Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) kicked off his first "grassroots" fundraiser of the 2020 election cycle with an introduction from a progressive megadonor who thinks the South has been "dumbing down" American politics and asked if we "could just let the South secede."
Sanders's fundraiser, which took place at the Mezzanine Night Club in San Francisco last weekend, attracted activist Cornel West, Ben and Jerry's founder Ben Cohen, and actor Danny Glover, the New York Times reported.
Guy Saperstein introduced Sanders at the "grassroots" fundraiser. A retired lawyer and wealthy California progressive megadonor, Saperstein is, the Times notes, the "kind of person who, in another context, Mr. Sanders might inveigh against." Saperstein attempted to nudge Elizabeth Warren into the 2016 presidential race and pledged $1 million to back her candidacy at the time.
Recent Stories in Politics
Saperstein also has strong views on the south, which he said is "dumbing down" America. Saperstein made the comments in Gamechanger Salon, a leftwing Google group that consisted of the nearly 1,000 members, including progressive organizers, activists, and reporters.
The group was discovered after Media Trackers, a right-leaning Wisconsin outlet, submitted a public records request in relation to a Wisconsin professor who happened to be a member of the group. Those emails, released in 2014, showed Saperstein making his feelings on a large portion of the country known in a thread discussing a Salon article on how the South is "holding America hostage."
"I thought this was an impressive (if tough) piece of big-picture political strategy and prescription," wrote a member of the group, kicking off the thread. "Would be interested to hear others’ opinions of whether he is on target or way off … and if so what that might imply."
Saperstein was the first participant to respond. "In the alternative, could we just let the South secede?" he said. "My comment was not made in jest at all."
The California megadonor then expanded upon his views.
"For more than 100 years, the South has been dumbing down national politics, tilting the country in a conservative direction, supporting militarism, all while demanding huge financial subsidies from blue states," Saperstein wrote. "It would be 100 percent fine with me if the South was a separate nation, pursuing its own priorities and destiny."
Saperstein, the former president of the Sierra Club Foundation, is also founding member of Patriotic Millionaires, a group of over 200 wealthy liberals who want to "fundamentally reset" America's ideology and economy by "exposing the dogma of free enterprise, limited government, and traditional family values."
Sanders's campaign did not respond to inquiries on Saperstein.