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Tags: democrats | working class | voters | abandoned | bernie sanders

Sanders Surprisingly Sees Dems' Flaws

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Ira Stoll By Wednesday, 19 April 2023 12:55 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

The Democratic Party has "largely turned its back on the working class," and is "hemorrhaging working-class support," Sen. Bernie Sanders warns in a new book.

I picked up a copy of "It's Ok to Be Angry About Capitalism," with a picture of Sanders on the cover. I was raring to rebut it. Indeed, there turns out to be plenty in there with which to disagree.

The most newsworthy thing about the volume though, may well be the pleasant surprises, the parts in which Sanders accurately diagnoses what he calls a "crisis" facing the Democratic Party.

"The party, in too many cases and in too many places, has lost touch with working Americans. It doesn't know how to speak to them because it doesn't know what is going on with them," Sanders writes.

Sanders notes that Donald Trump got 10 million more votes in 2020 than in 2016. He rejects the idea that those votes were all motivated by racism. "Many of those so-called racist Americans voted for Barack Obama, our first Black president, and for 'hope' and 'change' and 'Yes We Can.' And they voted to reelect him. But their lives did not get better," Sanders writes.

He writes that the Democrats "abandoned" working class voters in favor of "wealthy campaign contributors and the 'beautiful people.'" The Democratic National Committee, Sanders says, "spends almost all of its time trying to keep on the right side of the millionaires and billionaires."

Trying to keep on the "right side of the millionaires and billionaires" is not a problem that afflicts Sanders. There is one possible exception: George Soros, who is a big political spender.

Sanders denounces various billionaires by name — Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Michael Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg, Howard Schultz, Jeff Bezos, the Walton family. Soros, however, is conspicuously absent from Sanders' target list, perhaps because at least some of his policy goals intersect with those of Sanders' goals.

Sanders' treatment of rich people is where Sandersism falls apart. He acknowledges that "People like Musk, Bezos, Zuckerberg, Gates, Buffett, the Waltons, the Kochs, and their ilk are usually smart. They tend to work hard and take risks; they're often innovative."

Yet he wants to eliminate them. "Billionaires should not exist," is the title of one chapter of this book.

Sanders faults Republicans for election-season blame-claims. Sanders characterizes those as "immigrants are the problem," "Black people are the problem," "LGBTQ people are the problem," "Muslims are the problem." Sanders' objection, though, isn't the divisive scapegoating.

His complaint, rather, is that the Republicans have simply chosen the wrong goats. Sanders suggests an alternative for the slaughter: "The very rich," Sanders writes, "are the problem."

The case for that is asserted rather than proven. The contradictions are rampant. Sanders correctly credits Trump for having "actually got something right" with Operation Warp Speed, which partnered with the pharmaceutical industry to develop and deploy effective COVID vaccines at a rapid pace.

In the next breath, Sanders denounces Moderna and Pfizer for "making billions in excessive profits." Funny how the vaccines that generate "excessive profits" are developed and deployed faster, and work better, than those generated by profit-free government laboratories.

Sanders complains that wealthy families "do not share their wealth," but that's just inaccurate, both in terms of philanthropy and also in terms of value generated for customers, shareholders, employees, vendors, and other business partners.

Much of the rest of the Sanders book consists of a catalog of terrible policy ideas that have been tried already either here or elsewhere in one form or another and yielded disappointing outcomes — rent control, a top income tax rate of 92 percent, $35 billion a year of spending on "public media."

Sanders goes on and on denouncing "corporate media conglomerates," by which he means "CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, and the rest of the corporate media." Disparaging Disney, he sounds much like Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, who also uses the "corporate media" phrase as a kind of insult.

The Sanders book is published by Crown, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, which is itself controlled by Bertelsmann and its German family proprietors led by Liz Mohn. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates Mohn as being worth about $6.2 billion.

Sanders could have sought to publish his book by means of the U.S. Government Publishing Office or by some independent or nonprofit press. Yet when it comes to actually getting something done, like selling books, there's something, somehow about the profit motive and private ownership that tends to work better than anything else.

One might fault Mohn for helping fuel, in Sanders, an anticapitalist messenger who will ultimately destroy the system in which she prospers. At times Sanders claims confidently that things are heading in that direction: "The future of this country is with our ideas."

He's more believable when he talks about how Democrats have lost touch with working Americans. Now there's a message that will help Bertelsmann sell some books. It may have some truth to it, too, not only as it applies to the Democratic National Committee but also as it applies to a certain independent socialist from Vermont who caucuses with the Democrats.

Ira Stoll is the author of "Samuel Adams: A Life," and "JFK, Conservative." Read Ira Stoll's Reports — More Here.

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Sanders is more believable when he talks about how Democrats have lost touch with working Americans.
democrats, working class, voters, abandoned, bernie sanders
Wednesday, 19 April 2023 12:55 PM
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