Hedges Misstatement: Open Letter to Truthdig Editor Robert Scheer

Dear Mr. Scheer,

Chris Hedges’s Truthdig column contains the  claim that
“(Bernie) Sanders, as part of (a) Faustian deal, serves (as) one of the main impediments to building a viable third party in Vermont.” To assess its factual basis, I would respectfully direct your attention to the following email correspondence with  Vermont Progressive Party head, Vermont State Senator Anthony Polinna,

On Sep 25, 2015, at 12:09 PM, John Halle  wrote:

Dear Senator Pollina,

For an upcoming piece, I’m contacting you in reference to the following statement made by journalist Chris Hedges:

“(Bernie Sanders) has been the main obstacle to creating a third party within Vermont.”

(see here: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=14779 and herehttp://www.truthdig.com/report/page3/what_it_means_to_be_a_socialist_20150920)

As the highest ranking official within the VPP, your opinion as to the accuracy of this statement should carry considerable weight.

It would be useful to have on record whether you believe it is or is not correct and a brief explanation for your assessment.

Thanks for your excellent and inspiring work over the years.

Sincerely,
John Halle

On Oct 2, 2015, at 1:35 PM, Anthony Pollina  wrote:

John,

We can talk if you would like. But, here is the basic response.

The statement that Bernie Sanders is a major barrier to creating a third-party in Vermont makes no sense because it ignores one fundamental fact.

The fact is the Vermont Progressive Party is the strongest, most successful third-party anywhere in the United States. For years we have elected Progressives to the state legislature, both Senate and House (where there is an officially recognized Progressive Caucus), to the Burlington City Council and various school boards.

There’s no doubt that our efforts have been helped by Bernie’s leadership; his ability to frame the issues and inspire others to run for office. Bernie has endorsed Progressive candidates and appeared with them at campaign events.

There are certainly challenges to building a third-party. But we have been successful. I don’t think it would’ve happened in Vermont if not for Bernie Sanders.

The better question may be; what are the barriers to building third parties in all the other states, that have not been successful.

Anthony Pollina
Vermont Senate
Washington County

As you will note, Pollina uncategorically denies Hedges’s assertion. Furthermore, were you, your staff or Hedges to investigate the matter further, there is little doubt that you would find his conclusions consistent with those of other progressives in Vermont-both those in and outside of the VPP.

Given this fact, I would respectfully request that you issue an immediate correction and retraction of Hedges text.

Finally, I should mention that as a former third party official myself, this is an issue which I regard as central to development of the left one which I have been writing about for more than fifteen years.  If you are interested in advancing the discussion I would recommend attention to the recently released Empowering Third Parties in the United States, which contains an excellent history of the VPP and Sanders’s relationship to it by long time Vermont activist, former Burlington City Council member Terry Boricius.  (I am also a contributor.)

The text represents a serious, fact based contribution to the discussion. It is regrettable that Hedges has chosen to weigh in by circulating a transparent and easily refuted falsehood.

Sincerely,

John Halle

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