A fellow passenger tweeted out a photo of Sen. Bernie Sanders flying first class on Wednesday, sparking an online debate over whether the 2020 presidential candidate was living out his socialist ideals.
“A nervous democratic socialist in first class,” tweeted Hank Thomas, the CEO of Washington, DC-based cybersecurity firm Strategic Cyber Ventures.
Thomas’ photo prompted Sanders’ critics to weigh in, with many of them accusing the Vermont senator of hypocrisy.
Sanders has forcefully railed against the injustices of economic inequality and painted the divide between wealthy Americans and everyone else as an “us versus them” scenario.
“Bernie keeps getting caught in first class. You’d think he would suck it up and fly coach or just get the private jet and avoid anyone seeing him,” said one commenter.
Climate change activism? 🤔😏
— A.C. Meinde (@ACMeinde) February 13, 2020
“Socialism for you Capitalism for me,” tweeted Brazilian pastor Ronald Gustavo.
Others jumped in to defend Sanders and slammed Thomas as a “nervous venture capitalist worried that he will soon be taxed fairly.”
“Yo Hank, I see you’re a Venture Capitalist. Can’t wait to tax you so poor people can go to the doctor,” said one commenter.
Thomas responded to criticism from Sanders’ supporters by saying he held no “ill will toward @SenSanders or his beliefs.”
For the record: I have no ill will against @SenSanders or his political beliefs. The intention was for humorous discourse. The photo is 100% authentic. Our country is far too polarized.
— Hank Thomas (@HankThomasDC) February 13, 2020
“The intention was for humorous discourse. The photo is 100% authentic. Our country is far too polarized,” he tweeted.
This isn’t the first time critics have questioned whether the outspoken champion of the underclass is paying mere lip service to his ideals.
Why didn’t u add this one? https://t.co/5sBjwjc0Fu
— BaldHeadMan (@BaldHeadMan2) February 13, 2020
A photograph showing Sanders flying first class went viral in July.
Let them eat cake…
— Guy 🇺🇸 (@GuyBaker) July 7, 2019
In 2018, filings made by Sanders’ campaign showed he became a millionaire in 2016, thus joining the elite “1 percent” he so often lambasts.
His defenders argue that there’s nothing ideologically incoherent about him being both a democratic socialist and a wealthy man.
How many yachts do billionaires need? How many cars do they need? Give us a break. You can't have it all.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 21, 2017
However, Sanders’ critics find it odd for a man with a burgeoning $2 million net worth and three-homes to be lecturing Americans on the excesses of wealth.