A common misconception is that democratic values and the Democratic Party are synonymous. “Of course Bernie is a Democrat,” the refrain goes. “He’s been Democratting hard for decades!” Except few of his labels, including this one, are accurate.
The Democratic Party is a non-government organization with its own maturing set of interconnected goals. Members work toward these by helping get each other elected and pooling clout to pass progressive bills. It’s the oldest political party in the world.
Sanders is a newcomer to the party. He has caucused with Democrats on occasion but doesn’t contribute on a larger scale. Right now Hillary continues to donate millions to the DNC while Sanders enjoys a free ride, mocking the organization and tossing caustic insinuations when things don’t go his way. Let’s say it plainly: Bernie Sanders is no capital-D Democrat.
Nor is he a social democrat. Economies that incorporate social democracy have a strong base of capitalism underneath driving the funding of it all. Sanders has shown disdain for industries that account for a significant percentage of the US GDP. He’s on the populist anti-GMO train. Wall Street needs further reform, but his claim “their business is fraud” shows a lack of understanding of history and of economics, both micro and macro. He denounces dirty energy but, unlike Hillary, has no plans for displaced coal miners and refinery workers. The only way to achieve social programs like universal health care and free public education is to increase the tax base on top of a thriving economy. In a social democracy, you can’t have the socialism part without the capitalism part.
Nor is he a socialist. When does he speak of worker-owned companies? Mondragon in Spain has proven the model works and there’s no reason it couldn’t be nurtured in America. When does he speak of public ownership of critical resources like water? Public schools and cops and highways aren’t socialism, and attempts to link these features of every society to Marx is unfounded. His platform has been, at best, progressive. Except when it’s not, like his prime time insistence that Mexican immigration needed to be reversed for the sake of American jobs. (related)
Nor is he an independent. He had the option of getting ballot signatures in all the states and running an independent ad campaign. If he had a big enough following he would be on stage with the Republican and Democratic candidates for November. Instead, last year he joined a party and got free exposure to millions of people who had never heard of him. He didn’t earn that attention. He’s riding the coat tails of Democrats who have worked for literally centuries pushing America forward and earning the party its reputation as the one of reason and compassion. Why not infiltrate the GOP instead? Because it’s easy being on the “right” team while complaining loudly about how not-good-enough it is.
Nor, unfortunately, is he a revolutionary leader. His fan base is more out of control than the Tea Party, demonizing progressive institutions that dare support Hillary’s track record, spouting sexist vulgarities online, conspiring to cheat in the Nevada caucuses. He rarely asks them to reign it in. His ground game in the Carolinas shows how uncoordinated and under-staffed his volunteer army is. (He’s the only candidate to pay some staffers.) They were able to move the needle in small states by summoning all their focus, but the enthusiasm isn’t scaling to larger states. Their volunteer hub on Reddit contains endless pleas for more door-knockers as Hillary cements a strong lead in the polls. This doesn’t bode well for the camp’s ability to gain the House seats it would need next season to unlock Congressional stonewalling.
Today in Nevada may be the last party for the Sanders camp. “Nevada polling is notoriously hard because of the transient population,” it’s said. He may have pulled even in the state, and they’re going to be excited about that.
Super Tuesday is going to be quite the hangover.
Bonus edit: Krugman explains the Sanders platform in one graph.
Note from a Redditor: “Just to point out, centuries is a little much considering Democrats were the racist ones just one century ago. I think the original progressive was a Republican (Teddy Roosevelt) if I remember correctly. Decades is more accurate.”
This post was read 1718 times.