Bernie Sanders Claims His Ideas and Policies
Aren’t ‘Far-Left’ No self-described socialist has gotten as
close to the presidency as Bernie Sanders has since Eugene V. Debs, who didn’t get
very close at all. Sanders probably could have gotten a lot closer
to the Democratic Party nomination in 2016 if the party’s machinery hadn’t been arrayed
against him. That won’t be the problem in 2020 when he’s arguably not the candidate
furthest to the left. Just because there are some people willing
to test the edges of the political spectrum more than he is (coughcoughElizabethWarrencough)
doesn’t mean that he’s not far-left. Again, the man is a self-described socialist. If
you describe yourself as such, we can pretty much be assured you’re on the fringes of
the left. Don’t tell that to him, however.
At the NAACP’s Economic Freedom in Iowa on Saturday, the independent Vermont senator
insisted he’s not peddling extreme ideas or anything like that.
My ideas are not far-left, they are the ideas that the American people want,” Sanders
told the audience. BERNIE: “My ideas are not Far-Left. They
are the ideas that the American people want. There you have it. He’s even doing that
odd Dick Nixon-esque thing he does where he puts his arms up and shakes his hands around.
That’s pretty much how you can tell when he’s laying it on thick.
This wasn’t Sanders’ best appearance, it must be noted. Most of the headlines from
his time at the NAACP forum involved him being asked a question about childcare and responding
with a lengthy diatribe about health care. However, not far-left? I suppose nobody thinks
they’re far-anything, but I would hope Sanders might be someone who might have enough self-awareness
to apply the label to himself. Sanders’ career has been spent pandering
to individuals and governments on the left of the left. With Cuba, for instance, he was
more than happy to talk about the multifarious charms of Fidel Castro.
In 1986, Sanders said that as a young man, it “seemed right and appropriate that poor
people were rising up against the ugly rich people” in Cuba and that he actually got
sick to his stomach watching the Nixon-Kennedy debates as a young man since neither one seemed
to significantly affirm the Cuban revolution. Sanders also honeymooned in the Soviet Union
and defended Nicaragua, a brutal Soviet client state, also during the 1980s.
It’s funny, sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is, that people
are lining up for food,” Bernie said. “That is a good thing. In other countries people
don’t line up for food: the rich get the food and the poor starve to death.”
This was in the 1980s, granted. If he’s softened, it’s because he likes getting
elected. That doesn’t mean he’s changed in any substantive way, however.
If you don’t believe me, take this tidbit from a 2011 Op-Ed: “These days, the American
dream is more apt to be realized in South America, in places such as Ecuador, Venezuela
and Argentina, where incomes are actually more equal today than they are in the land
of Horatio Alger,” he wrote. “Who’s the banana republic now?”
Still Ecuador (currently undergoing a wave of violent protests and under the same ruling
coalition it was in 2011), Venezuela (a socialist hellscape for a good long while and not getting
any better) and Argentina (Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the country’s left-wing Peronist/populist
leader in 2011 recently returned to power as vice president, although this position
is heavily qualified by the multitude of corruption indictments she still faces from her first
stint helming the country). Beyond this, Sanders is pushing a massively
expensive version of single-payer health care in the form of “Medicare for All” (the
one thing we can say about his plan is that it’s possibly less expensive than Elizabeth
Warren’s, although this isn’t anything to recommend it) and can also tweet this without
apparent irony: He’s going to defeat “hate” by, in part,
appearing with the most noxious anti-Semite to grace Congress since Theodore Bilbo. Right.
Rep. Omar is, like the rest of “the squad,” to the far left. Bernie’s gotten their endorsement.
Most of Sanders’ proposals are, at best, adjacent to the far-left — and those have
been polished by a campaign staff that knows socialism won’t win a national election.
He’s liked plenty of far-left figures and governments.
“Not far-left?” Good luck trying to convince America on that one. I’m not sure if Eugene
Debs tried that one out on America, but rest assured it wouldn’t have worked out back
then. It won’t work now, either.