Bernie Sanders regaled the Democratic convention with a long speech of refreshing honesty. At a time when Trump’s best strategy is to portray the Democratic party as radically socialist, Bernie did his job for him.
“Many of the ideas we fought for,” he declared proudly, “that just a few years ago were considered radical, are now mainstream.” [In his party, that is.]
The ideas that Bernie and his comrades fought for so courageously are collectively designed to turn the USA into a USSA, with the extra ‘S’ for Socialist.
Specifically, Bernie opposes free enterprise and the economic inequality it produces. That it also produces widely spread prosperity on a historically unprecedented scale is a fact that Bernie doesn’t let interfere with good ideology.
That general philosophy is broken up into various policy ploys. For example, Bernie favours greater unionisation, apparently envious of the success this delivered in Britain and elsewhere in Europe.
He also supports free or at least universal everything, including tertiary education and healthcare. ‘Free’ is the socialist for ‘paid out of the public purse’. Now, that receptacle is mainly filled with tax revenue. Thus, rather than paying for such services direct, people will be paying more to the state, which will act as a general contractor with megalomania.
Since the state can’t match the efficiency of private institutions, ‘free’ effectively means things costing more than they otherwise would, with the added benefit of penalising the most productive individuals.
Sensitive to the economically destructive potential of green policies, Bernie plugs them with the persistence of a used-car salesman, but without the subtlety. He is in favour of an instantly ruinous Green New Deal, running much of the economy on the premise of accepting the global warming hoax at face value.
Yet Bernie can’t be accused of concentrating on strictly parochial issues. As a true socialist, he thinks globally for, as his mentor Karl Marx taught, “the proletariat has no motherland”.
Hence he believes the United States should reduce military spending to a level where she might as well not bother to have any. Rather than relying on brute force, America should pursue negotiations and international treaties with all and sundry, putting an added emphasis on labour rights and environmental issues. Talleyrand and Metternich must be turning green with envy in their graves: it never occurred to them that a foreign policy could be run on that basis.
Put all those ideas together, and they add up to a national suicide note. Moreover, Bernie is so forthright about it that most Americans, even those who haven’t yet benefited from free tertiary education, will know his ideas for what they are.
Hence the Democrats’ best chance is to pretend disingenuously that such suicidal notions still reside only on the extreme left of the party. Yet Bernie’s candid admission that radical socialism tinged with pacifism now floats in the party’s mainstream makes that pretence less sustainable.
“But let us be clear,” continued Sanders, “if Donald Trump is re-elected, all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy.” Is that a threat or a promise, Bernie?
If I were Trump, I’d be rubbing my hands with glee: a better fillip for the incumbent is hard to imagine. Trump may still lose, but Bernie Sanders and his comrades give him a realistic hope of winning. Biden’s campaign would love to push them aside, but there’s the rub: you can’t marginalise the mainstream.