(OPINION) The Fallacy of Bernie Sanders
Contributor: Jack Carlson
As the Michigan Primary approaches, students across campus are pushing others to support the candidate of their choice. Bernie Sanders, it seems, is always that candidate.
The feedback loop created by his support has allowed students to rationalize support for him, giving rise to the idea that he is the candidate we have been looking for, one who is finally correct about everything.
For many students, Sanders is a miraculous, otherworldly figure, a savior of the healthcare system, and a redeemer of our college debt. The respect and awe with which they hold him with, however, is applesauce. The basis of his beliefs are weak, his policies the slippery in between of a solid mass of truth and a watery liquid of lies.
Above all, Sanders is a depiction of the dreary, unexciting, and contradictory reality of socialism. Before stealing from the 1%, Sanders has stolen from a history of failed policies. Among them FDR’s New Deal and Sweden. The New Deal, he argues, was a resounding success, but is also in need of “completion.” Through this, Sanders contradicts himself. How could a resounding success still be in need of completion?
Throughout his political career, Sanders has almost always been unsuccessful. Having served in Congress for 29 years, only three of his bills have passed. And, of course, there is his loss to one of the most unpopular Democratic candidates. Yet he has been more than successful in winning over the susceptible minds of college students, something that may matter much more.
By the time Hillary Clinton secured her nomination in 2016, Bernie Sanders appeared to be a sinking ship. The casualties of his campaign, among them the idea of “democratic socialism,” appeared to be put to rest. But for students across college campuses, Sanders had permanently etched the idea of socialism into their minds.
In 2019, Sanders returned. He began his campaign speech by saying our nation was at a “defining and pivotal moment.” Indeed, we are. Our economy, rather than being in a freefall as Sanders had argued in 2016, remains strong. The unemployment rate is at a low of 3.7 percent and the economy is continuing to grow. This time, Sanders argues, will be different.
Like many of the student advocates of socialism across campus, Sanders seems to remain a victim to its illusions. Though he attacks capitalism almost habitually, his net worth following his 2016 campaign rose to 1.1 million. In response, he said, “I plead guilty to having written a book which was an international best-seller.” Yet at the same time, Sanders pleaded guilty to benefiting from capitalism, the demonic free market he supposedly stands against.
We should ask ourselves several questions. Why did Sanders not donate all of his book’s revenue to those in need? Instead of profiting from it, why did he not use it to give to the thousands suffering from our failing healthcare system, or our suffocating student debt?
If students are to continue in their wavering support for “democratic” socialism, they must justify Sanders’ hypocrisy. The mass of contradictions and outright falsehoods by Sanders seem to mean nothing to the students who support him. Moreover, the hopeless reality socialism has created in countries are “exceptions” in the eyes of students. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Though Sanders does not have the intelligence of Pete Buttigieg or the “I have a plan for that” skill of Elizabeth Warren, he is, to his benefit, not Joe Biden. But more importantly, he has a great skill working for him. He has created an unimaginative fantasy that conjures images of a socialist utopia. Nothing, it appears, is more alluring to college students, and through their impressionable minds, Sanders helped turn himself into an idol, destined to bring about unsuccessful economic policies.
Until students are able to see Bernie for the rusting heap of shallow and false ideas he is, the call for “democratic” socialism will endure.
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