Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders Minus War, Weed, and Surveillance Is Just a Shouty Statist

In order to achieve "unity" with Hillary Clinton, the democratic socialist drops most everything that made him interesting


Grumpy Californians. ||| Matt Welch
Matt Welch

Day One of the Democratic National Convention was an extended, multi-act drama centered on one main question: Will the passionate Bernie Sanders supporters, after coming so hard at the queen, hold their noses and unify behind Hillary Clinton?

Sanders revolutionaries helped chase Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Shultz away from the podium, made noise at a series of raucous demonstrations throughout Philadelphia, booed their own party's candidate with much more gusto than anti-Trump Republicans managed in Cleveland, received a tongue-lashing from fellow traveler Sarah Silverman and some heavy sub-tweeting from a captivating Michelle Obama, then finally got the hard sell from the candidate himself.    

But lost in the will they/won't they hubbub was a curious vanishing act. In order to make his peace with the interventionist, nanny-state presumptive nominee, Bernie Sanders had to drop or at least de-emphasize almost everything that made him interesting to at least some libertarians.

Here were some words missing from Bernie's speech last night: "War," "foreign policy," "Iraq," "Libya," "military," "defense," "surveillance," "Snowden," and "marijuana." He did talk about drugs, but only along the lines of "The greed of the drug companies must end." Turns out when you strip out the only areas in which Sanders is skeptical of government, all you have left is an insatiable desire to change people's behavior and spend other people's apparently inexhaustible supply of money.

"We have begun a political revolution to transform America," Sanders said, "and that revolution – our revolution – continues."

Sadly, as reinforced both by his speech yesterday and the pet issues of his hardcore supporters in Philadelphia, the beating heart of that revolution was never about the areas where the Vermont senator overlaps with libertarianism. It was about income inequality, a $15 minimum wage, banning fracking, and opposing all trade agreements—remember, Sanders has never endorsed one even in retrospect, believing falsely that international trade is a "race to the bottom."

Much hay was made at the convention yesterday about how the Democratic platform is the "most progressive" in the party's history. But almost all of the Berniefication of the platform came in the form of boosting Washington's role in the economy, not pruning its involvement in wars foreign and domestic.

"We have come together on a proposal that will revolutionize higher education in America," he crowed last night. "It will guarantee that the children of any family this country with an annual income of $125,000 a year or less–83 percent of our population–will be able to go to a public college or university tuition free. That proposal also substantially reduces student debt." As a Clinton delegate from California described Bernie fans to me at a bar last night, "They think they can get everything for free!" And now that fabulism is baked right into the party platform.

The grim fact remains that Hillary Clinton has never felt any pressure to tack leftward this season on issues of civil liberties and war. A Democratic Party emboldened on economic meddling and unrestrained in warmaking is a recipe for statism unprecedented in recent history. A Bernie Sanders who's mum on war and weed is just a prophet for bad ideas.

Related: What we saw at the Democratic presidential debate in Brooklyn.

NEXT: A.M. Links: Bernie Fans Boo Hillary at DNC, Bill Clinton Addresses DNC Tonight

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  1. …Bernie Sanders had to drop or at least de-emphasize almost everything that made him interesting to at least some libertarians.

    Only a fool would have thought those weren’t going to be dropped as soon as he was elected anyway.

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  2. As a Clinton delegate from California described Bernie fans to me at a bar last night, “They think they can get everything for free!”

    True…but newsflash, Clinton delegate…Hillary has been relentlessly aping all his free shit positions so you’re not really in a position to complain.

    1. That’s different. Clinton has to win over Bernie’s rube voters. Bernie pushed them too far to the left. It’s his fault Clinton has to lie to them now.

      1. Because she was not going to lie to them before?

        1. Well yes but now she “has” to lie to them. It was discretionary before.

        2. Those lies would be Trump’s fault.

          1. How can anything be her fault when every single news agency around the world says it is not?

            Clearly anything that is said against her is a conspiracy. She has not even begun to paly the women card or victim card which is being contrived by her allies in the media right now.
            It is going to be so obvious and ridiculous. Even more so frustrating as we watch the sheep fall in line.

            Zombies here now.

          2. “Those lies would be Trump’s fault.”
            I had a couple people linking to articles stating that everything Clinton has done didn’t actually happen and it’s really a 25 year long GOP conspiracy to discredit her based on their “visceral hatred”.

    2. She has no intention of following through on any of her lures to progs. I might be wrong, but I’m betting that when it comes time to implement the free-college gravy train, she’ll water it down into something ridiculous because a Repug congress won’t pass it, or abandon it and make some mealy-mouthed pronouncements about “hard choices” like she always does whenever she reneges on something she’s promised. She’s a whore; she only works for checks with at least 5 zeroes in them. None of the free-college-for-mah-brats crowd is offering her the kind of cashola she’s come to expect.

  3. Bernie Sanders was always a cunty candidate.

    1. Why insult us cunties?

  4. Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul both wear suits that don’t fit.

  5. They are all shouty statists. The quest for power requires it.

    There is no other reason for a sociopath to run for high office other than to siege power and abuse it.

    That is the whole point. That is why I was even concerned with Rand Paul’s run as he clearly bent on some very principled tenants of liberty and freedom which showed his colors.

  6. Here’s another way to look at this. If the tables were turned in some bizarro alternate reality where Clinton is the upstart candidate nipping at the heels of power and Sanders is the criminally minded, entrenched establishment candidate with a sprawling DC patronage army and a servile boot-licking media to cover any and all missteps, would anyone in their right mind expect that he’d behave differently toward Clinton’s campaign than she actually did to his? His entire political ideology is built on the idea that any end can justify whatever means. In such a parallel universe, Sanders wouldn’t have thought twice about using the DNC to utterly decimate Clinton before her campaign even got off the ground.

  7. “We have begun a political revolution to transform America,”

    Bah.. Ron Paul did it first.. Johnny-come-lately huckster..

  8. Turns out when you strip out the only areas in which Sanders is skeptical of government, all you have left is an insatiable desire to change people’s behavior and spend other people’s apparently inexhaustible supply of money.

    No shit? What is he, some kind of socialist?

  9. And so ends Reason’s brief dalliance with Comrade Bernie. Many thanks for the laughs at your musings that Sanders was ever something more than an old, bitter Marxist crank.

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    1. Well, if you only made $22k, your full time student tuition will be free!

  12. Not quite true. Bernie has been great at the very important work of calling out the bailouts. For the finance industry, that is. The auto manufacturers employ many hard-working Americans, and so their corporate welfare is actually a leftist cause. Ditto that of other heavy industry. And America’s hard-working farmers. And alternative energy is a matter of environmental justice, so their 1%ers must continue to be funded by us as well.
    One of the most interesting moves I saw Hillary try to make in a debate to outflank Bernie on the left (much more interesting than her identity-politics or gun demogoguery) was when she accused Bernie of aiming his guns too narrowly on the finance industry. She, she tried to convince the audience, was the one to make the corporate pigs squeal across every sector. But Bernie doubled down in his response, and that dog ended up not hunting. Interesting.
    There is indeed a bit of stuff said on the left about the current state of capitalism that would be interesting to libertarians. But Bernie, unfortunately, says very little of it. Nor does he bear much sign of the somewhat anarchistic radical who once denounced cigarette taxes as anti-working-class and belonged to a militantly pro-2A, anti-enviromentalist-excesses fringe political party.
    Selling out on weed and war is just the latest news. There are plenty of ways Bernie has become too moderate to be interesting to us.

    1. The left’s take on crony capitalism is that the recipients of it are the wrong people. That is all.

      1. Most of the NRA rank and file would take the cops’ side any day going up against a young black man with a gun. The ACLU is incredibly selective about the parts of the Constitution they defend; they downright attack others. The pothead activists couldn’t care less about drugs other than the one of their choice. And don’t get me started on the gays. Et cetera.
        I am not in the business of defending the left here; I simply find some of the common ground interesting, both ideologically and strategically. I don’t quite know what your point is in being so dismissive.

        1. I’m dismissive simply because while they occasionally identify the correct problem, their solutions are almost universally horrible.

          You’re talking about people who do not believe in property rights and that any rights you do have come from the government.

          As far as the GOP goes, they’re a lost cause. It’s turned into a reactionary party with no philosophical underpinnings other than flag-waving.

        2. Interesting formulation of your opening sentence. Why contrast the ostensible desires of a portion of an organization’s ‘rank and file’ to the actual actions of another organization?

          Other than the total inability to substantiate a claim that the NRA “would take the cops’ side any day going up against a young black man with a gun” that is.

          Tarring one organization via assumptions regarding some of it’s membership,vs. noting the verifiable actions of another organization is apples to bowling balls.

          IOW so far off base as to be evidence of dishonesty

          1. I have no idea what motivation I might have for said dishonesty, since I am not black, I am a rank-and-file NRA member (whose chief complaint is that they are not extreme enough), and you were obviously not paying attention.
            I had no particular interest in making any claim about “the NRA,” as you put it. What I was comparing them to, if you’d noticed, was not another organization, but leftists. The only organization that I mentioned was the ACLU, which was being compared to economic leftist in parallel to the NRA rank-and-file. If I made a mistake, it was in not talking about the ACLU rank and file rather than the leadership. But, like I said, that has absolutely nothing to do with the parallel comparison I was making between the NRA rank and file and leftists.
            Apparently you have some sort of special hard-on for the NRA (I do not; I only have one for the Second Amendment) that you bring up completely irrelevant points to conjure up enemies for them even when there is nothing of the kind.

            1. No special hard on for the NRA, I am a life member and also think they have not been as solid in support of our rights.

              But your comparison was between NRA “rank and file” and “the ACLU.” If you meant to say ‘ACLU members’ or ‘leftists’ then that would be another kettle of fish. But you didn’t, and I took you at the plain meaning of your words.

              Sorry, my bad.

              1. No, I never compared the NRA, or their membership, to the ACLU. I compared the NRA membership, ACLU, gays, and potheads each, in parallel, to economic leftists, who were the original subject of discussion. They were all examples of crowds whose imperfections I was pointing out in order to challenge the other user’s apparent lack of interest in common ground between libertarians and economic leftists. Perhaps that comparison was indeed inapt. But that’s neither here nor there; the point is that it was the one I was making.

  13. Anyone who can’t see that Sanders is a complete fucking moron is hopeless. His brain was frozen in 1969 and since then has successfully repelled all facts attempting to penetrate the ice wall that preserves his commie ideas.

    Why someone would try to court Sanders supporters is beyond any explanation except that they are so stupid that they could be convinced of anything.

    1. Sanders has spectacularly bad timing given the meltdown in socialist Venezuela. I do believe people are eating their pets there.

      1. That’s fine, as long as they are not burdened with having to choose between multiple deodorants.

  14. “Will the passionate Bernie Sanders supporters, after coming so hard at the queen, hold their noses and unify behind Hillary Clinton?”

    Yes. Except for the holding their noses part for most of them.

    Sanders is full-strength progressive. Clinton is progressive-lite. Trump is the progressive’s caricature of a conservative anti-progressive.

    Sanderistas are either too ignorant, too indoctrinated in the two-party system, or too afraid of Trump to vote for Jill Stein. A few will sit out because they were just jumping on the bandwagon in the first place, but the politically active will warm up to Hillary.

    1. The Sanders fans seem awfully pissed that they didn’t get the free shit they were promised. They’re blaming Hillary for that and I can see quite a few sit this out. They’re the types to break their own toys when daddy said no dessert.

      1. But they know they’ll get more free shit from Clinton than Trump.

        1. *High Pitched whine*

    2. Things Sanderistas don’t really care about when a card-carrying progressive is doing it: war on drugs, police brutality, bombing non-progressive people around the planet, abridgement of rights of free speech and association, abridgement of RTKABA, executive overreach, mass incarceration, sabre-rattling with Russia and China, etc.

    3. The one thing that ought not to be lost on Sanderistas is the GO Pee platform planks promising to lock them in prison for life and confiscate their bank accounts, shacks and jalopies for the tiniest sprig of weed. And for the females among them? Coathangers and sepsis from the pro-life-after-death fanatics.
      The LP should be in there harvesting a mess of pro-choice votes the way it did in 1972, 1976 and 1980… but I guess the platform committee figured illiterate people could disagree “in good faith” over whether the Constitution says “All persons born” or “All ova fertilized…”

    1. That made more sense than the real debate.

  15. Clearly this is the first in what promises to be an avalanche of cases wherein reason makes the argument to support Hillary. You all knew it was inevitable.

    1. This is the signal for GO Pee infiltrators to shriek and howl against the Jezebel while commie anarchists in libertarian drag prophesize that The Don, not the Jezebel, will certainly annihilate mankind if not stopped. Bookies, unimpressed are laying short odds Hillary Wins and long odds against the Don.
      GARY IS FINALLY ON THEIR RADAR AT 200 TO 1 AGAINST. This is still 2.5 times better odds than the Econazi candidate, but only half as good as Biden’s chances.

  16. Reason, I gotta hand it to you this week. You are bringing your A game to covering the Dem convention.

    1. What are you talking about? They teased a Jill Stein interview only to memory hole it. WHO DOES SOMETHING LIKE THAT?

      1. A MAN LIKE TRUMP!

    2. Only to hide how in the bag they are for the Demorats. But you’re eating it up like a sheep!

      1. Sheep chops, sheep sausage, sheep burgers.

        1. Mutton flaps.

  17. Will the passionate Bernie Sanders supporters, after coming so hard at the queen, hold their noses and unify behind Hillary Clinton?

    Jesus, Matt, are we not doing euphemisms anymore?

    1. Does she eat their heads off when they’re done?

      1. Well, see, that’s why they think they’ll be safe if they get behind her. Unfortunately for them, several sets of her limbs are double-jointed and have no problem reaching back.

  18. It’s not that he sold out on his few decent positions. It’s that he never really cared about any of it that much. If this guy still won’t disown his admiration for the Sandinistas and Castros, but is willing to endorse someone as hawkish as Hillary, it proves he’s just your average politician: dead set on his worst ideas, willing to compromise on his best
    His worst ideas were uniquely terrible, and in spite of his followers insisting he preached “love” he may have been the angriest and most hateful candidate around (of course to progs hate doesn’t count when it’s directed towards people who have money or desire to make more). That combined to make him possibly the worst option from both parties
    His legacy is making Hillary even less palatable for libertarians. In a way I suppose that’s a hell of an accomplishment

  19. Good points. When the LP was formed the homicide rate was high and Nixon’s war and prohibition enforcement had crippled the economy. Wiretaps were also prominent, but much of that in the Oval Office and Watergate Hotel. Historically the looter parties and intellectuals have been prohibitionists, and church and socialist outfits threw support behind sending men with guns to exorcise Satan from the proletariat.
    Now Bernie is looking like a bait-and-switch dodge to suck the callow youth of the land into the Dem soft machine by making some libertarian-sounding noises. Will they fall for it or will they compare platforms?

    1. We can’t forget Nixon Shock or the price controls. Despite our troubles it has been a long time since there was serious concern over beef shortages.

  20. It’s so inspiring to watch full-grown adults try to vote for Santa Claus.

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  23. some heavy sub-tweeting from a captivating Michelle Obama,

    I guess a trainwreck of entitlement, resentment, and anger can be captivating.

    Attract and hold the interest and attention of;


  24. I think we can count this one as an article on the Dem convention that doesn’t bash Trump.

    So, there’s one.

    1. They do have to show they are “fair and balanced.”

  25. This is the perfect time for Jill Stein to proclaim she is “taking over the revolution.” Call out to the bernie supporters and denounce him as a sell out, that those supporting him trusted him and he has shown it is more important to him to support the one person who was virtually against everything he and his supporters hated. She could be on the debate stage. I don’t think Johnson has the ability to claim them and encourage them to get on board with him.

  26. Well, this is the party that made “Love Trumps Hate” signs and then scheduled Cory Booker to yell at me for fifteen minutes. I thought he was gonna jump over the podium. Also, I think it’s hilarious how quickly the Sara Silverman’s of the DNC ran up to tow the party lion. I wonder how many phone calls got made last Friday by party leadership.

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  28. Much like obama, another bag of sour fetid gas wrapped in a suit.

  29. instead of trying to get big brother government to raise the minimum wage he should be supporting unionization and the workers can wage their wages themselves

  30. But Bernie’s pro-choice!
    He decides what’s best for you……a mere serf

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