As we all enjoy the spectacle of the Donald Trump candidacy, the other big story of the election season is being discounted by the media and the power brokers of the Democratic Party. That story is the unprecedented rise of an unabashed socialist as a legitimate contender for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency. As I write this, Senator Bernie Sanders is leading in the polls in the early primary states. In Iowa, Sanders is beating Hillary Clinton by 22 points in a YouGov/CBS News Poll. The Real Clear Politics average of polls has him dominating Hillary in New Hampshire 42.3% to 34.7%. And the new CNN/ORC poll has Sanders trailing Hillary nationally by only 10 points. If Sanders is consistently on the rise, and Hillary is steadily on the decline, why is there a movement by the Party and the media to find another candidate?
Bernie Sanders is the junior Senator from Vermont. He also served as the sole Vermont Congressman in the House of Representatives from 1991 until 2007. Sanders has been a vocal and proud socialist for many decades. He was an active member (and sometimes candidate) of the Liberty Union Party in the 70’s. To this day, they define themselves as a “nonviolent socialist party.” Sanders has caucused with the Democrats during his tenure in Washington, but he’s won his elections as an independent who does not shy away from his socialist ideals.
Let’s look at some of his positions:
- The Economy — Raise the federal minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. Spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure work over a ten-year period. Undo trade policies (like NAFTA, CAFTA, and PNTR) that reward companies that ship jobs overseas.
- Campaign Finance Reform — Vows to nominate Supreme Court justices that will promise to overturn the Citizen’s United decision.
- Immigration — Despite his statement that an open-border policy suppresses American wages, Sanders is on board with the rest of the Democratic Party’s agenda… He’s for the Dream Act. And he wants to expand Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to grant legalized status to parents and family members of new citizens, legal residents, and even the quasi-legalized DREAMERs.
- Climate Change — He promises to take bold action to combat climate change.
- Wall Street Reform — He promises to push for legislation that would break up large financial institutions in an attempt to avert another financial collapse. Promises to audit the Federal Reserve. He was opposed to the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, and promises to reinstate the provisions that would prevent savings banks from speculating with their depositors funds.
So, if Sanders’ positions are shared by most of the Democratic Party’s members (and they are), and if he’s rising in the polls and taking the lead in two of the three early primary states, then why are people looking for another candidate to replace Hillary Clinton? Why so much anticipation of whether or not Joe Biden will jump into the race? What’s so wrong with Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee?
There are now two powerful camps at war in the Democratic primary cycle. On one side, you have the impressive Clinton machine with all of their money, political connections, and name recognition. On the other side, you have a retiring President putting forward the Vice President as his pony in the race. With Obama’s huge campaign apparatus still intact (now as a “non-profit” entity), and with money to spare from years of fundraising, he could back a Joe Biden candidacy that could easily end Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions. But why are the party elite not giving their support to Bernie Sanders? After all, he’s already running, has the momentum, and is poised to do well in the first primaries.
I’ll tell you why. Sanders is too honest. The Democrats don’t want to be saddled with the official label of socialist. Don’t get me wrong, the Democratic Party has moved so far to the left that they are virtually indistinguishable from most European socialist parties. The Democrats specialize in taxing some people in order to redistribute their wealth to others. That is the very basis of the modern Democratic Party’s game book. But they still don’t want to be called socialists.
When Obama was running for the Presidency in 2008, he had a moment of unscripted honesty with Samuel J. Wurzelbacher (dubbed “Joe the Plumber”). While explaining why his plan to hike taxes on the “rich” was worthwhile, Obama said: “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” It was during that same election cycle that Hillary was proposing giving every American-born baby a $5,000 bank account to accrue interest and to be tapped for schooling when the child came of age. At one point in 2008, she actually said: “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good” while campaigning to eliminate tax cuts. The modern Democratic Party is built on a foundation of taxing the upper classes and redistributing wealth to the lower classes. In exchange, they get life-long party loyalists. But… don’t you dare call them socialists.
On three occasions recently, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has refused to specify what the difference is between a Socialist and a Democrat. At first, she was caught off guard by Chris Matthews‘ question and simply refused to address it. But by the second and third time she was asked about it, she’d turned obfuscation into an art form. It’s quite apparent that the Party doesn’t want to alienate the socialists in its voting base. But the Party is not prepared to come out and say: “Yes, we really are just a bunch of socialists.”
So Bernie is being thrown under the bus not because he’s a pinko, but because the Party just isn’t ready to come out of the closet yet.