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The Delusions of Bernie Sanders Supporters
There is absolutely nothing revolutionary about the politics of Senator Bernie Sanders. The politics of envy, class warfare, and the confiscation of other people's wealth are as old as government itself. Nor is Sanders a uniquely principled politician or socialist looking out for the little guy and opposing cronyism at every turn.
I'm hardly likely to disabuse anybody of their romantic notions of socialism, or even social democracy if you choose to distinguish between the two, but the idea of supporting more regulation, higher taxes, and a large welfare state is hardly novel even in the United States. The trend in favor of these policies has been steady since Herbert Hoover was president, and Democrats have been implementing them in a gradual fashion for decades. Hoover and FDR's "New Deal," LBJ's "Great Society," and Obama's "Affordable Care Act" have all been benchmarks in the American drive towards social democracy, with many smaller acts in between like the creation of the Department of Education of programs like "No Child Left Behind."
So the only thing "revolutionary" about Bernie Sanders in this respect is that he's being slightly more open about his intentions than your average Democratic politician might be. His actual policy positions are as mundane and typical as you could possibly find in an American politician.
As far as being a principled advocate of these positions, Sanders knows what brought him to the table in the first place, and whose hands he needs to grease to stay there. He's absolutely opposed to crony capitalism, unless of course it helps him get elected. In 2013 Sanders's office released a statement praising the U.S. Air Force for choosing a Vermont National Guard base to house many of the F-35's that Sanders had been supporting in the Senate.
The F-35 is a warplane that has been developed by the U.S. government that has been nothing short of a boondoggle. Billions of dollars have been wasted in trying to make this plane a reality, and it's been a disaster. However, this has not stopped Bernie Sanders from voting to give taxpayer money to mega corporations like Lockheed Martin, the company that manufactures the F-35's. That's right, the champion of the proletariat has no problem giving billions of dollars to the fat cats at Lockheed Martin so long as they spend that money employing his voters in Vermont as they produce a useless fighter jet.
Senator Sanders also tries to portray himself as much less hawkish than Hillary Clinton when it comes to foreign policy, with some even comparing him to Congressman Ron Paul when it comes to principled opposition to war. Representative Tulsi Gabbard even cut an extremely effective ad for Sanders ahead of the caucuses in Hawaii, which Sanders went on to win, saying that he would be a principled non-interventionist if elected president.
Now it may be true that Sanders is objectively less hawkish than Clinton, but that's not saying much. Clinton is on par with the most hawkish neoconservatives when it comes to an aggressive foreign policy. Bill Kristol has even pledged to support Clinton over Trump if he's the Republican nominee, and it's easy to see why. She's a far more reliable warmonger than Trump or Sanders would ever be.
Regardless, Sanders cannot be relied upon to take a principled non-interventionist stance, despite what many of his most ardent supporters may think. They may even be surprised to learn that Sanders supported President Bill Clinton's bombing campaign in Kosovo in 1999 which killed hundreds of the civilians that it was supposedly designed to protect. This led leftist-activist and historian Jeremy Brecher to resign from Sanders's staff. In his resignation letter Brecher writes:
It was your vote in support of this resolution that precipitated my decision that my conscience required me to resign from your staff. I have tried to ask myself questions that I believe each of us must ask ourselves:
Is there a moral limit to the military violence you are willing to participate in or support? Where does that limit lie? And when that limit has been reached, what action will you take?
My answers led to my resignation.
Furthermore, despite his initial opposition to the Iraq War, Sanders never failed to vote in favor of funding the war after it was underway. This is always done with the claim that one is simply "supporting the troops," but it's actually an abdication of responsibility. If Sanders thought the war was bad then it was his responsibility as a legislator to use the power of the purse to stop the president from waging the war.
And despite his repeated attacks on Hillary Clinton's favored policy of regime change, Clinton was right to point out that Sanders is a hypocrite on this issue as well. While on the one hand he rightly criticizes Clinton for fomenting chaos in Libya by removing Maummar Gaddhafi, on the other he voted in the Senate for a resolution calling for Gaddhafi's removal. On what planet does the legislature of one nation have the right to vote on the removal of a government of another nation that it is not at war with? If Sanders believed that Gaddhafi should go then why is he criticizing Clinton for making it happen? The answers are easy when you realize that Bernie Sanders is just another unprincipled politician willing to do or say anything necessary for political gain.
The reason that Bernie Sanders rarely speaks about foreign policy is twofold: He doesn't know very much about the subject, and he knows that if he did his younger supporters would realize what a fraud he is. And while a lot of people like to make a fuss about him being an open socialist, his blatant cronyism proves that he is nothing more than another crony capitalist. That his branding is different is of no importance. Perhaps some of his supporters will wake up when he inevitably endorses Hillary Clinton for president and begins campaigning for her. Then maybe they'll see what a fraud he is.