in a way that does not undermine basic freedoms,” Sanders says at the time. He subsequently votes against reauthorizing the law in 2006 and 2011.
  • October 2002: Sanders votes against the Bush-Cheney war in Iraq. He warns at the time that an invasion could “result in anti-Americanism, instability and more terrorism.” Hillary Clinton votes in favor of it.
  • November 2006: Sanders defeats Vermont’s richest man, Rich Tarrant, to be elected to the U.S. Senate. Sanders, running as an Independent, is endorsed by the Vermont Democratic Party and supported by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
  • December 2007: Sanders’ authored energy efficiency and conservation grant program passes into law. He later secures $3.2 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for the grant program.
  • September 2008: Thanks to Sanders’ efforts, funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program funding doubles, helping millions of low-income Americans heat their homes in winter.
  • February 2009: Sanders works with Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley to pass an amendment to an economic recovery bill preventing Wall Street banks that take taxpayer bailouts from replacing laid-off U.S. workers with exploited and poorly-paid foreign workers.
  • December 2009: Sanders passes language in the Affordable Care Act to allow states to apply for waivers to implement pilot health care systems by 2017. The legislation allows states to adopt more comprehensive systems to cover more people at lower costs.
  • March 2010: President Barack Obama signs into law the Affordable Care Act with a major Sanders provision to expand federally qualified community health centers. Sanders secures $12.5 billion in funding for the program which now serves more than 25 million Americans. Another $1.5 billion from a Sanders provision went to the National Health Service Corps for scholarships and loan repayment for doctors and nurses who practice in under-served communities.
  • July 2010: Sanders works with Republican Congressman Ron Paul in the House to pass a measure as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill to audit the Federal Reserve, revealing how the independent agency gave $16 trillion in near zero-interest loans to big banks and businesses after the 2008 economic collapse.
  • March 2013: Sanders, now chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and backed by seniors, women, veterans, labor unions and disabled Americans, leads a successful effort to stop a “chained-CPI” proposal supported by Congressional Republicans and the Administration to cut Social Security and disabled veterans’ benefits.
  • April 2013: Sanders introduces legislation to break up major Wall Street banks so large that the collapse of one could send the overall economy into a downward spiral.
  • August 2014: A bipartisan $16.5 billion veterans bill written by Sen. Sanders, Sen. John McCain and Rep. Jeff Miller is signed into law by President Barack Obama. The measure includes $5 billion for the VA to hire more doctors and health professionals to meet growing demand for care.
  • January 2015: Sanders takes over as ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, using the platform to fight for his economic agenda for the American middle class.
  • January 2015: Sanders votes against the Keystone XL pipeline, which would allow multinational corporation TransCanada to transport dirty tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
  • March 2015: Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced legislation to expand benefits and strengthen the retirement program for generations to come. The Social Security Expansion Act was filed on the same day Sanders and other senators received the petitions signed by 2 million Americans, gathered by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.
  • September 2015: Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) today introduced bills to ban private prisons, reinstate the federal parole system and eliminate quotas for the number of immigrants held in detention.
  • January 2016: Sanders Places Hold on FDA Nominee Dr. Robert Califf because of his close ties to the pharmaceutical industry and lack of commitment to lowering drug prices. There is no reason to believe that he would make the FDA work for ordinary Americans, rather than just the CEOs of pharmaceutical companies.

Madonna Gauding (278 Posts)

Madonna Gauding is a freelance writer, illustrator and book designer living in St. Louis. MO. She is the author of 10 books on a variety of "mind, body, spirit" topics.


  • @hidefind

    Really appreciate the article. Required reading for the “Bernie Sanders can’t get things done” crowd.

  • Trespassers Will Hopknz

    I challenge anything that doesn’t have positive results as an accomplishment. Attempts are not accomplishments.

  • syracuseny

    How funny. You people think that because he voted for and against stuff and signed stuff, that he accomplished something. He has done virtually nothing but blowhard the last few decades while on the public dole.

  • syracuseny

    Bingo!

  • syracuseny

    Uh, what did he get done? NOTHING! Read it again, dear.

  • 2987t529489

    The problem is that many Regressive-pretend-Progressive Democrats now regret many of the things they voted for, that Bernie warned about ahead of time. His accomplishments also consist of being correct, way ahead of time.

  • 2987t529489

    Many of the Regressive-pretend-Progressive regrets would be his accomplishments, if Democrats had listened to him, ahead of time.

  • 2987t529489

    The problem with Regressive-pretend-Progressives is that they ought to listen to him, ahead of time. This would mean far fewer regrets. Regressives are morons.

  • wow — that’s a lot of votezzz

  • Marcus Maxon

    Burnie was basically unheard of a year ago, so no one really knew or cared what he voted for or against. He needs to leave his “accomplishments” out of this.

  • Marcus Maxon

    Good no one listened to him. Just look at the ‘tards following him around now.

  • Marcus Maxon

    He had and has nothing to add…you’ll regret him later

  • visitor

    Anything he was blocked from doing was done so by tools like yourself. Think about it, or don’t (I know you won’t.)

  • Chip Casey

    Most of what is listed are not accomplishments but positions/appointments. There are VERY FEW accomplishments. Being the Ammendment king is not one of them. Maybe if you could point to some of the ammendments that passed we could tell if that was an accomplishment or maybe it was just pork.

  • Matt Lafflin

    Um, you didn;t know who he was, but people who follow politics certainly have known him for over a decade.

  • Marcus Maxon

    To people that matter he’s a nobody that no one had heard of or cared about. Ask most people even now and they still don’t know or care who he is

  • maxovrdriv

    wow when you look at what he has done in the last 100 years in the senate how pathetic. He passed an energy efficiency bond bill ( the govt is going to spend more money on green crap), passed extensions for obama care (knowing they had to put off until after the ’16 elections or the house would crumble because of how bad it is and to keep it from the public) and strengthened didd-frank, which nearly everyone agrees needs to be overturned. Tried to break up banks, killed 30000 jobs by voting against keystone, and moved to expand social security, without trying to fix it, guessing so it can go BK faster? this guy is a joke if anyone looks at his record.

  • DWinch

    Did he ever actually have a job other than a professional politician?
    Didn’t think so.

  • USborn

    Not seeing many accomplishments there. Sorry. For all those years of service? All you have is a stance on one thing or another? Go ask Mr. Communist how well the Venezuelan socialist government is working out. The same government that he backed. I hear you can get a cheeseburger there for 170$.

  • msmaddog

    The population of Vermont is a little over 550,000! State is 75% woods, of course he can give freebies away….try that in California when you are dealing with multiple millions of people…..with a budget (their word, not mine) $69,000,000,000. (that’s Billion’s) spent on welfare. We have over 109,000,000 on welfare, yet 75% of those people would be considered Middle Class in other states. We have 12% of the population and 33% of the welfare recipients. We have 2.4 Illegals in Calif., 814,000 live in Los Angeles. Of the California drivers licenses issued last year (HALF) 1/2 went to Illegals, and no insurance required. So whats Bernie gonna do , huh, give more?….I don’t have more to give.

  • Jeremiah Dubord

    accomplishment : an act or instance of carrying into effect; fulfillment
    Most of the things in that list do not fit the definition of an accomplishment.
    Sorry Bernie, voting against something is not an accomplishment. Holding a political position for a long time simply because there was no one else is not an accomplishment.

  • CBunny

    Yez! Hes great and has always been.

    Go look at hillarys ‘accomplishements’. What a joke!! She got a few parks renamed. And a handful of other fluff pieces….. lol!! Her supporters are either paid or complete tools that refuse to actually google her. Smh.

  • CBunny

    Lol! Look at the tards that refuse to google Hillary and trumps histories! Those are complete morons!

  • Jay Silversmith

    It is precisely because of entitled people like the Repukes, Clintons and Trumps that block any movement forward unless it lines their pockets, that nothing gets done. Corporate greed and corruption is the mechanism of control to divide the nation. Our two-party system codifies it from both sides. Bernie is pointing it out and it’s pissing them off.

  • Multnomah

    I agree this was a very interesting article about Bernie and he’s worked hard and achieved success in many areas. I’d like to see a side by side article about what Hillary has gotten done over 30 years of service for poeple. I worry about politicians that use terminology about government being ‘rigged’ when things don’t go their way. I also worry about promises made that no President that is elected could accomplish by themselves. The Brits bought into anti-government due to fear, xenophobia and economic problems. What these revolutionary Brits will find is that leaving the EU will make getting ahead for the average working guy even more difficult over the next 10 years. So be careful of any politicians that promise you things and feed into anti-government rhetoric, fear and hate of others following them is often a dead end for the average person.

  • RayMarotta

    Looks to me like his major accomplishments are being re elected. ABSOLUTELY nothing of real use to the country.

  • palmtreegreen

    what if I laughed in your face. Do you always go with the crowd?

  • Solid Snake

    lol I wouldn’t consider any of those real accomplishments

  • Trespassers Will Hopknz

    November 1993: Sanders votes against the Clinton-era North American Free Trade Agreement

    November 1993, George H.W. Bush was President

    ’nuff said

  • DELL HEWEY

    Senator Sanders was never really vetted or attacked by the GOP when he ran in the primary. But they had all of this information about him, I am sure, if he happened to win it. About Senator Bernie Sanders:

    1 He has represented Vermont in Congress for 25 years. Vermont has the same population as Memphis, Tennessee and is ranked 50th economically.

    2 He caused staff members of OUR REVOLUTION to resign after the appointment of Jeff Weaver, Mr. Sanders’s former campaign manager, to lead the organization. They were alarmed that Weaver would mismanage this organization as he mismanaged the campaign

    3 He has NO experience dealing with foreign countries. And he said Hillary Clinton is not fit to be president. In 2008 he said she would make a great president.

    4 From Jan 2007 to Jul 2016, Sanders missed 208 of 2,969 roll call votes, which is 7.0%. This is much worse than the median of 1.7% among the lifetime records of senators currently serving.

    5 BERNIE’S BILLS:

    Bernie has submitted 86 health related bills. All were referred to committee. ONE was reported out of committee.

    Bernie has submitted 28 tax related bills. All were referred to committee. NONE were reported out of committee

    Bernie has submitted 74 labor and employment related bills. All were referred to committee. NONE were reported out of committee.

    Bernie has submitted 64 armed forces and national security related bills. 55 were referred to committee. 8 were reported by committee. ONE was enacted and signed by the President. The third of three bills in his whole 25 year career. The other two concerned the re-naming of post offices.

    The people who are close to his political philosophy in Congress endorsed Clinton for President.

    6 He says he is the only one who can work across the aisle.

    Georgetown University’s School of Public Policy published their 2015 Bipartisan Index, which measures how often each member of Congress co-sponsored a bill introduced by someone from their opposing party or attracted co-sponsors for their own bills from the opposite party. By this standard, in 2015, Bernie Sanders ranked as the most uncooperative person on the Senate side, and Ted Cruz ranked as the second-most uncooperative.

    Looking at lifetime scores rather than just the 2015 data, Sanders and Cruz are not at the very bottom of the Senate list, but they still rank quite low for being cooperative. They do not work well with others.

    7 His tenure as chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee was characterized by glaring neglect of his oversight responsibilities. Veteran’s died.

    He offered as close to an apology as he could when pressed on why he — as the former chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in 2014– waited so long to act on the burgeoning wait list scandal at the VA.

    (And he now posts glittering generalities about how it is our duty to help the veterans.)

    8 He gave his support for one of the biggest boondoggles in U.S. military history— the F-35 fighter jet. He was asked “You work on limiting the influence of money in politics, yet at the same time you continue to support wasteful contracts from companies such as Lockheed Martin with the F-35 for instance. He answered “What are my options as a Senator? …if I said no to the F-35 coming to Burlington, for Vermont National Guard where would it go?… South Carolina?”

    (But he decries the Military Industrial Complex.)

    9 He voted for the Commodity Futures Modernization Act in 2000, which eased regulations on Wall Street, thus paving the way for the credit default swaps that sank the economy in the Great Recession. (Huffington Post)

    10 He voted to send Vermont’s and Maine’s nuclear waste to a poor Latino town—Sierra Blanka,Texas.

    11 In 2006 he voted in the House with hard-line Republicans for indefinite detention for undocumented immigrants, and then he sided with those Republicans to stand with vigilantes known as Minutemen who were taking up outposts along the Mexican border to hunt down immigrants. (Politifact rates this Mostly True)

    12 He says he supports gun control. But he voted with the NRA on important gun legislation and stopped gun legislation against guns in the Senate. The legislation concerned preventing manufacturers from making guns like the AK47 and selling them to the public. Bernie voted NO on the Brady Bill 5 times. Voted NO to gun purchase waiting period 3 times (Congressional Record) And the NRA tweeted praise for him after he backed gunmakers’ immunity from certain types of lawsuits during a Democratic presidential debate.

    13 He refused to oppose the Afghan War. Voted YES to GW Bush’s plan to expand wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 1998, voted YES to send US troops to bomb Yugoslavia, then had Vermont police arrest Anti-war protesters in his office for trespass (from the Burlington Free Press)

    14 His health plan was to get rid of Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. (Check his 2016 healthcare plan taken from his 2013 bill titled S.1782 – American Health Security Act of 2013).

    15 He Is associated with an anti-union company, American Crystal Sugar, that was his top donor in his 2012 re-election campaign. The firm engages in union-busting worker lockouts.

    16 He and his Bernie or Bust Bros swore they hated the Super Delegates and said they were un-democratic, but then begged them to vote for Bernie.

    17 He refused to help down-vote Democrats running for office during the primary (except for a chosen few). They are the ones who could make it to Congress and turn it BLUE.

    18 He attacked Hillary Clinton for supporting the 1994 crime bill that her husband signed. His attacks omitted that he himself voted for that bill.

  • James Ryan

    For one, courage is not what I would call it when he sold out to Hill-Billy. If he had courage he would have fought the rigged Election that was against him, not cower down, to be told your going to accept it, like he did. You can tell he was mad as hell, but did NOTHING!!!! I bet he was threatened, either by Blackmail, or by Threat of violence. Either way, he is a coward for doing so. He knew that Democrats rigged for Hillary to beat him, or he would have one. So backing down after millions and millions of dollars were pumped through his campaign to elect him. If he was any kind of ‘Courageous man, he would have fought, for those who paid his way into the shit show we call Elections, and for his supporters. Hell Hillary had very few campaign stops. It was Bernie, and Trump who did ALL of the traveling. Bernie was packing places like Trump was. Hill-Billy could barley get 500 people. All of her support came from the Rich, who could go to her $5000.00 a plate human sacrifice dinners, and spirit cooking events for the Elite.

    Courage is a soldier who is being fired at through out their tour of duty, and they do it day by day, that is courage. Courage is also a good non corrupt police officer who swore an oath to uphold the constitution, and go out everyday to serve and protect, knowing that there are bad people who are out to kill COPs for doing their job!!!! This is courage, and everyday the firefighters and medics, and law enforcement put their own life on the line to save yours!!!!

    Now this is just my opinion, but politicians are not courageous, they are scammers, they are thief’s, they are murderer’s, rapists, and at the end of the day there are few who would give up their cozy lifestyle, or their house in the Hampton’s, if it were to save a man from freezing to death, because he is a veteran who came back to a ungrateful bunch of backstabbing cowards, snot nosed little brats born with a silver spoon, and never had to do with out. Politicians only want to hold us down, and control us, if you do not see that then open your eyes before you get ran over!!! HA, Politicians only have courage when they are a whistle blower who is taking down the pedophile/human trafficking ring with in our government that has been operating for decades at the highest levels. There are few and far between who put their life on the line to do what most people would consider to be the ‘Right Thing to Do’, and do with out thinking.

  • Avyn Trahelion

    He was a carpenter previous to his political activities.

  • Randy

    This has to be the most laughable attempt to promote the career and accomplishments of someone in the public arena as has ever been written or spoken. Especially in the context of being a Presidential candidate.
    This is a “what I like about the guy and what you might like also list.” Nothing with virtually any substantive accomplishments listed.
    This is an embarrassing example of amateur journalistic writing.

  • ReaderV

    Its vital to understand the surrounding events concerning several of these events listed and to read and listen to the voices involved in these situations. Not every point is really as clear as how they are written here. As for Hillary, there’s a signifigant difference between false planted stories and her long history of actual progressive work for familys, children, schools, healthcare and women around the world. Either way, we need effective new canadates to unite around. Those with postive work behind them and a full understanding of how government actually works will be a plus. If there is anything that can unite us all, its the horror of another republican in the white house. We must get beyond November 2016 and unite. If we don’t, what happens next is our own fault.

  • thunderstrike

    OMG! Did you came up with these points or did you copy from somewhere else without doing any research? This is full of misrepresentation, half-false, misleading points. There’s a deliberate exclusion of facts, incomplete assertions in this comment. Full of cherry picking to discredit the person. I hope you didn’t do that on purpose. Because this is something a vile person would do. I assume you just copied this from somewhere else without doing any research.

  • DELL HEWEY

    If you want to check every one of the items on the list please look at info on Vermont, Bernie’s voting record (on the Internet), the new Justice Democrat’s Facebook page listing all the things Bernie and The Young Turks plan to do as a new party, Bernie’s health plan that I gave the address for in order to read it, Bernie’s attendance record in Congress, all of Bernie’s bills easily accessed on the Internet, the name of the university whose research found how uncooperative Bernie really is, His apology for being so ineffective in is job as Chair of the Vet Affairs Committee, all the info on the F-35 disaster that is on the Internet plus its exorbitant cost, his vote on the nuclear waste debacle that is documented in his vote FOR it and all his PRO-gun votes. Check his latest travesty of turning anti-choice and pro-Libertarian.
    I did all of this research myself–something the Bernie Bros never did. They were and still are busy trashing the Democratic Party. The GOP loves them.