Barney Frank: 'Lack of Information' Driving Support for Bernie Sanders

April 4, 2016

Hillary Clinton supporter and former Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.) said Monday that a "lack of information" was to blame for the greater enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) in the Democratic primary race.

MSNBC host José Díaz-Balart quoted Sanders' Slate interview where he assailed Sanders for a lack of accomplishments in Congress and said he was "disappointed" with voters expressing anger with their choice.

"The fact is that failure to vote really does cause a series of problems for a democracy," Díaz-Balart said. "There's no question about it. Why is it that you think so many people are enthusiastically supporting people like Bernie Sanders, people like Donald Trump? And I'm talking about some people that in the past maybe haven't been motivated to go out and vote?"

"I think it is a lack of information, to be honest," Frank said. "The fact is that if you are seriously committed to a set of public policy goals, then you are voting all the time and you also ... you have people who don't understand frankly the nature of the American political system. It's the separation of powers. It takes, because of the Constitution, not because of anybody individual, maybe because of James Madison, but nobody more recently, it takes you two elections to get a governing majority in America.

"And what happened is look, the people who decided I'm not going to vote, they haven't done everything I want, so they vote for Obama in '08, the Republicans in '10, the Democrats re-elect Obama in '12, the Republicans in '14. Not individual switching, but the electorate, and that's why we have gridlock. I think what you have is people who frankly don't understand that, and it is a case of people blaming a, quote, system when the system is simply the accumulation of their own behavior."

"So the people that come out and actually are motivated to come out and vote, you're telling me those are the ones that lack information?" Díaz-Balart asked.

"No, the ones who don't vote are the ones who lack information," Frank said.

Diaz-Balart essentially repeated his question at that point, asking Frank why Trump and Sanders had been able to generate so much enthusiasm with their fans.

"Hillary Clinton has many more votes than Sanders," Frank said. "What it is is the fact that people have a tendency to blame others for things that are their own fault. That's what you have, and I think it's a lack of information ... Again, far less on the Democratic side than have voted for Hillary Clinton. She's way ahead of him in votes cast, but you have people who, because of I think a lack of information and a misunderstanding of the process, not having voted, people are reluctant to blame themselves. People like to find somebody else to blame, so they'll [say], 'Sanders pointed out it's that system's fault,' and I think that's unfortunate."

Frank again expressed his resentment that many Sanders supporters would not necessarily vote for Clinton in the general election if she was the nominee, whereas Clinton supporters understood how change worked and would come out for Sanders if necessary. He added one of the reasons Sanders performs better than Clinton in polls against Trump was because of that "lack of information" and "misunderstanding of how you really get change done in America."