During one of the presidential debates (probably during the primaries) I remember there being an exchange between a long time congressman (maybe Ron Paul or Bernie Sanders) and another candidate about how the long time congressman had voted for or that did some not so good things. Or maybe the long time congressman voted against a bill that did some pretty great stuff but for the sake of making this post simpler I'll just assume it's the former.

This long time congressman justified their vote by saying that although the bill did bad things that he ultimately voted for the bill because of the good things he did, which he proceeded to elaborate upon.

I'd like to find this quote. Like who said it and when.

Any ideas?

  • Don't know the quote, but there are also many times that someone votes against a good bill because it includes some bad provisions.
    – Barmar
    Aug 3, 2022 at 22:19

1 Answer 1


I think you're referring to a section of debate on the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, more commonly known as the 1994 Crime Bill, which was a fairly prominent issue in the 2016 Democratic primary race. In the seventh debate held on March 6th in Flint, Michigan, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were quizzed on their support for the bill.

Clinton gave a response which mentioned that some provisions within the bill worked well; the aspects of the bill relating to violence against women, for example. Sanders, however, gave a response which contains the 'good stuff and bad stuff' quote which I think you're remembering:-

LEMON: And, Senator Sanders, before you respond, I want to ask you this. Back in 1994, here’s what you warned, we are dooming tens of millions of young people to a future of bitterness, mystery, hopelessness, drugs, crime, and violence, but you voted for the bill anyway. Was your vote a mistake?

SANDERS: You know, as I think Secretary Clinton knows, as we all know, there are bills in congress that have bad stuff, there are bills in congress that have good stuff. Good stuff and bad stuff in the same bill.

Now, if I have voted against that bill, Secretary Clinton would be here tonight and she’d say, “Bernie Sanders voted against the ban on assault weapons. Bernie Sanders voted against the violence against women act.” Those were provisions in the bill, as the Secretary just indicated. So, in that bill there was some good provisions, I have been a fierce fighter against domestic violence ever since I was mayor in Burlington.

Violence against women act has protected millions of women in this country, it was in that bill. The ban on assault weapons, that’s what I have fought for my whole life. It was in that bill.

Now, what you are reading though is I went to the floor, as I recall, and that’s what I said. I tried to get the death penalty aspects in that bill out. Secretary Clinton have a disagreement. I was then, and I am now opposed to the death penalty.


SANDERS: So, to answer your question, what you read was a congressman who was torn, who said there are good things in that bill, there are bad things overall. I voted for it.

But where we are right now is having more than 2.2 million people in jail — more than any other country on earth. This is a campaign promise, at the end of my first term, we will not have more people in jail than any other country.

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