Friday, April 17, 2020

Bernie Sanders is done, but his ideas live on in an ideologically bankrupt party

Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign may have just ended, but his movement lives on. The Democratic National Committee should be worried.

Even in Joe Biden’s hastily made basement command center, Sanders’s ideas are still winning. Nearly all of today’s Democratic Party’s new proposals have their roots in the Sanders camp. "Medicare for all," free college, free childcare, higher taxes, some incarnation of a "Green New Deal" — all have pushed the Democratic Party to the far left. The Democratic agenda is essentially Sanders-lite, and even the DNC’s heir apparent, Biden, has tailored his message to emphasize the expansion of the failure that is Obamacare and a ban on fossil fuels.

Compare this with what Biden ran on during his first failed attempt at the presidency in 1988. For years, Biden was known as a deficit hawk and even proposed caps on entitlement spending. Yet his 2020 campaign website includes nothing on our burgeoning national debt. Even Sanders understands that his proposals are expensive, but Biden, the former deficit hawk, does not even pay lip service to the looming fiscal crisis.

Biden also was once a proponent of reforming Social Security to balance the budget. But when pressed by Sanders in a recent debate, he claimed his past comments were “taken out of context.” Biden used to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now he says he’s not sure he’d join it under the current rules. Sanders is a staunch advocate of protectionism and an enemy of free trade.

Clearly, Biden has flip-flopped on his positions, rarely for the better, as is the case with criminal justice reform. But like Biden, the Democratic Party as a whole has moved to embrace the regulatory and administrative state to fix our problems.

It’s often been said these past few years, but the Democratic Party of today is a far cry from John F. Kennedy’s “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.'' The Sanders-esque Democratic Party is concerned with handouts, at the price of the free market.

Truth be told, much of Sanders’s base could be described as selfish political actors who maintain a thousand-foot view of how the world ought to work — from their perspective, of course. Sanders’s camp is centered on grievances that they believe a central government must fix. Nevermind that the same government has helped create and inflame such societal divisions as wealth inequality, Sanders’s camp believes that a one-size-fits-all approach will somehow save the world. This view is sophomoric at best and malevolent at worst.

No wonder Sanders is wildly popular with younger voters. But as usual, that level of enthusiasm doesn’t translate into success at the polls. Young people remain one of the least politically active demographics in the country. Unfortunately for Sanders, his younger base seemed more concerned with ranting about the senator’s ideological purity on social media than actually getting folks to turn out at the polls. Nevertheless, Sanders’s brand of socialism has a lock on the next generation of Democratic voters — that is, if they remain with Democrats. I’m confident they will.

After all, parties in our political culture are surprisingly resilient. Both of the major parties have undergone new twists and turns, and I believe we are in the midst of another such realignment right now. The Democratic Party is here to stay, but with socialism’s “red” taking over the blue.

Either way, gone for good are the days of the so-called moderate Democrats, those who understood and respected the value of free enterprise and limited government. Prepare now for a wave of would-be successors to Sanders, each of them striving to take up his mantle by moving further and further to the left. Progressive ideological purity might sound good to the far-left Democratic base, but it is assuredly a death sentence for down-ballot races in tough districts across the country.

Big government socialism has found a new home with the Democratic Party. Even in defeat, Bernie Sanders has helped remake the Democratic Party in his image.



We Have Become A Police State, And None Of Us Should Be Okay With That

On Saturday, police in Kansas City “intervened” to shut down a parade of elementary school teachers. The staff of John Fiske Elementary School decided to organize the parade as a way to boost the morale of their students and encourage them in their new distance learning adventure. All of the teachers and administrators were in their own cars. There was literally no chance whatsoever of any virus being transmitted from car to car. But a spokeswoman for the police later explained, after the elicit gathering was descended upon by law enforcement, that the celebration of learning was not “necessary” or “essential.”

Two days before the Kansas City community was saved from the threat of cheerful elementary school teachers waving to children from their sedans, police in Malibu arrested a man who was caught paddle boarding in the ocean. Two boats and three additional deputies in vehicles were called to the scene of the non-essential joyride. How could a man out by himself in the Pacific possibly contract or spread the coronavirus? Nobody knows. But orders are orders, after all. And so the man was pulled out of the ocean and hauled away in handcuffs.

Not far from this harrowing scene, the San Diego sheriff’s department was giving out citations to people who’d committed the nefarious crime of “watching the sunset” on the beach. At around the same time, over on the east coast, Pennsylvania state police were pulling over and ticketing a woman who, according to the citation, was “going for a drive.” You may think that going for a drive when you’ve been locked in your home for three weeks is indeed a rather essential activity. And you may also think that there is essentially zero risk of contracting or transmitting the virus while you drive along a country road in the rural county of York, Pennsylvania. But none of that matters. The politicians have spoken. You may leave your home only for the reasons they decree.

A woman in Minnesota was recently pulled over and ticketed for two offenses: First, driving with a canceled license, which seems fair. But second, for violating her state’s stay-at-home order. She said she’d gone to Taco Bell and before that had visited her storage unit. Why should one be essential and not the other? Who knows. That is up for the politicians to decide. The point is that you can’t just go out and move around as you please. What do you think this is? A free country?

Officials in other parts of the nation have banned essential retailers from selling non-essential items like mosquito repellent. I suppose the prevention of West Nile and malaria are no longer considered essential. The mayor of Port Isabel, Texas, has decided, for whatever reason, that residents may not travel with more than two people in their vehicles. What if you’re a single parent with two kids? Well, sorry, one of your kids is out of luck. It’s not clear how this rule will be enforced, but some states have made that easier on themselves by setting up checkpoints to stop and question every car that passes through. A driver from New York who gets caught in Florida might face 60 days in jail. I should stop here to remind you that Florida and New York are places in the United States of America, not Soviet Russia.

Meanwhile, protestors outside of abortion clinics in California and North Carolina have been arrested for violating their state’s stay-at-home orders, despite the fact that they were following the protocols of social distancing, not to mention that obscure legal artifact known as the First Amendment. But the First Amendment has officially been neutralized, as the multiple pastors arrested for holding worship services have found out. All of this may seem quite oppressive and gestapo-ish, but a police chief in Colorado put those worries aside by explaining that the act of leaving your house and going outside is not a right but a “privilege” that can be revoked if it is “misused.” A prosecutor in Ohio, exploding in a fit of rage during a radio interview, said that those who defy his state’s stay-at-home order are committing “felonious assault” and if you’re guilty of that, you can “sit your butt in jail, sit there and kill yourself.”

Again, I remind you: this is the United States of America. Or at least it used to be.

Apologists for our newly established police state will tell me that states and localities have the authority to impose restrictions in an emergency. That is true, but the question of how far their authority actually goes is complicated, and in this case made even more complicated by the fact that these stay-at-home orders, in many cases, are based not on a current medical emergency in the respective state, but on models that forecast the possibility of an emergency in the future. For example, Minnesota is under a stay-at-home order despite having only 29 coronavirus deaths among a population of over 5 million. Perhaps the situation will get worse. Perhaps not. The point is that there is no current emergency in Minnesota or many of the other states currently under lockdown. There is, rather, a model that projects an emergency. And if projected emergencies can justify the effective nullification of the Bill of Rights, where is the limit? Haven’t we now granted the government the power to seize near-total control on the basis of any real or phantom threat?

And there are other problems. We don’t know that these lockdowns will actually have the effect of saving lives. It’s possible, as Dr. Fauci has admitted himself, that the virus could come roaring back to life whenever we emerge from our homes. It’s also possible that the illness came to America in November, December, or January, aboard any of the hundreds of thousands of travelers from China who poured into our country during that span. If that’s the case, then the viral horse has long since left the barn, and the lockdowns are obliterating our national economy and driving millions into ruin for minimal preventative gain. So we have, then, a series of indefinite stay-at-home orders based on dubious models, and dubious projections, with a dubious chance of success, and which often outlaw behavior that could not even plausibly put anyone at risk from the disease that may or may not, or maybe already has, become epidemic in the states where these laws have been enacted. Is that good enough to justify treating Americans like subjects in a communist dictatorship?

I would argue that nothing could ever justify such a thing. Indeed, the First and Fourth Amendments — the provisions of the Bill of Rights that seem to be having the worst time of it, recently — serve no purpose and have no reason to exist if they can be canceled or overridden whenever the government might have a specially compelling reason to do so. It is only when the government has a specially compelling reason to violate the amendments that the amendments have any function. After all, we really don’t need them during the times that the government has no interest in infringing on them. It seems that if we toss aside our right to assembly, our right to practice our religion, our right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, etc., whenever the government insists that such protections are hazardous to our health, then we might as well not have the rights in the first place. It’s like locking a criminal in a cell but giving him the key to open it along with a stern warning to only use the key if he has a very good reason. Doesn’t the key make the cell a rather pointless accessory? Sure he might remain in it sometimes, but only when he wants to. And it’s precisely when he wants to be behind bars that you don’t need the bars at all.

I’m not suggesting that state governments should do nothing in response to the coronavirus. I am suggesting that they shouldn’t have the power to do whatever the hell they want, for whatever reason they want, to whatever extent they want, for however long they want, with whatever penalty they want. Which is what is happening now all across the country. Governments can and should act justly and prudently to respond to threats that endanger their citizens lives. But there is little in the way of justice and prudence in these measures.




"We've got to get our country open": New White House panel to explore path to reopening the economy (AP)

Ten U.S. governors on the east and west coasts banded together on Monday in two regional pacts to coordinate gradual economic reopenings as the coronavirus crisis finally appeared to be ebbing (Reuters)

Trump administration to unveil $15.5 billion in first phase of farm aid (Reuters)

Due to pandemic, a reluctant Supreme Court will allow live audio broadcast for first time (Los Angeles Times)

Democrat-backed candidate Jill Karofsky wins race for Wisconsin Supreme Court, which greenlighted the much-maligned April 7 primary (The Hill)

Leftmedia personified: New York Times editor admits editing article on Biden sexual-assault allegation after campaign complained (The Washington Free Beacon)

Chinese aircraft carrier sails past Taiwan as U.S. Navy struggles with coronavirus and Capt. Brett Crozier's public memo (Fox News)

Expanded early voting, voter ID repeal, and Election Day holiday: Virginia is reborn as a leftist enclave following governor's weekend bill signing (

Michigan bans "all public and private gatherings" but still allows lottery sales (Reason)

Meanwhile, petition to recall Michigan Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer passes 150,000 signatures (

Christian baker Jack Phillips sued again by relentless Rainbow Mafia, this time over transgender cake (The Daily Wire)

Policy: Is higher education COVID-19's next victim? (Issues & Insights)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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1 comment:

C. S. P. Schofield said...

"Is higher education COVID-19's next victim?"

We can only hope.