A vote for Sanders is a vote for Trump

Four years ago, Democrats nominated the one candidate Trump could beat. Will history repeat?

Four years ago, I didn’t think my then-fellow Republicans would be crazy enough to nominate Trump. Then I watched in horror as, like lemmings, they plunged en masse off that cliff.

I’d underestimated Trump fans’ reckless passion, and the resulting momentum. A similar dynamic could propel Sanders. Though while winner-take-all Republican primaries enabled Trump to rack up delegates, Democrats instead mostly use a proportional system. Sanders could “win” most primaries with, like, 30% of the vote, yet lose the nomination. That would enrage his fans, kneecapping the Democratic campaign.

Meantime Trump tries to paint Democrats as dangerous crazy radicals. Sandernistas seem determined to help him. They fantasize the moment has arrived for their “social justice” revolution. Revved up for years with demonizing capitalism, they imagine “socialism” is somehow a viable alternative, even romanticizing the word.

Sanders himself has long worn the “socialist” badge as a puckish provocateur. This won’t be indulged by the wider American electorate. It will be a leaden albatross around his neck, in November. He’ll be called a communist. And why not? He honeymooned in that socialist paradise, the USSR.

He and his supporters are actually either confused or disingenuous about what “socialism” means. We’re told that if you like publicly provided roads, schools, libraries, etc., why, that’s socialism! No. It’s simply government performing normal governmental functions. Socialism is government taking over functions that in a free society are the purview of the private sector.

Sanders talks of “democratic socialism,”  as if such government monopolization of power is democratic. It isn’t. History proves — as one might expect — such concentration of power is fundamentally antithetical to democracy.

He invokes as models the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland). Another misconception. These nations do have strong social safety nets, but not socialist economies. In fact they’re more free-market capitalist than America. That produces a lot of wealth, which they tax heavily, to fund their social spending.

Class war is central to Bernie’s candidacy. He’s all about the idea that the rich and corporations are screwing everybody else, and taking them down is the way to a fairer, better society. But such class war rhetoric puts off most Americans, for good reason: it’s wrong.

The idea that corporations and the affluent get their profits and wealth at the expense of the rest is a fallacy. Steve Jobs got rich not by ripping people off but by giving them products they valued above their cost. Improving, not worsening, societal welfare. That’s what productive effort does in a free market economy.

Americans who do well are not the cause of others doing less well. What’s happening instead is technology changing the economic landscape ever faster, with many Americans not positioned to benefit. Often because their education is crap. What’s needed is not tearing down businesses and successful people, but equipping more people for success.

Moreover, this country is being torn apart and wrecked by increasingly bitter political polarization. We desperately need some way out of this, restoring common purpose. Not class war politics further enflaming societal divisions. And those divisions make that class war unwinnable for Sandernistas. Even if he somehow got elected (unlikely), his program would unleash a firestorm of conflict.

All this is why Bernie’s candidacy augurs disaster. Nominating him will bring us not to a socialist Jerusalem, but more likely destruction of the American idea with four more years of a depraved, deranged, and out-of-control monster.


9 Responses to “A vote for Sanders is a vote for Trump”

  1. Lee Says:

    I agree with “What’s needed is not tearing down businesses and successful people, but equipping more people for success.” One way to equip people is by shifting the tax break for the already successful to instead be a tax break for those who need equipping. Another way is universal health care, so that those who need equipping can focus on success rather than health care and how to pay for it. Another way is to stop subsidizing the carbon-based energy sector that is literally drowning us (i.e., is not what we mean by success) and instead subsidize the part of the energy sector that is sustainable.

    Have I missed any key parts of Sander’s platform?

  2. rationaloptimist Says:

    None of this is particular to Sanders. None of it is “socialist.”

  3. Lee Says:

    Yes, that is my point. If we stop worrying about whether it should be called “socialism” or “democratic socialism” or something else, and instead focus on what Sanders wants to accomplish then we see that his goals are not particularly different from the ideals you espouse, nor is he all that different from his competitors in the primary. They are all trying to equip those who need it instead of giving tax cuts to those who are already successful.

    Sure, with any of the leading Democratic candidates one can find something to disagree with, but I am finding each of them to be reasonable in the whole. My biggest beef with Sanders (or Biden) is that I would like someone younger.

  4. frankzollo Says:

    Some recent swing state polls:

    Bernie 46% (+4)
    Trump 42%

    Bernie 53% (+6)
    Trump 47%

    Bernie 50% (+5)
    Trump 45%

    Among independent voters nationally:

    Bernie 54% (+12)
    Trump 42%

    Bernie 52% (+12)
    Trump 40%

    Bernie 52% (+14)
    Trump 38%

    Trump won independents by 4pts in 2016. If you’re actually serious about beating Trump, there’s only one safe choice.

  5. rationaloptimist Says:

    You don’t list polls for any OTHER Democrats. Nor does this consider Bernie’s vulnerabilities to a ferocious Republican attack machine. SOCIALIST! SOCIALIST! SOCIALIST! Here’s my considered ranking on likelihood to beat Trump:
    1. Biden
    2. Klobuchar
    3. Bloomberg
    4. Buttigieg
    5. Warren
    6. Sanders

  6. Lee Says:

    @rationaloptimist, would you say that you have listed these candidates from most centrist to most progressive, more or less?

    There are two camps out there. One camp says that you have to win over the moderates and the other camp says that you have to get the progressive base to turn out. Camp one might rate the candidates in the order you have given; camp two might reverse it completely!

    The jury is still out as to which camp is correct for electing a Democrat. Bill Clinton won as a centrist but Hillary Clinton lost as a centrist. Obama ran and won as a progressive, plus his “unelectable” skin color made him even less appealing to some moderates and even more appealing to some of the progressive base. Not sure how to classify Gore; some of each back then, but he lost. Kerry ran as a progressive and lost (though maybe because he tried unsuccessfully to hide that he was progressive?). I guess I would put Dukakis in the same mold as Kerry for this list.

    My observation is that centrists tend to believe in camp one and progressives tend to believe in camp two!

  7. rationaloptimist Says:

    America is basically a center-right country. The idea that it will embrace a far left class-war candidate who’s called himself a socialist seems delusional to me.

  8. frankzollo Says:

    Frank, if Biden is the nominee, “Hunter Biden” will be the new “Hillary’s emails” of this election cycle. If it’s Warren, it will be four months of “Pocohantas”. And you’re worried about Bernie being red-baited? Millions of voters in this election weren’t even born when the Soviet Union ended. That dog won’t hunt anymore.

  9. Lee Says:

    There’s an article in The Atlantic that argues that the “other swing voter” is the one who swings between a progressive candidate and not voting (or third party), and that there are more of these than those who swing between left-center and right-center. Sanders, Warren, or Yang has a better chance at picking up these other swing voters than Biden, Buttigieg, or Klobuchar.

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