Counts Bernie Sanders as a Democrat
Bernie Sanders ’descent shows that the majority of Democrats do not want a left-wing Trump
His ideas are often crazy and usually without a chance. But they help his followers feel really good. As with Trump, this worked particularly well on large occasions. But a majority of Democrats now seem to want something else.
What do the supporters of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have in common? They are fed up with being sensible and accepting what is feasible. You want to break conventions, undermine certainties and violate rules of propriety. Instead, they want rough fun and wild enthusiasm, which is why they particularly like to flock to large events where they can enjoy feelings of happiness and belonging with thousands of like-minded people. And they love that their idol rejects compromises and relies on provocation. Reason and moderation - no, thank you.
Not in content, but in form
It is true that there is practically no correspondence between these two unusual tribunes in the political program. If there were, it would probably be the rejection of a foreign policy that is always based on military force. Otherwise, Sanders and Trump take opposite positions on almost all questions - as long as the content is at stake.
One thing they have in common, however, is that many of the things that Trump and Sanders demand or promise have no chance whatsoever. Here the wall that Mexico pays for, there the state monopoly on health insurance. Here the return to coal, there the Green New Deal. Your followers may well know that these are daydreams. But it doesn't matter. It is always good if you can use it to enrage your political opponent and frighten your own establishment. And both Trump and Sanders do that with passion.
How left is he - and what could he do?
Sanders is the only serious Democratic presidential candidate who does not want to reform the American system, but wants to revolutionize it. He takes the belief in the state that prevails in the American left to extremes. His bestseller at the political utopian fair is the state monopoly on general health care financed purely by taxes. Even higher education at public universities should be paid for purely with tax revenue up to the first academic rank. In addition, he wants to reduce the interest for servicing existing debts to finance the studies by decree.
All of this would of course lead to massive tax increases. This is not a problem for Sanders: he would not only significantly increase the tax burden on high incomes, but also introduce a wealth tax. And also raise corporate taxes and take action against tax havens.
Sanders ’problem is that he would already face a lot of resistance in his own party. Moderate Democrats fear that a nomination of Sanders ’as an official candidate would not only reduce the chances of a victory against Trump. It also meant that the party would fail if it tried to capture the Senate and instead could lose a majority in the House of Representatives. If it came to that, Sanders ’full-bodied promises would fizzle out just as ineffectively as they are without a trace.
But even assuming that the Democrats could also bring Congress under their control in the slipstream of a victory by Sanders, most of the proposals he penned would have no chance of being realized. Then, like Trump with his wall, he would have to somehow keep the fiction alive with his supporters that his favorite project was going forward while he was basically pursuing a different course that - at least in his own party - was able to win a majority.
Sanders should expect similar resistance in his own party when it comes to climate policy. The Senator from Vermont is a signatory to the Green New Deal, a bundle of radical legislative measures that aim to reduce income inequalities with state-controlled and financed programs on the one hand and promote renewable energies on the other. This also includes the ban on the use of fossil fuels by 2050.
There is a broad consensus among the Democrats that global warming is a serious threat. But how far the role of the state should go is controversial, especially among those democratic members of the House of Representatives who come from more conservative constituencies. The same would apply to the Senate if the Democrats were to gain the upper hand in at least three more conservative states. Without such votes there can be no majority.
When it comes to immigration, Sanders would have, at least in part, better chances of success, because he is in the mainstream of the American left. He wants to tackle the issues of cross-border migration in a larger, international framework and open a path to legality and American citizenship for the paperless who are already in the country.
When it comes to gun laws, Sanders is in the unusual role that he is suspected of wanting to maintain the status quo. During the election campaign, he was often accused of having given up in front of the gun lobby several times in his career. He tried to explain this with the fact that hunting was a very popular hobby in his home state of Vermont and that he was only representing the concerns of his constituents. Sanders meanwhile spoke out in favor of a general check of customers when buying weapons (“universal background checks”) and for a ban on assault rifles.
Sanders offers a considerable area of attack because he visited countries with communist or revolutionary regimes especially in the 1980s - like many leftists at the time - and, according to his own admission, saw more than just negative things. Some of the things that Sanders praised include the education system in Cuba or the free health care in the Soviet Union. Appeasement is of the worst kind to his opponents; in their eyes he ignored the outrageous human rights violations of these regimes. Greetings from Hitler and the Autobahn.
The accusation by association with dark figures is an effective means of political propaganda, but also one that works in both directions. Seeing something good in appalling systems is not a left monopoly. Many bloody authoritarian regimes - for example in Chile, Argentina or Brazil - have been attested to having at least committed themselves to free enterprise.
No memory of the cold war
How effective such recourse to the past is is controversial. What is crucial for Sanders, however, is that many of his young followers have no direct memory of the often dark years and decades of the Cold War, which made it very easy for brutal regimes on both the left and the right to get behind the geopolitical rivalry of the Hide superpowers.
Nobody can blame Sanders for ever praising the repressive methods of the regimes in Cuba, the Soviet Union or Venezuela. The concern about an authoritarian left regime under his leadership is thus artificially stoked. In a European context, Sanders would find countless like-minded people in his age group on the left wing of the social democratic party family. It is different in the USA. Here, on the right-hand side of the political spectrum, European welfare states are being castigated as communist aberrations, even if they were built or supported by bourgeois governments.
What does "healthy" mean here?
Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Donald Trump: It is astonishing that the three people who, according to the latest information, have the best chance of voting next November, are all over 70 years old. Sanders would be 79 years old if he were elected, Biden 78. President Trump is the youngest of this trio, currently 73 years old.
Ronald Reagan, who was "only" 69 when he began his eight-year presidency, had many questions about his mental and physical fitness, especially during his second term. His successor, George Bush Sr., was "only" 64 when he was elected. But the fact that he appointed Dan Quayle, a vice-president of questionable stature, who was "only a heartbeat" away from the post of leader of the free world, always caused a certain unrest in Washington.
Sanders seems energetic, and that's why it's easy to forget that he suffered a heart attack in early October that his campaign team initially tried to hide. He later presented letters from three doctors who confirmed that he was in the best of health. But since Trump presented a certificate full of praise during the 2015 election campaign, which he had apparently dictated to his personal physician himself, such evaluations should be treated with caution.
Sanders moved away from previous promises that he would provide a full bulletin of his health following the October incident. That would certainly become an election issue if he still manages to be nominated as a democratic candidate against all expectations. After all, Biden's mental health on Fox News and other Trump-related channels has already become the target of a real barrage. The reference to the campaign against Hillary Clinton, which was said to have several fatal illnesses, is obvious.
Nothing can be changed about the age of the applicants. However, the election of the vice-president is all the more important. Candidates normally only announce this shortly before the election party conference. More rarely, for example in the Bush / Quayle case, the candidates even wait until the party congress. Applicants may be forced to take this step earlier this time out of public concern about their health.
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