Bernie Sanders’ Vermont Senate seat has been virtually unchallenged since 2006. In the 2018 election, however, he’ll face a political outsider who blames him for “destroying the Democratic Party” and for leading to the election of Donald Trump.
Jon Svitavsky is a homelessness advocate and has never held public office. In an interview with The Daily Caller, he expressed disappointment with Sanders’ legislative progress.
“Sanders has almost no accomplishments in 30 years,” Svitavsky said. “He has sponsored three bills [that have become law] in 27 years, two of which were to rename Vermont Post Offices.”
In a brief telephone interview, Svitavsky called the Vermont junior senator a “one percenter” and a “hypocrite” who was able to split the Democratic Party and give Trump an opportunity to capitalize on his fractured opponents. Sanders is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats and who ran as a Democrat in 2016.
“Bernie is destroying the Democratic Party,” Svitavsky said. “He equates the Democrats and Republicans, and I completely disagree with that.”
“There is a major difference between how Sanders is viewed by the ‘electorate,’ and by people who have worked with him. It is no wonder he had no endorsements, even Vermont’s leaders backed Clinton.”
Furthermore, Svitavsky warned that Sanders’ divisive rhetoric is bad for the country. He stated that most Sanders supporters are “political neophytes,” prone to anger and violence in the face of dissenting viewpoints. He stated that Sanders does not disavow their hostility, though the senator has, in fact, repudiated.
“When a good man stays silent when things are wrong, he becomes complicit. Sanders was all right with violence and unfair attacks against Hillary,” Svitavsky preached. He maintained that if any of his supporters display similar behavior, they would be rebuked immediately.
Svitavsky labels himself a liberal Democrat, but highlighted the importance of bipartisanship. Though he expressed disdain for the current state of the Republican Party, he believes he can cooperate with those on the other side to pass meaningful legislation.
“GOP policies in ’60s and ’70s expressed a lot of compassion, notably in preserving environment and tax code for the wealthy,” he said. “I’m not a knee-jerk ideologist, and look at each issue individually.”
A topic he speaks with noticeable passion is advocating for the homeless. Svitavsky founded the Burlington Emergency Shelter, an organization that he directed for 12 years. The shelter raised $2 million from more than 20,000 individual donors. The BES boasts that it has helped 80 percent of its inhabitants get back on their feet in around three weeks.
Finally, Svitavsky commented on the ongoing FBI investigation into Jane Sanders’ Burlington College loan scandal. Sanders has dismissed the allegations on the basis that they came from a “Trump operative.”
“The question is whether the Burlington scandal has validity to it. It doesn’t matter if it was brought up by a Republican. It matters if it’s true or not.”
A campaign spokesman for Sanders did not respond to requests for comment.
The election is scheduled for Nov. 6, 2018.