February 22, 2019

Bernie 2020

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said Tuesday that he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination again.” In the first 12 hours following the announcement, his campaign raised over $4 million from 150,000 donors. AP News

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From the Left

The left considers Sanders a formidable candidate, but is divided on whether he is the best person to lead the Democratic party.

“Sanders comes with the formidable muscle. He has passionate supporters who remain committed, years of experience in grass-roots organizing, and a political environment that has only become friendlier to his views since the last time he ran. And no candidate who can raise so much so quickly from so many small donors can be dismissed so cavalierly and quickly.”
Helaine Olen, Washington Post

Supporters argue that “his agenda is more popular than many American elites understand. Most Americans favor a higher minimum wage, higher taxes on the rich and corporations and expanded versions of Medicare and Social Security. The Sanders approach — progressive on economic issues, without much focus on social and cultural issues — is in many ways the sweet spot of American politics.”
David Leonhardt, New York Times

“Since his earliest days getting arrested for protesting segregation, Sanders has shown a firm commitment to advancing a progressive agenda. He’s someone we can trust: he has been ‘on message’ for four decades… He’s not someone whose ideals seem to have emerged conveniently just in time for their presidential campaign… Sanders [also] has an unusual advantage against Trump: he’s capable of effectively countering the type of nationalist populism that elevated Trump to office, by offering a more hopeful and heartfelt appeal to popular instincts.”
Nathan Robinson, The Guardian

Critics, however, contend that “Sanders’s words and actions have shown me time and time again that he is more concerned with boosting his image as a white savior figure of social justice than actually uplifting the voices of the communities he so direly pretends to represent… [given that] race, gender, and sexuality influence almost every single aspect of how we live our lives today, Sanders’s call for color-sex-orientation blindness in voting for president is not much different from potential candidate Howard Schultz’s claims that he doesn’t see color.”
Isabella Gomez Sarmiento, Teen Vogue

Some posit that “Sanders has a soft spot for Latin American strongmen… If he wins the nomination, Sanders’ old (and not so old) videos praising failed socialist experiments and tiptoeing around recent cruelties in Latin America will surely resurface, playing on a loop while Trump warns about the long-dreaded socialist takeover of the United States of America. This may be fearmongering, but Democrats dismiss its effectiveness at their own peril.”
León Krauze, Slate

Responding to critics on the right, many note that the reductionist rhetoric of socialism vs. capitalism “discourages people from engaging in a debate we ought to have about the right role for government… the Democratic Party’s liberal wing… often argues that the government ought to do more to solve such problems as climate change, rising healthcare costs and the widening gap between the rich and the poor… Republicans are free to retort that pushing the federal government more deeply into those arenas wouldn’t be helpful or cost-effective. But exploring these ideas is hardly a step down a slippery slope that leads to ruin — or Venezuela.”
Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right is critical of Sanders’s far-left policies, and skeptical that he will enjoy the same success as he did in 2016.

From the Right

The right is critical of Sanders’s far-left policies, and skeptical that he will enjoy the same success as he did in 2016.

“This time voters looking for a real choice in the primaries won’t have to toss a vote to a septuagenarian gadfly as their only non-establishment option… In fact, the rarity in this cycle will be a non-progressive Democrat in the race. Sanders can take that as vindication from 2016, but that shift in the Democrats’ trajectory means his presidential nomination is no longer essential to that agenda.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

“Sanders could run as being the more authentic advocate for left-wing policies that have now become more mainstream within the Democratic Party. But there's another issue he faces. In 2016, the fact that he was the only show in town for Democratic voters who favored more radical policies, helped him overcome the fact that he was running as an old, white male against a candidate who had a good shot at being the first female presidential candidate. This time around, he'll be facing a much more diverse field.”
Philip Klein, Washington Examiner

“Amnesiac pundits prattling on about Bernie’s ‘record-setting’ haul forget that libertarian congressman Ron Paul raised precisely the same amount of cash in the same amount of time a dozen years ago, during his own campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination… A radicalized Democratic Party has no need for Bernie Sanders; an identity-crazed base has no use for him. Bernie set Democrats on their course to the future, and Democrats have left him in the past.”
Michael Knowles, Fox News

Some point out that “left-wing economic nationalism might make Sanders attractive to the white working-class voters who cast the decisive ballots for Donald Trump in 2016. So too would the fact that while Sanders is reliably liberal on social issues… he is clearly not animated by them. The key swing voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin are economically liberal but socially conservative… [But] what might be assets in the general election against Trump are huge liabilities in the Democratic primaries.”
W James Antle III, The American Conservative

“The root of the problem is that Sanders is an old-school socialist who attributes primacy to a class struggle that crosses racial boundaries, rather than to race (or gender or sexual orientation) as such… It’s an odd turn of events when unreconstructed socialists are, in at least this one respect, more broad-minded than the Democratic Party. But it’s true, and Sanders will have trouble living it down.”
Rich Lowry, Politico

“Bernie Sanders is pretty much the exact same guy that he was four decades ago, running on the same platform. He’s making the same arguments for the same ideas about how America needs a socialist revolution… The collapse of the Soviet Union, several American economic booms, innovative technological revolutions, the fracking and energy boom, the alleviation of poverty around the world through global trade over the past two generations — none of them prompted him to change much of what he thinks about economics, politics, international relations, or society.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

On the bright side...

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