Bernie Sanders has been gaining a lot of momentum over the last few weeks as many on the Left are not yet ready to crown Hillary Clinton the Democratic nominee just yet.
Sanders is a confessed socialist who hits all the right progressive buzzwords and slogans, stroking a populism that generally has a lot of success in American politics. But instead of speaking truth to the American people - as Ron Paul did, setting intellectual fire to the empire and corporate class, telling people what they need to hear - Sanders tells them what they want to hear.
Welfare, goodies, "free" stuff, tax the rich. It's all low-hanging fruit for problems that need to be struck at the root in order to be solved.
Money must not be our God, he says, as he plans to take it from you and centralize it in Washington, DC using the armed thugs of the state (he's for gun control for you, of course, but lots of guns are needed to enforce his will). Little does he know that the regulatory-welfare state is and always has been a tool of the political class, oligarchs, corporations and centralized power in general. Political power, no matter how pretty the velvet glove masking the the iron fist is, is reactionary and conservative against the decentralizing forces of liberty, markets and spontaneous order.
It is understandable to be ignorant of economics. Most, if not all, politicians are. As the great Thomas Sowell puts it, "The first lesson of economics is scarcity. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics."
It isn't Bernie's economics that surprises me, it is his other positions that scare me even more - positions that progressives are generally fairly decent on, like foreign policy and immigration.
But this is what I get for granting even a modicum of chance to a politician.
On immigration, Sanders sounds just like Donald Trump. Nationalist and nativist, Sanders preys on irrational anti-immigrant fears about them "taking our jobs," calling open borders a "right-wing Koch scheme."
Really, Bernie? Despite the fact that open immigration is good for economies, trade, peace - and, oh ya, doesn't involve the use of armed government agents harassing people and enforcing a police state - Sanders doesn't want to hear it. As Robby Soave, the author of the Reason piece linked above, puts it, "But for 'internationalist' socialist Democrat Sanders, hatred of the rich outweighs concern for the material well-being of the world’s poor."
Students of socialism/progressivism and its history shouldn't be surprised, however. The movement has always been nationalistic, xenophobic and fearful of immigration.
After Sander's conservative views on immigration hit the web, the Twitterverse was all over it.
Howard Lisnoff at Counterpunch details Sanders's pro-war voting record, revealing that Sanders voted with the Democrats almost 98% of the time. 98%! When Bill Clinton was committing mass murder in the Balkans, Sanders played the part of party loyalist, gangster and defender of the war machine.
In spite of claims of being antiwar, his “hawkish” support of Clinton’s military actions in the 1999 Kosovo War caused one of his advisers to quit. When antiwar activists occupied Sanders’ office in 1999 because of that support of Clinton’s war policies, he had them arrested.
On Afghanistan and Iraq, Sanders may have had some minor quips with how the wars were being waged, but made sure that they were fully funded and supported.
In 2001, Sanders did not support the vote in Congress to oppose the war in Afghanistan. Congresswoman Barbara Lee stood alone! This vote was followed by his support for appropriations to support boththe war in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2003 he supported the resolution that gave support to George W. Bush in both Iraq and in the larger war against terrorism, although Sanders has been a critic of the Iraq War.
Then Sanders supported only a gradual withdrawal from Iraq. When impeachment was on the so-called table against George W. Bush in 2006, he said that impeachment was “impractical.”
And on Israel, Sanders might as well be Hillary Clinton or Marco Rubio.
Sanders, like his Democratic allies, has supported Israel’s aggressive Middle East policies against Palestinian statehood. He supported HR 282, the Iran Freedom Support Act, which was similar to the resolutions leading to the Iraq War. Indeed, it appears that Sanders is even to the political Right of many liberal Democrats!
Under a Sanders administration, the Klansmen running Israel would undoubtedly continue to receive the same, if not more, support - militarily and financially - for their colonization, occupations, land-rustling and mass murder campaigns.
In fact, if Bernie had it his way, I am sure the Obama madness in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Africa would also stay on autopilot. Who knows how many innocents would #FeelTheBern of a Sanders missile, bomb or drone strike?
There is an unfortunate and horribly mistaken assumption that progressives are peaceniks or opposed to war. Maybe some Republicans wars, but on principle, the socialist mindset has always been about centralized state power, coercion and the militarized ordering of society from the top-down. Leftists loved WW1 because it finally gave them the excuse to run the economy and society like a chessboard. We planned in war, we can plan in peace!
But the rise of Sanders, like the rise of his mirror-image Donald Trump, is important because it shows that Americans are deeply dissatisfied with the status quo, know that something is wrong and are looking for answers.
Sanders and Trump are tapping into that frustration with great success. It is important that we see what fascism looks from all angles so that we can witness its ugliness and, most importantly, refute it with the message of peace and human liberty. Let the progressives and conservatives have the central government! The captain of a sinking ship is not the job for libertarians and those who believe in the principles of liberty.
So thank you, Bernie, for being another reminder of what progressivism/socialism really is: warmongering, nationalist, statist and an ally of the oligarchy.