Sen. Bernie Sanders is surging in the primary, and the Democratic establishment is quaking in their shoes. This looks good to me, because in 2015 and 2016 I was a Bernie gal.
I was a Democrat then, and regrettably still had some illusions about American politics, American institutions, and the mainstream media. I liked Sanders then and now, not because I agree with all his policies, but because of who he is: a non-politician politician who hadn’t sold his soul to corporate interests.
But I should’ve realized then the incongruity of Hillary Clinton and Sanders fighting for the nomination of the same party. They are like chalk and cheese, and don’t belong in the same category. Rep. Alexandria Cortez is right when she recently declared that in any other country Biden and she wouldn’t be in the same political party.
Fast-forward a few years, and this thoroughly disillusioned voter is now a Trump supporter. I was too scared to vote in 2016 for the unknown entity called Trump, but that view has changed dramatically. It has changed because I haven’t outsourced my brain to mainstream media to tell me what to think of Trump.
Trump’s tweets and unconventional conduct have been just distractions, but his policies have come as a surprise. His strong stances on illegal immigration, trade, manufacturing jobs, and deregulation have delivered for working Americans, as seen in the booming economy, high employment figures and rising wages of Hispanic- and African-Americans.
That brings us back to Bernie. But this time around, I don’t see myself voting for Sanders if he is, ahem, allowed to be the Democratic nominee.
Open Borders Plus Socialism Equals Destitution
One big reason is illegal immigration. Once upon a time in D.C., before identity politics took over the Democratic Party, Sanders had some commonsense thoughts on illegal immigration. He recognized that his ideal of Democratic socialism and a strong safety net couldn’t exist alongside de facto open borders. He correctly thought that the idea of uncontrolled mass immigration was a “Koch brothers proposal.”
But since then he has capitulated, maybe in the interest of survival in today’s Democratic Party. In the past year, he has done an about-turn on illegal immigration, and has been spouting the left’s racism and social justice talking points on the issue.
That has made him in this respect a cowed lion. There’s no way voters like me are going to vote for Bernie if he is for taxpayer-covered health care, taxpayer-covered public college, and illegal immigration. In this scenario, his Medicare for All becomes Medicare for Half the World, because half or a quarter of the world would flock here. There’s simply not enough money in America to tax for that.
This is one reason I support non-corporate-controlled presidential debates. It is imperative to have debates that aren’t conducted by the partisan mainstream media, so we can ask the hard-hitting questions that voters want answered. For instance: Mr. Sanders, are you for Medicare for All, for illegal immigration, and for free health care for illegal immigrants, and how exactly would you expect Americans to pay for that?
Good Diagnosis, Shaky Prescriptions
As pundits have pointed out, the economic ideas that were considered radical in the Democratic Party of 2016 are in the mainstream of today’s Democratic Party, and that’s thanks entirely to Sanders. Underline the fact that Sanders is known and admired for his class-based economic advocacy, not race or identity-politics-based proposals.
The first line of his future obituary should probably read: “He tirelessly talked about corporate influence in politics, and the misplaced priorities of a rich country like America which spends hundreds of billions on its defense budget, and trillions on its wars, but renders its poor and middle-class citizens bankrupt due to medical bills and college tuition.”
But let’s face it, something I wondered in 2016 is more pronounced today: I wondered then if he had the political wherewithal to actually implement his proposals if he were elected. The sad truth is, some leaders are fiery proponents of ideas but may not be the most able executers of them, and Sanders may fit in that category. That is more evident today, given his advanced age, his health concerns, and his seeming frailty notwithstanding his vigor.
In short, Sanders has the perfect diagnosis of our sick, broken political system, but he may not have the perfect treatment plan or the ability to execute it.
Huge Tax Hikes on the Modestly Affluent
The following is an inherent problem with democratic socialism: along with the deserved high taxation on corporate interests and the super-rich, modestly affluent Americans—i.e. the top 10 to 20 percent of voters—will also face much higher taxes. That is why the “socialism” label will stick to Sanders and harm him.
Most Americans favor high taxes on the top 1 percent, and most of us in the top 10 to 20 percent (especially those who are or were Democrat) may not mind paying a little more in taxes with altruism in mind, but the problem starts with a Sanders administration’s ever-increasing taxes on this group. The reasoning goes: We are not trust fund babies. We came by our modest wealth the hard way, through hard work, sacrifice, risk-taking, and deferred gratification. We resent the government taking and giving much of our hard-earned wealth to those who perhaps made easier choices.
It is a hard sell to tell modestly affluent, hard-working Americans (such as doctors, lawyers, small business owners) that they should help shoulder the burden of more of their less-fortunate fellow citizens, especially in a country with porous borders.
Some of Sanders’ Followers Are Scary
Since 2016, I’ve been much more scared of the far left than the far right. The far left, especially the Antifa types and the Twitter left, have made it clear that they aren’t fans of free speech, fairness, or the rule of law. That the far left has its knives out for Trump supporters was confirmed by the recent airing of the Project Veritas video of a Sanders field organizer, who talked of all-out socialism if Sanders is elected, and of re-education camps for Trump supporters.
This kind of extreme thinking may just be a sliver of Sanders’ support. But the illiberal behavior of a very large portion of the left around just one instance, the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, doesn’t bode well for our republic if this crowd gets power. Would Sanders be able to actually rein in these unruly, non-democratic elements? It looks doubtful. Suddenly free health care looks much less attractive if it means anarchy on the streets, and jettisoning free speech and the rule of law.
It breaks my heart to say it because I genuinely like Sanders, and my liberal son would never forgive me, but for all the above reasons, I don’t see myself voting for Sanders if he’s the Democratic nominee.