Bernie Facing Lawsuit Threat as Libertarian Students Allege He's Using Their Slogan To Trick Voters


Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist in the old left mold, is now the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, which means we have to confront the ugly possibility that our next president could be someone who’s perfectly all right with the idea government should take more of your stuff.

This is a new concept.

In 1984, Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale bravely told a campaign crowd: “Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.”

It’s not that Mondale had much chance of unseating Reagan, but that line has been seen as the point where a loss turned into a disaster. Since then, Democrats have been very circumspect to say one thing: They’re not going to take your stuff.

Sanders would change that. Granted, he says he’s only going to be taking the rich’s stuff, but I think we all know where this is going.

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At least one libertarian group says that Sanders is getting started early.

According to the Washington Examiner, Young Americans for Liberty, a nonprofit libertarian student activist group, is threatening a lawsuit against Sanders’ campaign, arguing he took their door-to-door campaigning slogan, “Operation Win at the Door,” and appropriated it for his campaign.

“YAL launched Operation Win at the Door in 2018. Operation Win at the Door has knocked on over 1.5 million doors and secured 56 election victories,” Dan Backer, counsel for the group, said in a cease-and-desist letter to the Sanders campaign.

“YAL has expended substantial resources in developing the name and goodwill associated with Operation Win at the Door. Your bastardization of our clients’ intellectual property and flagrant attempt to redistribute their hard-won goodwill — a product of tremendous labor on the part of our client — is unauthorized and un-American.”

As you can see from the video, this isn’t exactly a new slogan for YAL.

While they might be a niche group for those of you who don’t follow politics, anyone in the game is pretty familiar with these guys, meaning that it’s unlikely that even the comrades over at the Sanders campaign hadn’t heard of them or their branding.

Those Sanders comrades are also familiar with the fact that the group finds Sanders’ socialism completely anathema to their belief system.

Yet, according to text messages obtained by The Washington Times, operatives from the Sanders campaign were sending text messages urging people to join “the largest grassroots campaign in the country — Operation Win at the Door.”

“This bald-faced deceit violates laws that prohibit such deceptive solicitations and protect donations for their intended use as well as infringes on the intellectual property rights of YAL,” the letter said.

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“Bernie’s campaign is using YAL’s ‘Operation Win at the Door’ branding to solicit door knockers via text message — branding that we’ve spent three years building,” YAL president Cliff Maloney told The Western Journal.

“They must be realizing how much our strategy of engaging voters directly at the doorstep is impacting elections.”

The group plans a lawsuit unless the Sanders campaign backs away from Operation Win at the Door.

This isn’t exactly the biggest problem for the Sanders campaign at the moment.

He’s the mostly unquestioned front-runner in the Democratic field right now. In case you aren’t familiar with how the cycle works, this means we’ll focus on terrible things he or those in his orbit have done for a few weeks — things we probably could have focused on long ago, mind you — until he’s no longer the front-runner.

There’s the general issue that the media has been forced to do more than take a desultory look at the math behind Sanders’ plans and seriously ask, in a manner beyond the usual passing-interest tone that they’ve utilized with Bernie’s ideas up until now, how we’re expected to pay for it.

Then there’s the specific issue of the “Bernie Bros,” the passive-aggressive young male leftist retinue that’s agglomerated around the Sanders campaign — though they tend to become less passive-aggressive and more aggressive-aggressive if you seriously question Dear Leader’s beliefs.

While the media has tended to treat this in the abstract when they addressed it at all, now that he’s the front-runner they actually took a hard look at threats made on Twitter against officials of Nevada’s Culinary Union — which came out against “Medicare for All,” since it would take away the rather generous health care packages many unions have managed to negotiate.

“Obviously, that is not acceptable to me. And I don’t know who these so-called supporters are. You know, we are living in a strange world on the internet. … Anybody making personal attacks against anybody else in my name is not part of our movement,” Sanders said after it was reported that his supporters took to Twitter and lobbed insults at Culinary Union officials like “b—hes,” “whore,” “f—ing scab” and “evil, entitled a–holes.”

Basically, on the Richter scale of stuff Sanders has to deal with right now, the potential YAL lawsuit is a 3.8 as opposed to, say a 7.2.

However, even though the YAL kerfuffle might just be a tremor, it’s possibly the apropos controversy for the Sanders campaign right now.

English majors will be familiar with the “objective correlative,” a device by which an author uses an outward event to express an inward quality.

The most cliché of these, probably, is when some wretched author uses rain to represent sadness.

The YAL controversy is the objective correlative of the Sanders ethos.

Did they use the phrase in some official manner? Apparently.

Did they know it was in wide use by another group? Possibly verging on probably.

Could they have Googled it to find out? Sure.

Did they care? Eeh.

After all, what is property? “Operation Win at the Door” is vague enough that it could belong to anyone.

Plus, YAL is smaller than the Sanders campaign in the same way that the individual or the corporation is smaller than the government.

Surely you concede the Sanders campaign can take it, right? Who’s to say a bunch of words is really just theirs, anyway?

The Western Journal has reached out to the Sanders campaign for comment. Perhaps this is all a big misunderstanding. But if the facts are accurate, we can assume the “Operation Win at the Door” is the objective correlative of the Sanders campaign.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture