Bernie Sanders

In Quasi-Victory Speech, Bernie Sanders Vows Free College, End to Mass Incarceration

Some things for a libertarian to like, much to despise.

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Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders—who remains in a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton as I write this—gave a victory speech of sorts in which he promised to enact progressive reforms if elected. He stressed the need for the federal government to take action on climate change, make college free for all Americans, confront the greed of Wall Street, and reduce the number of people behind bars.

Sanders lamented that students are taking on huge debt in order to graduate from college.

"People should not be punished financially because they want to get a decent education," he said, to thunderous applause.

It's not surprising that this line plays especially well with debt-weary young people, who vastly prefer Sanders to Clinton. Even so, free college for all is not quite the progressive policy Sanders makes it out to be, since the beneficiaries would probably be wealthier Americans. And though Sanders claims a tax on Wall Street speculation would cover the cost, further government investment in the higher education system seems myopic, given all the problems and bad incentives it has created thus far.

Sanders' remarks about ending mass incarceration are likely to play better with libertarians. As I've previously written, it's undeniable that Sanders has a few genuinely praiseworthy policy positions: he has defended Edward Snowden's actions, condemned the War in Iraq, and opposed the excesses of the Patriot Act. He is certainly better on civil liberties and foreign policy than his Democratic rival and the three GOP frontrunners.

He's crazy on domestic policy, mind you. But who isn't?