Bernie Sanders

The Sanders Surprise

How the sleeper socialist blew up the Democratic primary


Joanna Andreasson

Everything you need to know about the 2016 race for the Democratic presidential nomination can be found in a single moment in one of the early debates, when Bernie Sanders was asked for his thoughts on banks. His face creased in pharisaical rage.

"They trample on the middle class, they control Washington, and why do they chain all their pens to the desks?" he demanded. "You gotta break up the banks into little pieces and then flush the pieces down the toilet so you can never put the banks back together. Then you just make the bankers pay for college for everyone, and America's fixed!"

As Sanders spoke, Hillary Clinton shamelessly mugged crazy faces—until it dawned on her that the wild applause from the crowd was for him, not her. "Wait a minute, do you all like this?" she cried. "I'm not losing, am I?"

OK, that exchange only happened on Saturday Night Live. But that doesn't make it any less true. A self-proclaimed socialist whose entire platform consists of spending more money on everything and making somebody else pay for it has somehow broken into the presidential race, to the befuddlement of everybody—especially Clinton.

The 2016 campaign will long be remembered for its peculiarities. The role of still-not-dead Fidel Castro, whose revolution helped produce two major candidates—Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio—by driving their parents out of Cuba and keeping them from returning. The most amazingly trivial and profoundly useless act of pandering in political history: Carly Fiorina's declaration on the campaign trail that she would root for Iowa over her alma mater Stanford in the Rose Bowl. (Iowa lost the game by 29 points, Fiorina the caucuses by 26.) And the shocking performances of two renegade candidates who are barely members of their own parties, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Trump's popularity, though undeniably surprising, was still an amplified version of a previously observed phenomenon: America's sporadic love affair with belligerent rich guys, painfully unrequited since Ross Perot left politics.

Sanders is another matter. Embracing a political label that, outside a few mutinous congressional districts, has been instant electoral death for the past six decades, the independent senator from Vermont has not only renounced the political triangulation that gave Democrats all their presidential victories of the past 48 years; he openly preaches class warfare. Barely considered an asterisk when he announced his candidacy—The New York Times didn't even run a story, and New York magazine considered him significant only because he would "occupy the space to the left of Clinton, thus denying it to more plausible candidates, such as Martin O'Malley"—Sanders roared from 30 points behind in the Iowa polls to a photo finish so close that some precincts were decided by coin flips. (This no doubt confirmed Sanders' oft-stated fears that money plays too large a role in American politics.)

It wasn't until the Super Tuesday voting in March that Clinton really reasserted herself as the front-runner—and even then, what did Sanders in was not his affection for socialism but his problematic relationship with black voters. In the cluster of southern states at the heart of Super Tuesday, Clinton rolled up majorities of 80 and 90 percent among the large black turnout. Outside the South, Sanders won four Super Tuesday primaries—Oklahoma, Colorado, Minnesota and, of course Vermont—and came within a gnat's eyebrow of upsetting Clinton in Massachusetts.

"I was surprised at the numbers of people who turned out for his rallies here," said William A. Prezant, an attorney and former state Democratic Party chairman in Nevada, another state where Sanders did startlingly well, winning more than 47 percent of the vote in February caucuses. "You'd think his talk about socialism would be anathema to the rugged individualism of Nevada. This is a state with legal gambling and prostitution.…But he's tapping into people who are disaffected, who feel they've not had much of a say, who feel the political system has really become an economic system for people like lobbyists and political consultants who are an economy unto themselves."

While the remainder of the campaign looks distinctly more favorable to the former secretary of state, there are still plenty of scenarios, mostly involving indictments or health crises, giving the Democratic Party establishment roiling waves of off-the-record jitters.

Even if Sanders' candidacy flickers and blows out, the questions it has raised will remain long after November: Has the American electorate taken a sharp turn left? Will we start seeing Che Guevara T-shirts on the podium at conventions? Or is Sanders just one more political sunspot in an election cycle that has already given us a Twitter war between a GOP candidate and a murderous Mexican drug bandit?

Part of the answer lies in the Bernie-friendly quirks of the electoral calendar. Iowa and New Hampshire are home to some of the most liberal Democratic voters in the country. The states are also small, making Clinton's ability to make big media buys with her vast campaign war chest (twice the size of Sanders') less significant.

Yet even if he loses, Sanders has still shown he can attract around 40 percent of Democratic voters across the country. That's an amazing performance for somebody who keeps a plaque on the office wall honoring Eugene V. Debs, who ran his 1920 Socialist Party presidential campaign from the prison cell where he was serving a sentence for sedition.

Sanders is a guy who throws around words like oligarchy like penny candy, promises to stop virtually all U.S. trade with countries not run by someone named Castro, and thinks the federal government should set up "worker-owned businesses." He wants you to be able to borrow money from the government at the Post Office. And his contempt for the marketplace borders on the paranoid. "You don't necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers," he famously said at the beginning of his campaign, "when children are hungry in this country."

Sanders Socialism
What Sanders means when he says he's a socialist—a democratic socialist, as he's always careful to add—is one of the great underexamined questions of the campaign. Sanders himself usually blows it off with a breezy line that he's not Stalin or Kim Jong-un.

"Does anyone here think I'm a strong adherent of the North Korean form of government? That I want all of you to be wearing similar-colored pajamas?" he asked some New Hampshire school kids last fall. After they finished laughing—the inevitable response—he explained that "democratic socialism" is just a kind of friendly neighborhood clubhouse where everybody's welcome: "a government which represents all people, rather than just the wealthiest people, which is most often the case right now in this country. And it is making sure that all of our people have health care as a right, education as a right, decent housing as a right, child care as a right."

If that's the definition of socialism, it includes just about every Democrat who's run for president in the past 30 years, and a lot of the Republicans, too.

"I don't think Sanders is a socialist by any political science definition I've ever heard," says the Middlebury political scientist Matt Dickinson, who writes the widely followed Presidential Power blog and is a longtime Sanders watcher. "There are different definitions, of course, but they all include some version of government ownership of the means of production. I've never heard him say anything along those lines."

Jack Gierzynski, a University of Vermont political scientist, agrees: "The closest Sanders gets to anything that remotely resembles the government replacing the private sector is on single-payer health insurance, where the government would take over the role of the insurance companies. Beyond that, I've never heard any rhetoric from him about the private sector being taken over or the government owning the means of production."

On the rare occasions when journalists have really pressed him about his personal definition of socialism, Sanders abandons his carefully cultivated reputation as a blunt talker who eschews political spin. In an interview last year with Rolling Stone, a reporter asked about a documentary on Debs that Sanders made in 1979, before he won elected office. Because little film of Debs exists, the documentary made heavy use of still photos, with Sanders himself voicing over some of the union leader's speeches.

"Some of the language is pretty hot by today's standards," the reporter pointed out, noting references to wage earners as "slaves" who would be better off fulfilling their "great historic mission" to "overthrow the capitalist system."

"Those were [Debs'] words," Sanders replied quickly. "You're not quoting me saying those things." Though Debs' vision of "massive exploitation and inequality," Sanders said, is "a vision that I share."

"Including an 'overthrow of the capitalist system'?" the reporter pressed.

"No, no, no," Sanders retorted. "Now you're being provocative. If you follow my campaign, have you heard me talk about overthrowing the capitalist economic system?"

Also worth noting: Sanders usually delivers his speeches without a prepared text or even notes, mostly because he's been saying the same thing, relentlessly, for 40 years. ("Bernie's the last person you'd want to be stuck on a desert island with," one of his friends told The New Yorker. "Two weeks of lectures about health care, you'd look for a shark and dive in.") But when he talked to Georgetown students last year about his definition of the word socialism, he used a teleprompter.

Even taking Sanders at his word that he doesn't want to overthrow capitalism, he certainly intends to regulate and tax it within an inch of its life, and to put some of its foremost practitioners in jail. (On the first day of a Sanders presidency, he vows, he'll have a committee make up a list of who should be criminally prosecuted for the 2008 financial crisis.) When a Bloomberg Businessweek reporter asked during an interview if he wanted to say anything to reassure the nervous inhabitants of Wall Street, Sanders snapped, "I'm not going to reassure them—their greed, their recklessness, their illegal behavior has destroyed the lives of millions of Americans. Frankly, if I were a hedge fund manager, I would not vote for Bernie Sanders. And I would contribute money to my opponents to try to defeat him."

There won't be any need for a committee to make up lists of new taxes; Sanders already has a long one. A business health care tax! A Wall Street trading tax! Higher inheritance taxes and corporate income taxes! A new tax on oil companies! Higher marginal income tax rates and higher Social Security taxes! More than a dozen altogether, adding something between $6.5 trillion and $20 trillion to the country's tax burden, depending on whose accounting you listen to, over the next decade. The high end would mark an increase of nearly 50 percent over current federal government projections.

And that doesn't even count the taxes that make Sanders pant with excitement but have not yet been put forth as formal proposals. Like this one, in Sanders' campaign autobiography Outsider in the White House: "It is also time, high time, to establish a tax on wealth similar to those that exist in most European countries.…A tax on wealth could raise tens of billions a year."

Viewed from a certain angle, enacting all those taxes would be an act of fiscal responsibility—because Sanders will need every penny of them to cover the cost of his giveaways. His proposals would cost some $18 trillion over the next 10 years, according to the calculations of The Wall Street Journal—$15 trillion alone on that single-payer medical system with no co-pays or deductibles. That would raise federal spending from around 20 percent of gross domestic product to about 30 percent, which, if it isn't socialism, is at least a good down payment. (If you doubt that The Wall Street Journal can be trusted to do a fair financial appraisal of Plan Sanders, The New York Times in February reported that a panel of lefty economists estimate the price tag should be doubled to $30 trillion.)

A Sanders administration will resemble nothing so much as a cracked-open piñata, with free airports, bridges, college tuition, child care, preschool, and family leave, plus bigger pensions and more Social Security spilling everywhere. "In the Bernie Sanders drinking game," cracked a giddy Joel Stein in Bloomberg Businessweek, "every time he mentions a free government program, you drink someone else's beer." Not that his largesse is limitless. "You want to build a new football stadium? The federal government is not gonna pay for that," Sanders sternly declared in an interview last year.

When you start throwing around numbers like $18 trillion, even case-hardened tax-and-spend liberals take a deep breath. "BERNIE SANDERS RELEASES HEALTH PLAN AND IT'S EVEN MORE AMBITIOUS THAN YOU THOUGHT," gasped The Huffington Post in January, when Sanders finally provided details on his single-payer plan. Sanders' defense against these charges is always two-pronged: His ideas aren't as expensive as they look because in the long run they'll save money—by creating healthier Americans and smarter, college-educated kids! And anyway, who cares, because the tab will be paid by predatory corporations and their greedy billionaire masters.

The financial model of his health care plan, for instance, assumes it will mostly pay for itself with $10 trillion in lower medical costs over the next 10 years. And the rest will be covered by taxes on the rich-particularly people who make $10 million a year or more, who will be hit with marginal income tax rates of 52 percent.

Like so many of Sanders' ideas, there are some grim realities lurking beneath those airy assumptions. There are only 13,000 households in all of America that have an annual income of over $10 million, so even if you seize their gold-plated plumbing, sell all their polo ponies, and make their kids empty hospital bedpans, there's a limit to how much can be squeezed out of them.

Meanwhile, the idea that the government can run a health care program without bureaucracy will be news to anybody who has ever applied for Medicare or Medicaid. Countries that use single-payer systems cut their costs not through administrative savings but by putting the hammer down on doctors, hospitals, drug companies, and everything else involved in the actual provision of medical care. What happens when those people resist Sanders' attempts to cut their revenues by a trillion dollars a year? What if they refuse to join his plan and set up an alternative, private system? Will he outlaw it? Promising to horsewhip hedge fund managers may be politically costless, but Americans may feel less enthusiastic about the prospect of doing the same to their family doctors.

This glib disregard of troublesome facts runs through many of Sanders' economic ideas, sometimes to the point of outright falsehood. Remember that wealth tax he's so enraptured by, the one "similar to those that exist in most European countries"? A 2014 European Commission survey of the continent's tax policies found just three European countries with something like it: Spain, France, and the Netherlands. "Several countries abolished their wealth tax," the commission reported, "because of the fact that the taxpayers were able to move much of their wealth out of reach of the wealth tax." That is, when a government tries to seize rich people's money, many of them leave.

Often Sanders employs lines that sound good to his eat-the-rich supporters but have a tenuous relationship to reality. In Outsider in the White House, he declares in a shocked tone: "Ninety-eight percent of the daily newspapers in America have a monopoly as the only paper in town." That's true, probably even understated. But so what? The Internet has made nearly every newspaper in the world available to anybody with a keyboard, along with blogs and websites running the ideological gamut from ThinkProgress to Stormfront.

Print newspapers have withered away to desiccated skeletons of themselves, and the only thing that will be accomplished by attacking big chains like Gannett and Newhouse with antitrust cases, as Sanders wants to do, is to kill off another bunch of papers. The outlets that survive will not necessarily be any better for losing their corporate identity. No progressives were lauding the strong local ownership when William Loeb was using the Manchester Union Leader to call Nelson Rockefeller a "wife swapper," or when the Otis family ran the Los Angeles Times as such a labor-baiting rag that one local trade unionist dynamited the building.

Consider also Sanders' popular tax on Wall Street trading (or "speculation," if you prefer his 19th century vernacular), the instrument by which the rich will pay for everybody's college tuition. Sanders' definition of "rich" has always been flexible: He often draws the line at $250,000 a year in household income, which is indeed a lot of money if the household is in Farmington, New Mexico (median home price: $186,000), much less so in Arlington, Virginia ($552,000). When Sanders talks about raising the income cap on Social Security taxes, "rich" dips all the way down to $118,500 a year, the current maximum taxable level of income for individuals.

But the trading tax will reach down to Main Street any way you want to cut it. It will clobber mutual funds, the preferred middle-class investment instrument. (There are currently more than 80 million 401(k) accounts.) The Vanguard Group, a mutual fund company, estimates that Sanders' tax would knock more than a percentage point and a half off returns for an actively managed fund that buys small stocks.

The trading tax will also hit union workers, through the investments of their pension funds, as well as the very colleges it is intended to support, through the investments of their endowments.

Which brings us to the delicacy of Sanders' plan for tuition-free college. His funding plan makes no allowance for a crunch in endowment investments, nor for the probability that once stock trades are taxed, investors will start making fewer of them, which will reduce the money gained from the tax. And then there's another probability: that once tuition is free, more students will want to attend college, requiring more professors and more buildings. Once you've got less money than you expected but more students, the whole thing starts unraveling like a Kmart sweater.

And that's the fundamental weakness in Sanders' economic thinking, even more than his unfounded belief that achieving income equality is the constitutionally mandated purpose of American government. He has no idea how or why markets work, and he has no sense of their dynamism. It never occurs to him that if you tax people for being rich, they'll go be rich someplace else. Or that if you tax their stock trades, they'll either figure out a way to reduce trading—or move their business to Tokyo or Frankfurt. Or that if you stop paying pharmaceutical companies for drugs, they'll stop producing them.

In that respect, he's very much like the socialist planners who tried to remake the economies of Russia and Eastern Europe and Cuba and could never figure out why nothing they did worked. To the extent that they achieved equality, it was by reducing everybody's income to next to nothing.

Feeling the Bern
Leaving aside, for the moment, just where on the Richter scale of redistributionist economics Sanders may fall, what does it mean that he's won such popularity while bragging about being a socialist?

Nothing, insist some Bernie watchers, counterintuitively: His manic reception by the left-wing Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire doesn't signify anything about the electorate as a whole.

"I was around when Michael Dukakis was destroyed by the liberal label during his presidential run, and I don't think that as a country we've moved that far from 1988," says the University of Vermont's Gierzynski. "On economic issues, there's still that strong vein of economic individualism in this country. Even among millennials, it's pretty clear that they're more libertarian than liberal."

Berniemania among college-age kids—in Iowa, he won a stunning 84 percent of caucus voters aged 17–29—is more a matter of style than substance, Gierzynski and others argue. "Young people have never liked party labels, and that's even more true today," he says. "Somebody who goes against the party establishment is always going to be more popular with college kids."

Beyond that, Sanders seems to have inadvertently turned into a hipster icon. His unremittingly unmediagenic style—he usually looks like he just climbed out of a clothes dryer, punctuates his speeches with spastic chopping motions, and, if he tries to tell a joke, inevitably steps on his own punchline—is so inept that young audiences regard it as a sign of authenticity, an adjective used often by his supporters.

"I saw him at a rally in New Hampshire right after [dead-ringer comedian] Larry David did him on Saturday Night Live," says Middlebury's Dickinson. "It was literally the next day, and Sanders says, 'I'm gonna start with a joke: I'm not Bernie Sanders, I'm Larry David.' It was horribly delivered, but the crowd still went wild, because it was very Bernie."

In some ways, Sanders is authentically what he appears to be. He spent his college years at the University of Chicago in the 1960s, by his own admission kicking around with the campus communists. He washed up in Vermont in 1968 amid a major hippie influx to the state (though Sanders, who liked neither dope nor rock 'n' roll, was at best a fellow traveler), and he moved into an empty shack on some farmland where he cooked over fires made from rolls of toilet paper and lighter fluid.

From there he took a desultory stab at making a living. For a time he was, by all accounts, the world's worst carpenter, before becoming, by all accounts, the world's worst underground newspaper columnist. (The closest thing to a scandal during his presidential run has been the surfacing of a nearly incomprehensible old column that at first glance appeared to suggest women fantasize about being raped by three men at a time. On closer reading, it was a profoundly inept attempt at satire.)

In 1971, Sanders found his true calling, running long-shot left-wing campaigns for elective office. Among the centerpieces of his first, for the U.S. Senate: a demand that freeway on-ramps be widened to make it easier to pick up hitchhikers. After losing four such elections in a row, he won a fluky four-way race for mayor of Burlington by a mere 10 votes. Four terms and a couple of losses later, he went to Washington, first as Vermont's lone congressman, then as one of its senators.

From the start, Sanders has been prophesying the imminent doom of all America. "I have the very frightened feeling that if fundamental and radical change does not come about in the very near future that our nation, and, in fact, our entire civilization could soon be entering an economic dark age," he said in 1974. (That was also the year he warned that we were on the verge of a "virtual Rockefeller family dictatorship over the nation." Since then the Rockefellers have been supplanted by dictatorships of Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich, and the Koch brothers.)

Though Sanders has won his last 10 elections, there's been no groundswell of socialism in Vermont. Sanders left his tiny Liberty Union party nearly a half-century ago and all his winning races have been run as an independent. (He reluctantly joined the Democratic Party for his White House bid.) He has never attempted to organize his followers into a party that could fight for institutional power, and his three gubernatorial races were disastrous.

"There's a sense here of 'We love Bernie, but we love him even more if he's up there in Washington, rattling their cages instead of ours,'" Dickinson says. "Everybody loves Bernie, yeah, but it's not like he's here putting together a political coalition that will actually govern the state."

If that seems more like a personal ego trip than a serious attempt at building a movement, you're on to the big secret: Even Bernie Sanders is a politician who does politically expedient things.

"As mayor, he did some stuff on leftist issues that had symbolic importance, like working out a friendship-city agreement with some place in Sandinista Nicaragua," recalls Dickinson. "But on substance, he was largely pragmatic. He campaigned against a big hotel-and-condo development on Lake Champlain, but in the end, the waterfront was developed, with condos, though in a more aesthetically appealing way. When college students were picketing a G.E. plant that had a defense contract, Bernie had them arrested because they were preventing workers from getting into the plant."

Sanders is at his most nakedly political when there's a share of pork on the table. His fiery denunciations of Pentagon spending went mysteriously quiet when it came to Lockheed Martin's balky F-35 fighter jet, which has racked up hundreds of billions of dollars in cost overruns while compiling a sketchy safety record. Amazing coincidence: The first detachment of F-35s will be supplied to the Vermont Air National Guard and deployed at Burlington's commercial airport.

And then there's Sanders' yeoman work to attach a provision to a 1996 agriculture bill permitting Vermont and five other states to create a dairy cartel. The Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact allowed the states' farmers to fix the price of milk and prohibit outside competition. The retail price of milk jumped 20 cents a gallon in the first three weeks—it's a good thing no poor kids drink milk, right?—and an embarrassed Congress eventually repealed the cartel's authority. The unblushing Sanders, though, brags in Outsider in the White House that he walked right into the jaws of hell to get the compact approved, even working with, pardon the expression, Republicans: "We take it any way we can get it."

To get what he wanted, he even made peace with the demons of the National Rifle Association (NRA)—for a while. Sanders' breathtakingly Olympian flip-flops on gun control over the years started with him demanding the "abolition of all laws which interfere with the Constitutional right of citizens to bear arms" in one of his early kamikaze candidacies. (That was 1972, when left-wing radicals were still enchanted with the Black Panthers and other military-chic factions.) By last December, in the wake of the San Bernardino massacre, without so much as a blink, he was calling for the expansion of background checks, a ban on assault weapons, and making gun trafficking a federal crime.

In between there were a lot of squirmy moments. Sanders won his first congressional election in 1990 at least in part because the NRA turned against his Republican opponent for supporting a ban on automatic weapons, and he trod carefully around the organization after that. He voted against the 1993 Brady Bill, which established background checks and a waiting period for gun purchases. And in 2005, the man who believes corporations are the root of all evil voted for an NRA-backed bill that blocked negligence lawsuits against gun manufacturers whose weapons have been used to commit crimes. It's a vote Hillary Clinton has wielded against Sanders like an AK-47.

"The reason it's such a problem for Sanders is that it's the one thing that shows he's a politician," says Gierzynski. "He voted that way for purely political instincts. Voting to give immunity to the gun industry, when he's opposed corporations on so many, many things, that's not liberal at all. Not even close to it."

You might even call it inauthentic.

NEXT: Brickbat: Youthful Offender

Bernie Sanders Presidential Candidates Socialism Election 2016

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119 responses to “The Sanders Surprise

  1. Argghh! He’s NOT A SOCIALIST!!

    /rips hair and table cloth from table.

    1. YES HE IS!!! And good morning Rufus.

    2. Why did you have hair on the table?

      1. Pretty sure he meant hair-and-table *shirt*.


        And maybe I have a toupee. Ever think of that?

        My Hellos are reserved for the AM links, Adans.

    3. Correct by nearly every notion of socialism that exists (as he doesn’t not advocate for state ownership of the means of production), but he is very conventionally a Social Democrat, as one might discover it in Sweden or Denmark.

      1. Hardly. That fig leaf is so moth eaten your junk is dangling out of it. If the regulatory state decides virtually everything you can do with your property, it de facto owns it.

        1. Exactly this. The logic of the “substance over form” doctrine applies to more than just tax law.

      2. IIRC, Germany’s National Socialists didn’t own the means of production either, but they sure controlled them, and they sure as heck fit my definition of socialist.

        1. I’ve never heard any rhetoric from him about the private sector being taken over or the government owning the means of production

          When the government doesn’t OWN the means of production, but through coercion and special agreements, the form of government is defined as FASCISM.

      3. So many people simply don’t understand that a social democrat is one who believes in government of, by, and for the people. Social animals that we are need social systems. Money as the social glue is disastrous for our species.

        1. “So many people simply don’t understand that a social democrat is one who believes in government of, by, and for the people.”

          You’re glossing over the part where this “social democracy” system requires throngs of armed government agents to carry out the dictates of the central planners.

          “Social animals that we are need social systems.”

          Why can’t social systems exist independently of governments? Why can’t they be voluntary arrangements that people join and leave as they please? Why do these social systems have to be designed by TOP MEN and enforced from the top down? Most importantly, what gives people like Bernie (Grandpa Gulag) the right to determine which social systems are best and force them on everyone?

          “Money as the social glue is disastrous for our species.”

          People complain about humans’ love of money, but it’s really just a biological drive to pursue resources that sustain life. That’s what every lifeform does, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Ever since humans came into being, they have been trading resources in ways that make both participants better off. Why are such trades considered a bad thing?

          Also, if a desire to pursue resources is unacceptable, what would you substitute? Do you have some grand scheme to imbue every human with a desire to sacrifice and help others?

        2. “government of, by, and for the people.”

          Liberal democraty put some limit to the power that the ‘people’ (most likely the bureaucrats elite) can have on minorities, and the smallest minority is the individuals.
          Oppression is still oppression, event backed by 99.99 % of the ‘people’.

          “Social animals that we are need social systems”

          We are social animals, therefor we have a social systems, it’s how it works.
          Do you think that the wolfs need to create the concept of pack ? Did they invent that concept during the international conference of wolfs ? Human society exist since the beginning of humanity, way more before we create the concept of State. Guess what, at first this concept have been created to allow an elite to steal from the mass… Juste sayin’.

          “Money as the social glue”

          Money have never been social glue, money is an abstract concept facilitating trade and accumulation of wealth, we need that concept to evolve from barter and improve our economic system. I came to the conclusion that you think that Adam Smith invented the money ?

  2. for fuck’s sake, as they say. the real losses of socialized anything are unseen. The US develops high nineties percent of new drugs and if we stop doing that there won’t be any figures to compare. Of course the politicians in power want things to stay the way they are – that’s almost a tautology.

    1. You don’t need 200 kinds of chemotherapy.

      1. be that as it may, people having this discussion a hundred years ago (plus or minus) couldnt even have imagined chemotherapy, so I’m pretty pleased their utopias didn’t work out; we’d be arguing about rich people hogging all the best leeches or something.

        1. okay, okay. under true socialism we would all get the same amount of leeches.

  3. What Sanders means when he says he’s a socialist?a democratic socialist, as he’s always careful to add?is one of the great underexamined questions of the campaign. Sanders himself usually blows it off with a breezy line that he’s not Stalin or Kim Jong-un.

    He’s more of the national kind of socialist.

    1. I would point out that both Stalin and Kim Jung Un took over existing socialist states. Bernie must see himself as a Lenin or Mao.

      1. He does look vaguely like Trotsky.

        1. He probably does look a lot like Trotsky – the camera angles I’ve seen don’t show the big hole in his head but I know there’s one there.

    2. You know who else was a national socialist….

  4. I changed my mind,he’s a NATIONAL SOCIALIST.

    1. Yes, Bernie’s advocacy for policies commonplace in Sweden and Norway surely put him squarely in league with Lenin and Mao. Thanks for all the firm reasoning.

      1. Finally you get it.

      2. Either way, he’s an evil faggot cookie. Too bad we still don’t have people like Joe McCarthy to keep Sanders and his sort where they belong……..on a blacklist.

  5. He wants you to be able to borrow money from the government at the Post Office.

    Well, they are flush now after ripping us off for those “Forever” stamps.

    1. Can’t steal enough form the payroll tax,aye.

  6. “I don’t think Sanders is a socialist by any political science definition I’ve ever heard,” says the Middlebury political scientist Matt Dickinson, who writes the widely followed Presidential Power blog and is a longtime Sanders watcher. “There are different definitions, of course, but they all include some version of government ownership of the means of production. I’ve never heard him say anything along those lines.”

    How much production happens these days without loans? Might one consider capital to be the means of production in our modern society? In this sense, aren’t we already socialists, since government controls the currency and strongly influences interest rates?

    Also, Bernie decried the wide variety of underarm deodorants and sneakers in this country. Presumably that means he would like to do something to decrease that variety. Well, if government can prevent you from producing some arbitrary good, then government controls your means of production of that good.

    1. I’ve said from the beginning of Obama’s first term that he is a fascist, not a socialist, because he wants to control corporations, not own them. Unfortunately, the word “fascist” has so many “right wing” connotations today that I think this nomenclature confusion is not going to go away anytime soon.

      1. The rule of political and economic terms: Any political or economic term can have one of only two possible meanings, namely, “whatever I like” and “whatever I don’t like.”

        1. “Political tags ? such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth ? are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.”
          – Robert Heilein

      2. Fascists I think can generally be described as national socialists – the needs of the state come first, the state being the people as a whole acting through government. True socialists aren’t nationalists because “the people as a whole” includes all human beings and once the people are collectivized the state withers away, the government is replaced by little organizations everywhere all acting in the common good. (The common good will truly be common, everybody will have the same goals and aspirations simply because anybody that doesn’t get with the program gets shipped off to get their hearts and their minds set straight even if that means putting their hearts and their minds through a woodchipper.)

        Progressives are just like smaller-scale fascists – their “nation” is whatever identity group(s) they identify with. All the women, all the gays, all the blacks, all the handicapped – they all think just alike. If you ever run across one you think thinks differently, rest assured you’re mistaken because you’ve just met one who’s not a true or authentic member of the group. Clarence Thomas isn’t really black, Carly Fiorina isn’t really a woman, Lindsey Graham isn’t really gay.

    2. Capitalism is about owning the capital, not about owning the debt of workers and small businesses.

      Why don’t savers invest in businesses and actually take a stake in the success of capitalism. Invest in the small businesses in your town, and then shop at those businesses to prevent them from going bankrupt, making your ownership of capital worthless? Or invest in the local factory and buy from the local factory instead of buying imports so the factory doesn’t go bankrupt and you lose all your capital investment. Of course, to keep the factory or store in business, workers need to be paid enough to buy enough from the local businesses to keep them from going bankrupt.

      I grew up when Democrats were dominant and more leftist than today, and everyone had to be a capitalist, buying houses and cars with large down payments and fast pay off of debt. No one refinanced the debt to get cash out of their car or house, because the liberal economics was to own capital assets free and clear of all debt.

    3. Sanders NOT a socialist? Not in political science. Maybe in political science fiction.

  7. “Does anyone here think I’m a strong adherent of the North Korean form of government? That I want all of you to be wearing similar-colored pajamas?”

    Yet, given what he said about ‘no one needs 23 types of deodorants and 18 different pairs of sneakers” that’s pretty much what he’s driving at even if he chooses to not see it. What’s the *appropriate* level of numbers does Bernie think is “fair’?

    “…There are different definitions, of course, but they all include some version of government ownership of the means of production. I’ve never heard him say anything along those lines.”


    What does the professor classify “and thinks the federal government should set up “worker-owned businesses” as?

    Are these people for real and true?

    1. Worker-owned businesses set up by the federal government would be, in my view, more fascist than socialist.

      1. I think that it would sort of depend on how much control those workers have over the company. Of course, most such companies would probably fail quickly without subsidy and outside guidance. So I’ve probably answered my own question there.

      2. Yeah well, without getting too tripped up on labels and definitions I think we can probably all agree on what he means.

      3. So he’s more Stalin with a fascistic modus operandi than a traditional socialist one? Six of one, half a dozen of another. Either way, he should be put down as a traitor.

    2. “Trust me on this one, guys”

      Or I could just NOT vote for someone who wants to manage the economy and every other aspect of my life while hoping against hope that I get to choose what color pjs I wear

      1. Pjs? You think you’ll have pjs?!

        1. Maybe…….if he gives enough bi’s………to the party apparatchiks

  8. It keeps getting better:

    “Jack Gierzynski, a University of Vermont political scientist, agrees: “The closest Sanders gets to anything that remotely resembles the government replacing the private sector is on single-payer health insurance, where the government would take over the role of the insurance companies. Beyond that, I’ve never heard any rhetoric from him about the private sector being taken over or the government owning the means of production.”

    Bah. It’s only close to 20% of the economy. Nothing to see here. Whaddya worried about? It’s not like he wants to nationalize child care and education…

    Again, who are these professors?

    1. Again, who are these professors?

      You’ve got to remember that these are just simple educators. These are people of the books. The common clay of the new university system. You know… morons.

    2. Again, who are these professors?

      Sadly, they are fairly representative of the current state of academia, I think.

      At least they are being honest enough to stick with one definition of socialism, unlike some of our leftist trolls who bring up Denmark when discussing Cuba.

  9. “No, no, no,” Sanders retorted. “Now you’re being provocative. If you follow my campaign, have you heard me talk about overthrowing the capitalist economic system?”

    He’s such condescending puke.

    What he proposes IS overthrowing the capitalist system through the backdoor or other means.

    I know commie, Marxist, socialist lefties are lying, smart-alec, dishonorable, miserable, parasitical little scumbags with a secret love for totalitarianism and penchant for violence but come on.

    1. Heh. Remember back in 2008-2009 when Democrats took issue with being accused of socialism? Good times, good times.

    2. I’m not sure he wants to overthrow it. More like beat it into submission, hobble it and let it limp along for a bit as it slowly dies. Then he can still pretend that capitalism is to blame for problems.

    3. Proof positive that the fruit of reason is reasonableness Thanks for the holding to critical thinking, sound reasoning, and eschewing the ad hominem fallacy. You do credit to the giants of The Age of Reason.

      1. Pot, meet kettle.

      2. Pot, meet kettle.

    4. Why are people like him allowed to prosper? It seems McCarthy had things right back in the day. Let’s get back to that.

  10. Sanders is the poster boy for term limits. If he was only allowed to hold a public office for 8-10 years, he would have starved to death by now and we wouldn’t have to be listening to his abject retardation.

  11. So what is supposed to be the new front line fighter plane gets deployed to an Air Guard unit…in Vermont?

    Screw you, Vermont, just screw you.

    1. That was nonsense. The first squadron stood up was marine anyway. And the first f35a squadron is/will be part of the 388th fighter wing based in utah.

      Fighter jetz!

  12. I’ve been assured by some random internet commenter that in Europe, Bernie would be considered center-right.

    And obviously Internet comments are always true.

    1. It’s like Abraham Lincoln said: 90% of facts in the Internet are made up on the spot.

      1. that’s funny

    2. I’d believe it. That kind of “socialism” is pretty deeply embedded in the mainstream politics of a lot of European countries. The Conservatives in the UK, or CDU in Germany aren’t about to repeal their universal health care or shrink the welfare state. And those are considered center-right parties.

  13. Sanders is merely the culmination of the leftward lurch the Democratic Party has been on since Bill left office. If anyone “blew up” the Democratic Party, as Garvin puts it, I’d say it was Barry, under whom TEAM BLUE lost more House seats, Senators, state governorships, and state legislatures than at any point in the past century.

    1. You are exactly right. I knew the instant I saw, though I could hardly believe it, Obumbles tell Joe the Plumber that he was going to redistribute wealth, ‘spread it around’. He has only gotten worse since then and it has emboldened the closet commies to come out. I just can’t believe how many of the worthless fuckers there are.

    2. That and the final exit of the Blue-Dog Democrats. All that is left of the party are the ancients like Biden, Fienstien, and Hillary, the ancient and crazy like Sanders, and the victomologists – Warren, Schumer, etc…

      1. “Exit” = roundly voted out of office for supporting Pelosi and Obama

  14. Also, who the fuck is Glenn Garvin?

    1. You’re probably not old enough to remember when Dan Akroyd was on Saturday Night Live, but he played a character in a recurring sketch about a real cheesy (think ’70’s porno) gigolo who always introduced himself and the skit with a “Glenn Garvin……male prostitute”.

      1. Fred Garvin, if you please.

  15. “You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers,”

    Next he is going to tell us what we like.

    Really, who is so fucking arrogant that they think they are qualified to tell people they don’t even know what they need? This guy really needs to go fuck himself with a chainsaw.

    1. If you like your current health insurance plan, you can keep it.

      ::Many well-liked plans get cancelled::

      “Yeah, well, people aren’t supposed to like those plans.”

      1. I liked my plan. It provided mediocre coverage through a relatively large provider network for just under $ 250 per month. Which was better than the “platinum” plan now. And for a third the cost.

        Obama should be executed for that alone.

    2. He decries choice because choice is decadent. He hates the freedom of individual wealth because he doesn’t have the confidence in his own abilities to create wealth of his own through intelligence or effort. He’s a layabout armchair philosopher that has never created or achieved anything in his life based on that effort alone. That is a scary person to place near the levers of power.

      1. That’s exactly the sort of person you want near the levers of power. He has dedicated his life to public service rather than selling out to evil capitalism. [/progderp]

    3. Wait till Sanders destroys the auto industry then bails them out. We’ll all be driving the same $100k hybrid shitbox.

      1. Literaly the same hybrid. We’ll be sharing it

    4. You’ll learn to love your government issue sandles and frock.

      1. We had frock Mon, Tues, Wed, and Thu. Can we have something different?

    5. Strictly speaking what he said there is correct. We don’t need much. Certainly not deodorant or sneakers.

      At best it’s still a stupid and irrelevant thing to bring up and has nothing to do with why some people are poor.

  16. Sanders is symptomatic of the failed leftward movement of the Democrat Party. Their free shit programs have not produced the results they anticipated or promised. So their only plays are to either admit they were wrong and that they’ve driven us to an almost unsustainable debt or to double down and try to create permanent voting blocs by promising even more free shit.

    It will continue until the nation implodes or they find a war expensive enough for the rest of the world to go down before we do. But either way, it ain’t gonna be pretty since Team Red is allowing them to do so by compromising with them on every bit of spending that comes down the pike because they’re too shit scared to tell Americans that envy isn’t becoming and theft is wrong.

    1. President Reagan was a leftist Democrat, along with President GW Bush?

      The debt as a share of gdp was falling when Democrats were in the majority from 1945 to 1981, and then again when Clinton was in the White House. But the debt exploded when Reagan cut taxes and then when GW cut taxes, but never required that Federal spending be cut first.

      Obama has followed the same fiscal policies of Reagan and GW Bush: deficits don’t matter.

      1. Dead thread-fucking mulp? How tiresome…

  17. Oh no, not Sneering! Harumph!…

    1. Thank God for that reset!

  18. To the extent that they achieved equality, it was by reducing everybody’s income to next to nothing.

    Economic equality is the lowest common denominator. Which is kinda funny because the people who support equality through force are the ones who lament about a “race to the bottom.”

    1. They want to win that race

    2. This was always amusing to me. What socialists want is race to the bottom.

    3. Equality isn’t even a good thing or an admirable goal. Idiots like this conflate the fight for “equal rights” and “equal protection under the law” with equality, more broadly. Equal protection under the law is fundamental to justice and a free society. Equality, on the other hand, is (1) impossible, as there must always be some person or group standing above as the “equalizer” and (2) destructive.

      1. You can’t have forced equality and justice at the same time, because equality though force requires institutional injustice. That’s why proponents of forced equality invent terms like “social justice” and “economic justice,” to mask the fact that what the support is in fact injustice.

      2. Exactly. The pants shitting over “income inequality” is some of the stupidest shit I’ve seen in my lifetime? Why SHOULD everyone’s incomes be equal?

        It fails to account for the type of work being done. Why should a hospital janitor get paid as much as the surgeon who makes life-and-death decisions every time he picks up that scalpel?

        It fails to account for the amount of productivity. If Worker A calls off every week and constantly messes up the job, and if Worker B shows up every day and does a good job, why shouldn’t Worker B get paid more?

  19. Get ready for a rinky dinky pseudo socialist experiment. It’s even spread to England- Jeremy Corbyn. He wants the right to repossess private land, uncap benefits and cancel the nuclear programme. Well that’s what they say here

  20. Even taking Sanders at his word that he doesn’t want to overthrow capitalism, he certainly intends to regulate and tax it within an inch of its life

    Maintain the status quo, in other words.

    1. No, it can get a lot worse.

  21. Here’s where I’m seeing Sanders appeal (almost exclusively on Facebook mind you).

    I went to college with a lot of special snowflakes who got degrees in theater and underwater basket weaving and so on.
    Several of them said they would gladly be “starving artists” to follow their dream.

    Well now a few years have passed, and they got their dream. But now it’s all #feelthebern, and “my fair share” bullshit.

    I hate my generation.

    A lot.

    1. I have a sister in law like that. Being a starving artist with zero wealth or prospects looks a lot different at 50 than it did at 20.

      1. To be fair, capitalists of any area also follow this.
        I’m 24. I have little wealth, but I’m working. Hoping to own something sooner than later.

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  23. “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” -Emma Goldman.1869 ? 1940.

    Bottom line: It really makes no difference which clown gets elected, the deep state will carry on exactly as before.

    Or, “Dream On”?:

    “……In your dream, Donald Trump is not a fraud,
    In your dream, Sanders is not a fraud,
    In your dream, all the rest are not frauds,
    In your dream, Obama is not a fraud,
    In your dream, Reagan was not a fraud,
    In your dream, all the rest were not frauds,

    In your dream, the constitution was not a scam,
    In your dream, the Supreme court is not a scam,
    In your dream, 9/11 was not a scam”
    In your dreams, the war on terror is not a scam,
    In your dream, al -qaeda was not a scam,
    In your dream I.S.I.S. is not a scam”

    Lyrics excerpted from “Dreams [Anarchist Blues]”:

    Regards, onebornfree

    Financial safety &Personal; freedom consulting:

  24. “pharisaical rage”? Are you kidding me? why would you use an anti-Jewish slur in your story? Please educate yourself on the history of this word. Ridiculous

    1. srsly brah, cultural-appropriationing like whoa amirite?

  25. Bernie brings out the citizens who don’t vote 99% of the time because Republicans and Democrats are too right-wing and to center-right.

    He can win only when non-Democrats can vote in the Democratic Party primary. In the States with “closed” primaries, where only party members, whether Republican or Democratic, are allowed to vote for the party nominees or convention delegates, Bernie loses big, and in those States people who consider the Democratic Party too conservative register as Democrats only to vote in the Democratic primary.

    Independents who support Bernie should really organize to join the Republican Party and vote in the primaries for those called RINO, better yet, organize and run as the modern Teddy Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln, two Republicans who today would be seen as radical leftist.

  26. Nobody’s perfect. At least he isn’t a corporate whore….

  27. “”a government which represents all people, […] And it is making sure that all of our people have health care as a right, education as a right, decent housing as a right, child care as a right.”

    If that’s the definition of socialism, it includes just about every Democrat who’s run for president in the past 30 years, and a lot of the Republicans, too.”

    Healthcare, education, “decent housing”, and childcare as rights?

    What kind of Republican thinks even three of those are rights?

  28. Not to mention, there are many, many people out there with college degrees who cannot find jobs. It’s not because the jobs aren’t there; it’s because students aren’t acquiring the kinds of skills employers are looking for. So why is it so important to Bernie that everyone get a 4-year college education? What, to devalue college diplomas to the level of high school diplomas? Or is he simply charmed by the results that public schools in poor areas have yielded from too many students and too few teachers?

    There is a need for educational reform in this country, but it should really be happening at the high school level. Replacing 11th and 12th grade with a course for a 2-year degree that focuses on a specific skill set would be a much cheaper (and often better) alternative to students racking up tens of thousands of dollars on a costly 4-year degree. Most jobs require a diverse collection of skills for employees to prosper, not a deep knowledge of one particular subject. Save the college degrees for the students who really need it (PhD path, engineers, doctors, lawyers), and give the rest of the nation a good set of skills that they can take to the marketplace and make a living off of.

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  31. “You’d think his talk about socialism would be anathema to the rugged individualism of Nevada”

    Just goes to show you how misunderstood Sanders is. He is more of a practical Libertarian than a capitalist socialist. He is a “democratic socialist”. He thinks that what we do with our bodies is our choice. That includes prostitution and gambling and abortion. That’s all about “freedom”. And as for NV’s “rugged individualism”, that doesn’t include abortion, that limits the procedure to 24 weeks.

    And as for HRC taking NV — remember that Hillary delegates failed to show up at the county-wide caucuses. Even her alternates failed to appear, so that Bernie supporters were then used and he came out with more delegates to the state convention. The state is flipping, though we won’t know for sure until the State convention.

  32. A “democratic socialist” is just a socialist who is slightly less dimwitted and thus realizes that socialism can’t be imposed on this country in one Great Leap Forward, and is thus taking The Long March instead.

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