Monday, October 19, 2015



19 October 15


I encourage you all to watch this interview of Bernie Sanders, on the other night with Bill Maher.  Maher is not exactly a hostile interviewer. He clearly has sympathies with Sanders, politically, and is trying to introduce him to his viewers as being more in the mainstream than they might otherwise imagine. But Sanders is having none of it – he reiterates, again and again, his most socialist and redistributionist tendencies. The moment, at the 7 minute mark, where Maher asks whether all the gifts Sanders offers can possibly be paid for without raising taxes for anyone other than the one percent is just about perfect: it exposes the total lack of seriousness in Sanders’ proposals, and the fact he has no idea how much any of this will cost. Honestly, Larry David would be a better candidate, at least when it comes to obsessing over such minor details.

Sanders is planning a ‘major speech’ on democratic socialism, he tells Iowa supporters, that will explain all.  “He was asked about actor Larry David's portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live. David, among other things, suggested the democratic socialist wears only one pair of underwear. Sanders assured reporters that he has “an ample supply.”  But why should he? “An ample supply”? Is he hoarding his underwear and failing to redistribute it properly to those in need of additional undergarments?

George Will argues that Sanders fundamentally doesn’t understand economic equality. But have no fear: no one will call him on it. What is perhaps most telling about the tenor of this cycle is that no one in the Democratic Party has forced the issue with Sanders as a negative – as something that reveals a defect in his thinking. Reporting on how the young voters are reacting:  “Remind me what a socialist is?” Miller said last week. A friend, Nik Wasson, tried to explain: “A socialist is someone who believes the government needs to be involved in a lot of aspects of the economy, and social issues as well.”  “Okay,” said Miller, who was born in 1995. “Well, knowing what ‘democratic’ means — and now, knowing again what ‘socialist’ means,” he approved of the combination. “[Sanders] might want to see government have a heavier hand in certain policies,” he said, but “he wants everyone to have a say in it.”

“Sanders’s remarkable success this year — in spite of his label as a socialist — is due to a mix of good politics and great timing. Twenty-four years after the end of the Cold War, many Americans no longer associate socialism with fear or missiles — or with failure, food lines or empty Soviet supermarkets. A word that their elders saw as a slur had become a blank, open for Sanders to define. And this year, Sanders (I-Vt.) has tried to define it with an eye toward a moderate audience.

“He has called for huge growth in government regulation and spending. But he has stayed away from classic socialist ideas, like government takeovers of private industry. And, in his speeches, Sanders has talked about socialism in modest, solidly American terms: It’s nothing more than the pursuit of fairness in a country now rigged by the rich.

“So far, it’s worked — but Sanders still hasn’t had to face an opponent determined to use socialism against him. “What democratic socialism means to me,” Sanders said during a recent speech in New Hampshire, “is having a government which represents all people, rather than just the wealthiest people, which is most often the case right now in this country.”

Of course, all this ignores the fact that by many measures, the United States is already at least as Socialist as Denmark.  But that is beside the point. Sanders has the right targets for the times – it doesn’t matter what he intends to do about them.

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