In many ways, Bernie Sanders is the left’s equivalent of Donald Trump: the fringe candidate whose appeal comes from his alternative approach to politics, the very antithesis of the established political parties. While Hillary Clinton remains ahead in national polls, and his talk of “democratic socialism” has scared plenty of people, Sanders has been steadily earning his fair share of high-profile endorsements: a number of important unions, MMA fighter Ronda Rousey and even Atlanta’s own rapper Killer Mike. Yet his most recent endorsement has come from a place that few people could expect: conservative Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
Speaking on an episode of “Arkansas Week: Special Edition” that aired January 1, Cotton offered his support for the aging Vermont senator, saying that he was “strongly in favor of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party”. This support makes Cotton the first senator to back Sanders. 38 of his 46 Democratic colleagues have endorsed Clinton, while the remaining Democrats have yet to weigh in. Nonetheless, he has earned endorsements from a good number of established political leaders and celebrities, although nowhere near as many as rival Hillary Clinton.
Yet anybody would be foolish to take Cotton’s endorsement too seriously, or even view it as “support”. In the past, the conservative Arkansan had had harsh words for Sanders. Last November, Cotton accused Sanders of being a Communist, and in the same breath made sure to mention that it was “a political system that caused the deaths of tens of millions of people in the 20th Century”. When saying that Cotton was in favor of seeing Sanders in the Democratic Party, he most likely was hoping that Sanders’ views as a “democratic socialist” would alienate enough voters to let a Republican candidate come to power.