Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders' Critics, Supporters Are Ignoring the Most Admirable Thing About Him

A restrained foreign policy isn't a weakness. It's a strength.

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Sanders
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Bernie Sanders—the man who doesn't even own a tuxedo—is having a good month. He's catching up to Hillary Clinton in national polls, has matched her in Iowa, and is ahead in New Hampshire. As a result, liberal journalists who previously regarded his candidacy as a lark—albeit a useful one for pushing Clinton leftward—are increasingly scrutinizing his incoherent economic policy.

New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait recently offered "The Case Against Bernie Sanders," which rests upon the candidate's assumption—incorrect, in Chait's view—that a complete revolution against the current political order is both practical and necessary. Chait also observes the following:

The paradox is that the president's ability to deliver more change is far more limited. The current occupant of the Oval Office and his successor will have a House of Representatives firmly under right-wing rule, making the prospects of important progressive legislation impossible. This hardly renders the presidency impotent, obviously. The end of Obama's term has shown that a creative president can still drive some change.

But here is a second irony: Those areas in which a Democratic Executive branch has no power are those in which Sanders demands aggressive action, and the areas in which the Executive branch still has power now are precisely those in which Sanders has the least to say. The president retains full command of foreign affairs; can use executive authority to drive social policy change in areas like criminal justice and gender; and can, at least in theory, staff the judiciary. What the next president won't accomplish is to increase taxes, expand social programs, or do anything to reduce inequality, given the House Republicans' fanatically pro-inequality positions across the board. The next Democratic presidential term will be mostly defensive, a bulwark against the enactment of the radical Ryan plan. What little progress liberals can expect will be concentrated in the non-Sanders realm.

Chait is actually glossing over a considerable advantage of Sanders' candidacy—at least, from a libertarian standpoint. Sanders has not vowed to expand the powers of the executive branch, he has not promised new foreign entanglements—and has criticized those favored by his Democratic and Republican rivals—and he remains a steadfast opponent of the Patriot Act and unlimited federal spying on American citizens. With the obvious exception of Rand Paul, Sanders is almost completely alone in this regard.

Indeed, it's worth recognizing that among the five most plausible presidential candidates at this stage of the campaign—Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Clinton, and Sanders—there is only one articulating something approaching a libertarian position on a chunk of issues: civil liberties and foreign policy. That candidate is Sanders.

One can argue, of course, that Sanders' sensible views on these subjects are more than cancelled out by his desire to impose higher taxes and cumbersome financial regulations on the American people. I would agree that the "bad" column outweighs the "good" column in Sanders' case, as it does for virtually every politician seeking higher office. But while there's little to like about Sanders beyond his praise for Edward Snowden and condemnation of military adventurism, there's virtually nothing to like about any of his rivals. When it comes to government policy, Sanders has signaled his preference for executive restraint on at least a few issues, which is more than Clinton, Trump, Cruz, or Rubio can say. He deserves some small praise for his stances on these issues, regardless of whether his liberal critics view them as a weakness.

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  1. Finally, a mainstream pundit who gets it.

    Hint: Link is not to Reason, the National Review or Huffington Post.

    1. Another hint: What if you stopped calling yourself a conservative and instead just promised to make America great again? What if you dropped all this leftover 19th-century piety about the free market and promised to fight the elites who were selling out American jobs? What if you just stopped talking about reforming Medicare and Social Security and instead said that the elites were failing to deliver better health care at a reasonable price? What if, instead of vainly talking about restoring the place of religion in society ? something that appeals only to a narrow slice of Middle America ? you simply promised to restore the Middle American core ? the economic and cultural losers of globalization ? to their rightful place in America? What if you said you would restore them as the chief clients of the American state under your watch, being mindful of their interests when regulating the economy or negotiating trade deals?

      1. Why, if you did all that, I’d say you were doing a damn fine impersonation of Il Douche himself, Donald “Benito Was A Loser, My Trains Will Be Yuuuugely More On Time” Trump.

        1. What if it were *not* Judge Nap?

          1. Whatever happened to him? What if he stopped writing for reason? How would we imitate his distrinctive style of article then?

    2. Question: Who was the last person the Democratic party nominated for the presidency who was not a member of the Democratic party?

      Since no one knows who O’Malley is, despite being #3 in Democratic polling, we KNOW without question that, barring her death, Hillary will be the Democrat nominee. Bernie is a lot of things, but, he isn’t a democrat and votes or not, they aren’t going to nominate him.

      1. Bernie is cleaning house. He’s the only politician anyone has ever seen that isn’t full of shit. Its a freaking phenomenon. The Dowager Clinton is reeling, and has just suspected her predicament. Heads are exploding behind every anchor desk in the country. They might be laughing at or worshipping Trump, but they and their bosses fear Bernie like Death.

        1. Clinton and Trump are both pathetic but I’m afraid I have some bad news for you: Bernie is full of shit. Either that or incredibly stupid. Take your pick.

  2. Here we go, the rationalizations for endorsing Bernie over Trump.

    What’s the over/under on Bernie supporting Reason contributors in November?

    1. You got it bud. One only has to follow this site for a short while to see the general MO. Dems are well-meaning but wrong on economics but are right on other stuff. Reps, even when we agree with them, have impure motives and are generally the devil. They may make an attempt at being even handed but that’s window dressing for the most part. The correct approach would be to consistently point out that both major parties suck balls equally, albeit for mostly different reasons.

      1. Mostly different reasons? Let’s see.

        Both parties support the income tax. How many politicians from either wing of the Leviathan party support the termination of the income tax?

        Both parties support the IRS. How many politicians from the parties of state have introduced legislation to abolish the IRS?

        Both parties continue to support annual increases in the IRS’ budget.

        Both parties continue to support the TSA. How many democrats or republicans have introduced legislation to end the grabbing, groping, and stroking at airports?

        Both parties continue to support Homeland Security. How many members of the duopoly have introduced legislation to inter DHS?

        Both parties continue to support asset forfeiture. How many politicians have introduced legislation to end asset forfeiture?

  3. You can’t feel Triumphantly National as a motherfucking barbarian normal without tricking out your glory palpitations under an incessant goddamn gusher of war solvent otherwise resolved as the eerie dark red sticky shit that sprays and jets from broken mashed human bodies.

    Glom and Bow the leg hinges to the masters of ancient presentations. The lords of hell meticulously tap into the snarling relic of blood lust lacing the global MOTHERFUCKING brain.

    FUCK humans for resisting the paradise ethos! The strata of existences tangling the human consciousness struggles to claw its fucking way from the mires of repression lurking as mountains in the shadowed foregrounds of our political systems and ideologies.

    You can’t even fucking look anywhere without gaze resting on hell somewhere.

  4. Liberals want to reduce inequality? Haha ok

  5. Is there a single picture of Bernie that doesn’t look like an aide just wiped away the drool from the corner of his mouth?

    The man strikes me as disturbingly senile. He hasn’t said anything about foreign policy because he can’t remember it exists.

    1. He hasn’t said anything about foreign policy because it doesn’t fit into his message of class envy.

      1. So he’s in the “socialism in one country” camp. Wouldn’t that make him more a Stalin than a Trotsky?

        1. What’s the term for someone who’s both a nationalist AND a socialist? “Social Nationalist”?

          1. Reason commenters.

          2. I don’t think he’s a nationalist.

            1. Nor is he a socialist. He’s a social democrat, but usefully calls himself a socialist since this is how his opponents would characterize him anyway.

              1. Pretty good description. I just call him an earnest public servant.

      2. Hint – if your first phrase is complete bullshit – nevermind….

  6. Sanders has not vowed to expand the powers of the executive branch, he has not promised new foreign entanglements?and has criticized those favored by his Democratic and Republican rivals?and he remains a steadfast opponent of the Patriot Act and unlimited federal spying on American citizens.

    So we’re taking the candidate at his word. It’s 2008 all over again here at Reason, isn’t it?

    1. I guess you could check his Senate voting record.

      1. Sure, and I will read the tea leaves, and we’ll see* which one is more accurate. How someone voted as Senator is not necessarily a good predictor of how they will act as President. You know, the two offices being vastly different, and all.

        * = God I hope not

      2. Yes – his 40 year voting record. You know what Mrs. Clinton’s two pieces of ammunition against Bernie are?

        1) a handful of votes that are not “Liberal Gospel” on guns (the manufacturer liability thing, Brady bill,…)
        2) an article about human sexuality and “Rape Culture” that he wrote in college.

        Bernie is going to be the Democratic nominee, and I can’t see any of the fools scrumming for the GOP slot beating him. I suspect Kasich is being reserved as the one that hasn’t blown his chances yet by talking, and I do think he might be the one that is eventually the R nominee.

  7. he has not promised new foreign entanglements

    Nor has he promised to get out of the ones we’re already ass-deep in. The only message i can get from him is that we need to get other people involved in the bombing and droning. Well, that’s much better, isn’t it?

    The best case to be made for Bernie is that he insures 4 years of total gridlock and political fighting.

    1. Yes he has. Pay more attention.

  8. “there is only one articulating something approaching a libertarian position on a chunk of issues: civil liberties and foreign policy. That candidate is Sanders.”

    Bernie Sanders on civil liberties (from Berniesanders.com) – a sample of his positions

    “we must overturn, through a constitutional amendment, the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision as well as the Buckley v. Valeo decision.”

    So, no First Amendment rights for corporations, and no right for a candidate to use his own money to finance his campaign.

    “We must prevent employers from discriminating against applicants based on criminal history by “banning the box.””

    So no freedom of association.

    “Incredibly, almost all of the Republicans in the Senate are in favor of giving any employer who provides health insurance, or any insurance company, the ability to deny coverage for contraception or any other kind of procedure if the employer had a “moral” objection to it. That is unacceptable.”

    So no religious freedom.

    “As President, Sen. Sanders will…Veto any legislation that purports to “protect” religious liberty at the expense of others’ rights.”

    OK, we get it, no religious freedom.

    1. Yikes

    2. This is what I was thinking. I mean sure, we lose out on rights, add taxes that will decimate the economy, get rid of that silly notion of private property and the private, but hey we won’t have any more conflicts. This article’s premise about picking a candidate for one tiny issue and ignore all their stances on everything else is the reason we have Trump with his immigration talk.

    3. Oh my – that’s how you see things? Damn – if I have a couple million dollars I could make you my slave in a half-hour.

  9. while there’s little to like about Sanders beyond his praise for Edward Snowden and condemnation of military adventurism, there’s virtually nothing to like about any of his rivals.

    So Robbie, the “libertarian” finds the self-described Socialist as better than all the other candidates? Talk about support for “Free Markets”!

    1. “We never claimed he was a *perfect* candidate!”

  10. Well, if Bernie ever gets in power we’ll be too poor to fight any wars, so there’s that.

    1. That’s the magic of progressiveical economics: you’re never to poor to do *anything*.

      Not enough money in the Treasury to pay for the welfare state? *POOF* Money!

      1. You are on drugs. Politicians of both money parties fight 5 trillion-dollar wars with YOUR Social Security…and there IS no welfare state after Bill Clinton. YOUR politicians, in response, call for the dismantling of Social Security, and giving a freer rein to the same overstuffed usurpers in whose interests it as robbed in the first place.

        ,Bernie’s proposals put the economy on a human scale, puts the government in OUR HANDS, and keeps it strong enough to crush any billionaire troll, fattened on Chinese casino money, that feels entitled to make us bomb Gaza at his whim.

  11. Indeed, it’s worth recognizing that among the five most plausible presidential candidates at this stage of the campaign?Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Clinton, and Sanders?there is only one articulating something approaching a libertarian position on a chunk of issues: civil liberties and foreign policy. That candidate is Sanders.

    And here we see the results of allowing someone with severe brain damage to write for one’s publication.

    Bernie Sanders has articulated absolutely nothing that comes anywhere near a libertarian stance on anything. Every position, every statement, every goal the man has centers on expanding the power of the state and it’s control over the citizen. He states this plainly over and over.

    To ignore this indicates that large chunks of cerebrum are home to writhing masses of maggots.

    Why is it so hard to for the writers at reason to understand that it is not possible to support the rights of the individual from a leftist position? That by it’s very nature the left abrogates those rights as it’s first principle?

    Any time a socialist–of any flavor–makes a statement that sounds as if they support individual freedom the rational being understands that the socialist is allowing that the State will bestow the ability to engage in this ‘freedom’ to those it favors, so it is best to curry favor with the agent of the State who is speaking……or else.

    wake the fuck up.

  12. Bernie Sanders: He won’t Give you a Reach Around?

    That kind of sums up the specter of his presidency. Yeah, you’re getting fucked, but….

    1. Wait, isn’t not getting a reach-around a bad thing?

  13. Is it weird to not own a tux? I sure as hell don’t.

    1. Yea my thought as well

    2. Sanders flies coach, takes greyhound – has a personal wealth of about $700,000. He know what human life is like, unlike Clinton, and every other millionaire or billionaire running this year.

  14. Whether or not Sanders would have the ability to implement his economic policies is not so much a concern of mine. What concerns me more is that if he’s elected it’s an indication that a good number of voters find those policies attractive.

    1. Progressives with no sense of responsibility find him appealing…free chit. Ironically they call others selfish

  15. Last time libertarians jumped on board the progressive bandwagon we got Barack Fucking Hussein Obama. Think a little this time.

    1. Last time libertarians jumped on board the progressive bandwagon we got Barack Fucking Hussein Obama. Think a little this time.

      Some libertarians wanted either to punish the republicans for the wars in the Middle East, or the folly of a black president. And IIRC, the LP was offering up Bob Barr.

  16. That might be what he’s promising, but in history, how many totalitarian socialists like Sanders don’t meddle in other countries?

    Granted, the biggest socialist bogey man is usually the US, so I’m not sure who he will pick. France? Worked in Death Race 2000

    1. “Totalitarian”? Do you understand the meaning of that word? Bernie is a Democratic Socialist, just like FDR, and basically Dwight D. Eisenhower. Ever hear of the “Interstate Highway System”? That was Ike’s.

  17. I like this article – Libertarians SHOULD support Bernie Sanders. Your focus on Bernie’s lack of interest in foreign entanglements is entirely accurate – he is aware that wars are created for the profit of powerful corporations, at the expense of the nation’s people, just as you guys are. He would seem to be a Libertarian’s natural candidate.

    Sadly – Libertarianism has a blind spot when it comes to the oppressive activities of these same powerful corporations within our own borders, and the economic colonization that is instantly made possible when one citizen or entity claims ownership of a vastly larger chunk of our wealth than most others possess. This blind spot permits laws to be passed that rob the People of their common property and their liberty, because you cannot recognize that wealth is power. Bernie’s proposal is to unite a large movement of citizens to take back political control from silk-pantied fauntleroys that think they have the rights on our productivity.

    Join the movement that rejects the oppression of private fortunes on the private citizen!

    By the way – Bernie’s Universal health care plan SAVES families and employers thousands per year

  18. I cannot understand why a Libertarian would not at least want to see Bernie Sanders in the final general contest. Who wants to see a debate between Carpet-bagging Hillary Clinton and Billionaire puppet Marco Rubio? No truth will be spoken.

    You may have noticed that there are no “LIAR” accusations out there against Bernie Sanders…you WILL here truth from him – YOU may not like what he does with it, but facts will be discussed if he is present.

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