Tags: 2020 Elections | Healthcare Reform | Joe Biden | Medicare | Venezuela | democratic | socialism

Bernie's Revolution Can Win

sen bernie sanders democrat of vermont and a current democratic candidate for president

Bernie Sanders at the Our Revolution Massachusetts Rally at the Orpheum Theatre on March 31, 2017 in Boston, Mass. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images).

By Monday, 27 January 2020 05:59 AM Current | Bio | Archive

What if Bernie Sanders wins?

Oddsmakers still say that the Vermont senator is less likely to win the Democratic presidential nomination than former Vice President Joe Biden.

He continues to lag among African-Americans. And even if he takes the nomination, he has political vulnerabilities that bring smiles to President Donald Trump’s team. Did you know that in 2011, Sanders posted an editorial on his website praising the left-wing regime in Venezuela for making the American dream more of a reality than it is in our country?

If he is running against Trump this fall, you will hear about that — and about his plan to outlaw almost all private health insurance and Medicare Advantage, and raise middle-class taxes, and on and on.

But it is beginning to dawn on rivals and supporters alike that Sanders could go the distance. He has been leading in the polls in New Hampshire for most of the last six weeks.

He is rising in the national surveys of Democrats.

He has a core of supporters who will stay with him, and keep him funded, for as long as he wants to run for the nomination.

He can’t be written off in the general election, either. Americans to a large extent have a favorable impression of him: His rating is much better than Trump’s. Sanders has been ahead of Trump in every recent poll of Michigan. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it would be Sanders’s race to lose. But he’d have a real chance.

So: What if he wins the presidency?

One answer you’ll increasingly hear as that prospect gets closer is, Not much will change. The case for calm rests on the checks and balances on any president.

It’s not clear that even a Democratic House could pass anything like Sanders’s health plan.

President Sanders might have to deal with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., — or a narrowly Democratic Senate whose de facto leader is the West Virginia moderate Joe Manchin and whose Republicans can still wield the filibuster. (Sanders does not support eliminating it.) Sanders has not gotten much legislation through Congress in his three decades there, and might not be much more effective in the White House.

Democrats would have the presidency, so the executive branch would do a 180 degree turn on regulations, and judicial nominees would come from the left instead of the right.

But all that would be mostly the same whether we have President Sanders or President Biden. It wouldn’t amount to the "political revolution" that Sanders has been promising.

We can expect these sorts of considerations to make some Never Trump Republicans argue that Sanders is the lesser evil in a Sanders-Trump match-up: Sure he has a lot of extreme socialist ideas, they’ll say, but none of them will come to pass.

Here’s what this way of thinking misses: If Sanders wins, it will mark a huge change in American politics. Self-described socialists have been elected in other developed countries; never in this one. Here, "socialism" has been an accusation, not a boast.

Politicians on the left wing of the Democratic Party have considered the label, and the associations that come with it, deadly to their electoral chances. Republicans hope it still is. If Sanders beats them, the taboo will be broken.

It’s not just a matter of the label. The limits of what’s politically possible will shift left as the political world adjusts to the new reality. Politicians, strategists, journalists, activists and voters who thought that certain ideas were too far left to make it in America would revise their sense of the country, and of what counts as extreme or as realistic within it.

The ground on which future races for president, governor and Congress are contested would move left. That doesn’t mean the U.S. would be Venezuela, or even Denmark, by the start of 2022. But it is reasonable to expect that government policy 10 or 20 years from now would be considerably more socialistic than it would be if Trump were re-elected — or if Biden were elected.

In that sense, Sanders’s election really would live up to the billing. Just by taking office, he would have delivered his political revolution.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a Bloomberg View columnist. He is a senior editor of National Review and the author of "The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life." To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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It's reasonable to expect that government policy 10 or 20 years from now would be considerably more socialistic than it would be if Trump were re-elected, or if Biden were elected. Just by taking office, he would have delivered his political revolution.
democratic, socialism, denmark
Monday, 27 January 2020 05:59 AM
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