Bernie Sanders, the Last Honest Democrat

Wherein Scragged endorses Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination.

America has a tradition of trying to fight wars until the enemy is so thoroughly defeated he no longer exists.  There is no more Confederacy; there are no more Nazis, at least not in positions of power, nor Italian fascists or Japanese militarists.  When we don't bring a war to a final conclusion soon enough, we get bored and turn our attention to something else.

It's tempting to look at politics the same way, especially since we often speak of elections in combat terms - campaigns, targeted districts, one candidate "gunning for" another, and so on.  As such, you'd think Scragged, being conservative, wants Democrats to vanish from the face of the earth as thoroughly as the Nazis have.

You couldn't be more wrong.  If one party runs everything, it will always be totally corrupt, as our solid-Democrat disaster cities prove every day.

The only way democracy leads to honest government is if there is more than one party that can take power.  Sitting politicians have to feel the whisper of the axe every time they make a decision, or everything they do will be self-serving.  The only way to keep government halfway sane is to throw the bums out as regularly as possible, and that requires a credible opposition party.

Today, a major reason America is in such a sorry state is that one of our major parties is treasonous. What else can you say about a party that wants to allow our mortal enemies to acquire the most powerful weapons known to man; to intentionally hamstring our economy on the basis of pious fraud; to destroy all pretence of religious freedom; and to encourage a massive invasion of illegal foreigners the likes of which has never been seen in human history?

Which is why we are so very glad to see Bernie Sanders running for President, and according to latest polls, leading Hillary in New Hampshire.

Yes, Democrats Can Be American Too

Scragged readers know that we are not overly fond of any Democratic president, from FDR to Bill Clinton.

For all his economic faults, however, there's no question that President Roosevelt did what he thought (mistakenly) would help Americans climb out of the Depression.  When it came time to defend America from foreign attack, no Republican could have fought with more determination than Mr. Roosevelt.

Similarly, Mr. Kennedy was a bad and dishonest man in private and critically incompetent at foreign affairs.  But he, too, held America dear in his heart, doing his best to make it a better, wealthier, and more powerful place.

Even Bill Clinton has America as a high priority.  It's not the top of his list, quite, but American is certainly a close second after himself.

When he realized things weren't working in America, like guaranteed welfare, he was willing to try a different approach even though it ran against the beliefs of the rest of his party.  Also, he never pretended to be anything he wasn't - he claimed to be a centrist Democrat, and by modern standards, that's how he governed.

Bernie Sanders is cut from a similar political model.  First and foremost, he is honest about his beliefs: although he generally votes with the Democrats, he has always run as a Socialist, not as a Democrat.  Would that the rest of his party were so honest!

He also speaks out vigorously when a Democratic policy is bad for American.  Listen to his words on open borders and illegal immigration:

It would make everybody in America poorer —you're doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don't think there's any country in the world that believes in that. If you believe in a nation state or in a country called the United States or UK or Denmark or any other country, you have an obligation in my view to do everything we can to help poor people. What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don't believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.

You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you're a white high school graduate, it's 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids?

I think from a moral responsibility we've got to work with the rest of the industrialized world to address the problems of international poverty, but you don't do that by making people in this country even poorer.

You may be thinking, wait a second - open borders is a right wing proposal?  What has Bernie been smoking?

Sad to say, he's correct.  The Chamber of Commerce and business types, generally financial supporters of Republicans, do in fact support open borders, just as Bernie says they do, and for the reasons he claims: they push down wages for everybody and increase profits for the rich.  That's why we can never get traction on deporting them even from Republicans - their paymasters don't want them to.

Bernie knows that today's illegal immigrants are tomorrow's undocumented Democrats.  He doesn't care: he knows they are bad for poor Americans, who are his first priority.  That's admirable, honorable, very American, and totally alien to the vast majority of today's Democratic politicians.  FDR would understand perfectly.

My Neighbor, My Brother

This contrarian, fact-based stance gives us reason for hope from a President Sanders, as unlikely as that may be: He can go against his fellow Democrats and he can learn from reality.

Why does this matter, when he's a Socialist, a creed as thoroughly disproved as any in history?  Because in his world of Vermont, Socialism actually works, sort of, and it's not the only place where this is true.

Since WWII, Europe has been significantly more socialist than the United States, nowhere more so than the Scandinavian countries.  These countries had tax rates far higher than half your income; in extreme cases, Sweden's marginal tax rate could be more than your income.

Even in today's degraded America, that would lead to revolution.  In Sweden, it created some sparks and satire, but most Swedes approved.  They didn't mind paying high taxes because they knew that the money was used to take care of their fellow Swedes.

That's getting less true: over the past decade, the Scandinavian countries have elected right-wing governments which have cut taxes, cut welfare, cut benefits, and cut government in general.  They're still much more generous than in America but a great deal less so than they were.

How was Scandinavia similar to Bernie Sander's home state of Vermont, in a way that it isn't anymore?  The answer is the profoundly politically incorrect word: homogeneity.

Until around the turn of the millennium, Scandinavian countries were almost exclusively populated by, well, Scandinavians.  Everybody in Sweden spoke Swedish, had Swedish parents, ate lutefisk, and celebrated St. Lucia's Day.  On Christmas Eve, more than half the population of the country tuned into the same Donald Duck cartoon rerun, which has been broadcast nearly unchanged, at the same time, for half a century.

Under these conditions, it's easy to see how Swedes would be more agreeable to high social-welfare taxes: their neighbor really was their brother, or at least acted like it.

All this started to change twenty years ago.  For the first time in its history, the Scandinavian countries began accepting immigrants of a profoundly different culture: Muslims and Africans.

Today, also for the first time in its history, Scandinavia suffers from the social pathologies so familiar in the West.  Swedish police have officially mapped 55 no-go zones under the control of criminal gangs where police can't go.  The violence and barbarism doesn't stay confined to these areas, of course: recently, two people were murdered by Muslim asylum seekers in an Ikea, with a knife grabbed off the display counter!  So much for gun control - Ikea has stopped selling knives.  Are rolling pins next?

Suddenly, instead of their tax dollars being spent on their blond neighbors, Swedish workers see their tax money going to uncivilized barbarians who are ruining their beautiful cities.  Is it any wonder they're no longer happy to shell out for the upkeep of predators?

The state of Vermont is very much like the Scandinavia of thirty years ago - even more so as Vermont has no big cities.  In nearly every town in Vermont, you can count the foreigners on the fingers of one foot.  There aren't even that many people who have moved in from other states, let alone further afield.

The people of Vermont, day to day, think of their neighbors as, well, neighbors.  When Bernie Sanders is holding town halls, knocking on doors, and meeting with his constituents, this is the attitude he hears.  Vermonters care about each other because they are much like each other.  This social cohesion allows socialism to work, to a degree, though not even Vermont was able to afford a single-payer health system.

Bernie recognizes the difference: witness his un-Democrat-like opposition to open-borders illegal immigration.  He takes a page from a speech by Milton Friedman, who said:

It is one thing to have free immigration to jobs. It is another to have free immigration to welfare. And you cannot have both.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, like patriotic Democrats of days gone by, is concerned about Americans first and foremost.  He's concerned about good jobs for them.  He's worried about competition from aliens who don't obey our laws.  Unlike most of his peers, he has direct personal experience living in a place which doesn't have most of those problems so he knows how it's 'sposed to be.

We don't think a President Sanders' policy prescriptions would be right for America.  For one thing, we're too far gone in multiculturalism; it would take a century of zero immigration and an aggressive process of deportation combined with Americanization to get us back to the unity of the 1940s, which might allow for widespread support for European-style socialism.

There is still a profound chasm between him and his party peers.  Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton either don't know that we don't have enough unity for socialism to work, or more likely, they know and don't care.  They're concerned about their own personal power and nothing else.

Sen. Sanders actually wants to serve the people of these United States.  The Democratic Party needs more leaders with this attitude, and America needs a Democratic Party where that sort of leader can be successful.

We don't particularly want to see Mr. Sanders in the Oval Office - though we'd vastly prefer him over (shudder) Hillary - but we'd gladly cheer him on to victory in the Democratic primary.  Depending on who wins on the Republican side, we might see the ultimate of "bold colors" political contests between hawkish libertarianism and Euro-socialism.  "A Time for Choosing," indeed!

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments

Compelling analysis. This:

"What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them."

Is not quiiittte... right, I don't think.

It's more a business thing, not a right/left wing thing. If you're a businessman who owns labor-heavy businesses, you see illegal immigration the same way the Arabs of Dubai see it - cheap labor. What's not to like.

I don't think the right or left, politically speaking, see illegal immigration as a matter of labor rates. To the extent they do, the right wing sees it as bad because it's taking their (and their kids') jobs.

August 17, 2015 10:27 AM
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