Elections 2020 Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a Democratic presidential candidate, addresses the media last month outside Olde Walkerville Pharmacy in Windsor, Ontario. Sanders and a busload of insulin patients stopped in Windsor to purchase the drug to highlight the high cost of the insulin in the United States.

Throughout the last century, socialists have faced an uphill battle within the United States. Unlike other similarly high-income countries, the U.S. has largely remained a bastion of deeply individualist attitudes and unregulated capitalist policies.

Yet, over the span of the past decade, socialism has transformed from a demonized ideology to a publicly discussed economic model that many Americans are now seriously considering. Indeed, the Pew Research Center just last month published data showing that 42% of the country has a positive view of socialism, including 65% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters.

There is no doubt that Sen. Bernie Sanders has boosted socialism’s favorability. In 2016, he became one of the few candidates to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. While he lost the nomination, his candidacy both rehabilitated the idea of socialism and vividly altered public discussions, putting propositions such as “Medicare for all” and free higher education on the Democratic agenda.

Similar to decades past, Bernie’s opponents have resurrected Cold War phobias. And although the Soviet Union dissolved nearly 30 years ago, critics have found a new country to scream in response to Sanders’ popularity: Venezuela.

A quick perusal of conservative outlets, from the Heritage Foundation to the National Review to Fox News, will find you a litany of articles likening a potential Sanders presidency to an economic implosion à la Venezuela. All other serious Democratic candidates have avoided and even explicitly denounced socialist policies. Elizabeth Warren, for instance, provided Trump with a standing ovation when he denounced socialism in his recent State of the Union address, and she has described herself as a “capitalist to the bone.”

While Sanders himself has continually pointed to Scandinavia as providing inspiration for his policies, critics have sought to seize upon his disposition toward the Venezuelan government as evidence that he would allegedly destroy the U.S. economy “because socialism.”

Sanders, however, has never embraced the Venezuelan government — either

under former President Hugo Chavez or now under President Nicolas Maduro. He never met with these leaders. He never claimed that Venezuela serves as a model of a socialist society. In fact, in 2016, he even specifically stated: “When I talk about democratic socialism, I’m not looking at Venezuela. I’m not looking at Cuba. I’m looking at countries like Denmark and Sweden.”

And, while it’s true that Sanders has not referred to Maduro as an outright dictator, he has continually noted that recent presidential elections were flawed, and he has called for new elections in the country.

Anyone who suggests that Sanders wishes to “turn the U.S. into Venezuela” is a bad-faith

actor. They’re distorting reality and deceiving citizens.

Where Sanders meaningfully differs from other Democratic front-runners like Joe Biden and Warren, though, is in his commitment to an anti-imperialist, anti-interventionist foreign policy.

While others have supported economic sanctions, Sanders has recognized that sanctions harm poor citizens much more than they harm governments. While others have called for the Venezuelan military to rise up against Maduro, Sanders has drawn attention to the nefarious role played by the United States throughout Latin America, including its support for coups that have resulted in military regimes like the one formerly ruled by Gen. Augusto Pinochet in Chile. While others have called for isolating Venezuela, Sanders has positioned himself as someone who would prefer engagement on mutually respectful grounds.

Given the recent popularity of socialism, Americans seem far less susceptible to Cold War-style smear campaigns that simplistically attempt to demonize socialism. Though the causes are more complex than “because socialism,” it’s true that countries such as Venezuela and North Korea are failing. It’s also true that many countries guided by capitalist ideas are failing. Argentina, for one, recently elected businessman Mauricio Macri. Yet, since coming to power, the Argentine economy has faced currency depreciation, high inflation and rising unemployment.

People are traveling more than ever to countries with socialist-oriented policies, they have access to more information than ever demonstrating the benefits of socialist policies, and, within the United States they experience an array of inequalities in their own life surrounding, for example, health and education.

All of these dynamics diminish the effectiveness of fear-mongering around socialism. People know that they could have better access to opportunities and resources. People know that rationing insulin, getting priced out of college opportunities, and getting priced out of owning houses and raising families after college due to exorbitant student debt, do not constitute the good life. And if capitalism won’t provide such opportunities, it’s no surprise socialism will garner ever more support among the population.

Copyright 2019 Tribune Content Agency.

(14) comments

rikkitikkitavvi

Not any fun playing with yourselves is it?

Blueline

On the topic of free higher education, one thing rarely mentioned is that you have to pass exams in those countries for admission. So, no going to college for 8 years or majoring in Sociology of Disco.

awteam2000

Blue, What’s the SAT exam for?

public-redux

Most colleges/universities in the US don’t care about your SAT score. If you (or someone on your behalf) can foot the bill, you’re admitted.

awteam2000

Unfortunately, I ain’t got enough money to buy my kids way into colleges or universities? Maybe, I should’ve worked harder and not spent so much time at the disco 🕺.

DickD

In New York when I was growing up anyone could go passing was another matter.

public-redux

This is why free college for all is such a bad idea. It provides a payor that is indifferent to cost.

DickD

Bernie's problem is he focuses on what he wants, ignoring the cost and what it does to a large percentage of his own party. ..For instance retirees already on Medicare will gain nothing or very little, while their taxes go up. Bernie and Elizabeth Warren risk losing a lot of votes.

dabittle

As I've stated before: Those who are quick to point to the Scandinavian countries as models of success for socialism omit the obvious differences--and they are great--between the U.S. and those countries where socialism has enjoyed success. Unlike the U.S., those countries have homogeneous populations of people, even tighter borders and immigration laws/standards than the U.S. which they fiercely protect. Moreover, the populations in those countries have completely bought into the ethos and work ethic necessary for such systems to be successful: 1.) High work-participation rates. 2.) Responsible government spending.



In the U.S. we have dreadfully high percentages of people who, for whatever reason, do not/can not/will not get up and go to work. We have irresponsible government spending--look no further then our massive $23 trillion in debt as evidence. And finally, those Scandinavian countries that enjoy successful socialism have very low rates of crime and incarnation--we have very high rates of crime and incarnation. Socialism ONLY works when EVERYONE (or at least the vast majority) of the country participate in and contribute to the community, the economy AND society. IMO, it cannot work in the U.S..

DickD

I don't want Socialism, but I think it could work anywhere, if there's other modifications.

shiftless88

dabittle; has it ever occurred to you that the strengths you point out of those other countries are, in part, a RESULT of their economic approach?

awteam2000

Scandinavia is a Peninsula in Northern Europe, 3 countries - Sweden, Denmark and Norway. They have strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. Immigrants from the Middle East have been a rapidly growing share of the Sweden's population. Most of the immigrants come from Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and Syria, according to the Bureau of Statistics in Sweden. Additionally, the birth rate among immigrant women after arriving in Sweden is higher than among ethnic Swedes. Older ethnic Scandinavians are being replaced in numbers by immigrants. But the population growth remains constant, averaging 1.5% per year. In Denmark 13% of the population and growing is comprised of foreign-born or first-generation immigrants. 14 % of Norway’s population are not ethnic Scandinavians.

awteam2000

In addition dabittle, you may not know the 2nd year NFL kicker on the Baltimore Ravens is from Norway, Kaare Vedvik, who happens to be black.

awteam2000

Kaare was just traded to The Vikings for a 5th round draft pick in 2020.

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