I really do not like Bernie Sanders. And I mean really.
As ferociously as I promote civil, well-reasoned, dispassionate political discourse, I admit that I have a hard time keeping my cool when the Vermont Senator is a part of the subject matter at hand.
Bernie Sanders politics are almost entirely antithetical to what I believe in. Even when we overlap, it tends to be for wildly different reasons. In February, Sanders proposed legislation to allow Americans to purchase pharmaceuticals from abroad (it would eventually fail in the Senate). At the moment, many of these purchases are abridged or prohibited due to trade barriers that are in place thanks to lobbying from Big Pharma. The result of this protectionism is artificially high drug prices at home in the US. I imagine that Sanders wants to tear down these walls as a way to punish Big Pharma and because, in this instance, he feels there are benefits to permitting consumer choice. I, on the other hand, believe that government has no business telling Americans what they can and cannot buy nor who they can buy from, so Bernie Sanders’s seal of approval should be irrelevant. I also believe that free trade is a boon to economic growth and keeps prices low in general. Sanders thinks government should determine when to allow the free exchange of goods and services across national borders because big government knows best.
Beyond politics, I believe Bernie is a hypocrite, a horrendous role model, and a demagogic snake.
Sanders claims to stand for the working class and the poor, yet he owns three houses and has never had a real job. Instead of getting his hands dirty as a public school teacher, putting his life on the line as a fireman, or otherwise directly contributing to making the world a better place, Sanders has spent nearly four decades collecting a generous, tax-payer-funded paycheck in various positions of government. He earned over a million dollars last year.
I want to believe that to the general public of the United States of America, Bernie Sanders is as much of a joke as he is to me. I want to believe that America could never fall for the manipulations and obfuscations of a weasley Communist. I want to believe that Americans understand their rights and are aware of the devastation Sandersian policies have caused throughout the 20th Century and are on display now in Venezuela.
But I don’t.
I don’t believe any of those things intuitively, and I don’t believe them based on the available data.
The Mainstream Media, suffering from massive quantities of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias, have compensated for their false assumptions and failed polling data by manufacturing fictions about Nazi uprisings and Russian meddling to explain Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.
But the way I see it, the story is quite simple:
After 16 years of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the American people, especially lower-income Republicans and Progressives, were angry.
Republicans were angered by Bush’s complete failure to be a Conservative as well as his sending their children off to fight pointless, endless wars. They were angry at Obama for his Global-Citizen (as opposed to patriotic American) speeches, his palling around with people who ridicule them, and his policies and warmongering in general.
Progressives were angry at Bush for everything, and they were angry that Obama did not bring about the Utopia of “Hope and Change” they had expected.
As a result of this anger, Trump’s populism won the GOP nomination, and Sanders’ populism came close to taking down the seemingly unbeatable Clinton machine.
In the general election, Trump and Clinton both lost sizeable shares of their parties. Aside from those, like Dennis Prager, who believe that Leftism is such a great danger to America that any Republican would suffice, or, in other words, aside from those who subscribe to the acceptance of the lesser-of-two-evils, Constitutional Conservatives, movement Conservatives, and Liberty-leaning Republicans refused to vote for Trump in droves. Some, like P.J. O’Rourke, chose Clinton as the devil you know, some went for third-party candidates like Gary Johnson and Evan McMullin, and some probably didn’t vote at all.
Clinton lost Progressives who couldn’t stomach her interventionism or support for multinational trade agreements, minorities who only voted for Obama because of his race, and some of the disappointed youth voters that Sanders had energized.
Likely most consequently, Clinton lost a chunk of white working class voters who supported Obama four and eight years earlier. These voters are fearful of traditionally Conservative economic policies that sometimes cost them their livelihoods, but also fear mass immigration for the same reason. Moreover, these Americans are not persuaded by multiculturalism or hyper-progressive social initiatives like allowing children to choose which school restroom to use based on what gender they feel they are.
While it’s unlikely that Trump picked up many members of the first three demographics I mentioned, he got the working-class whites. By making immigration and trade reform his most prominent issues, by promising to leave Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid intact, and by saying he’d swap American interventionism for “America First,” Trump had put together a winning formula. He even managed to get one out of every ten Bernie Bros according to the available polling data and, to be fair, common sense.
If Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic Primary in 2020, even if he’s 150 years old, he’ll beat Trump in an absolute landslide.
Bernie Sanders would bring together the automatic Democrats, the principled Progressives, the Obama minorities, the frustrated youth, and the white working class. Every left-leaning demographic that Hillary Clinton lost and every unprincipled demographic that Trump and Bernie agitated into the political sphere in 2016 would be Feeling the Bern.
Trump’s support would be reduced to automatic Republicans, anti-Progressive nationalists, Trump diehards, and those who feel that anything is better than Socialism. And that will not be enough to constitute a voting majority.
The only thing that could derail a Sanders presidency if he decides to run for and wins the DNC nomination (neither of which are guarantees) would be a Jill Stein from the other side. In other words, if the Democratic Party were fractured by an insurgent anti-Sanders group, it peel away enough voters to give Trump the edge.
What kind of insurgency would this be? I imagine a third-way feminist revolt. Sanders and his supporters were smeared as sexists from within their own party during and after the last election, and this tactic will be used again. If some on the left are too committed to getting a woman or minority into office, Trump will have a shot at beating Bernie.
I write none of this in celebration. There is no glee in these words. But I am committed to telling the truth. And the truth is that the America our Founding Fathers fought and died for is seldom persuasive to a voting majority of human beings.
Let’s hope I’m wrong.