I wanted to make a rational capitalist’s case to vote for Bernie tomorrow.
First off, I’m not a huge fan of his. Here are the points about him that bother me the most, so if you are a capitalist neoliberal shill too just like me you can realize I’m coming from a similar place to you 😉 If you just want to skip to the second list it’s the reasons why I think he’s the best best to beat Trump. But first, what annoys me:
- I think he’s an insult to subtlety and nuance. I think he’s an activist who has always been able to take the morally self-righteous vote (see recent trade deal where Warren said she said yes because it was an improvement and Bernie said no because it wasn’t radical enough) because it was never the tipping vote to make something an actual law.
- I think who your supporters are says a lot about you, and I consistently butt up against Bernie supporters who seem to have no grasp of subtlety and proportionality: statements like “Biden/Bloomberg/Buttigeig is the same as Trump” or “Warren isn’t a revolutionary candidate,” “Mayor Pete isn’t progressive” etc. make me mad, as to be honest those are the candidates I agree with more, and I can’t help but feel like it’s a reflection of a candidate who puts out a vibe of “if you aren’t with me, you’re a neoliberal shill who deserves to be guillotined” that causes his supporters to view people like me as the enemy.
- I’m also HUGELY resentful of talk about “solidarity” that breaks down with “I will not vote for anyone other than Bernie” talk. That’s not how solidarity works. It’s the origin of people saying “he’s not even a Democrat.” I’ll often point out when someone brings that up that voters don’t care, but what they really mean is that “we’re all trying to row in the same direction here and he hasn’t been a team player.”
- I frankly also just disagree that the entire system needs to be blown up. Our system has been the same for a very long time, but this level of income inequality has been fairly recent – we don’t have inequality because of capitalism, we have inequality because one side has successfully yanked aggressively on one lever of capitalism, the tax rate and brought everything else out of proportion. We can correct for that within the system.
- His policies can be ham-fisted and unnecessarily radical – Medicare for all who want it is actually the policy of . . . *gasp* Sweden and many of the “democratic socialist” countries Bernie likes to point to. There is a private insurance rate of about 6% in Sweden, 10% in Denmark for example.
- Socialist is a dirty word for people like my Estonian family that fled the Soviets. Young people forget that many of our grandparents generation, who still vote, were Republicans when they arrived in America because they interpreted them as being the toughest on communism.
- Tons of small things – he refused to call Maduro a dictator, wants to ban fracking (and potentially lose Pennsylvania and actually set our transition to greener energies back?), etc. The list goes on.
He makes me scared, but here are the factors that have led to me begrudgingly admitting I think he’s our best bet.
- The “He’s not electable argument” isn’t necessarily true. I don’t necessarily disagree, time will tell, but I think post 2016 where we lost with a moderate candidate to a radical rightwing ideologue holding positions the rest of us thought would make him unelectable around free trade and immigration, I think I’m surprised at the lack of humility from our moderate wing that we know what “electable” actually is.
- I’m more afraid of a Kerry or a Clinton than I am of a McGovern. There is a lot of focus on the landslide Reagan reelection to a “way too liberal” candidate (McGovern). Not a lot of mention of the defeat of decent, moderate candidates we put forward against very beatable opponents.
- I met a high level Biden-world person who said their theory of the election was that “your house is on fire, before you try to reconstruct it put out the fire.” When I asked them point blank at this dinner what was their answer for “the reason Trump was elected was many people thought the house was ALREADY on fire in 2016,” there wasn’t really a clear answer. This was honestly a huge turning point for me – people who were desperate enough to elect Trump aren’t going to respond to a message of a return to normalcy and decency, and I’m petrified that the moderate candidates in general don’t really “get” that. Someone with “decency” as their top preference didn’t vote for Trump . . .
- Bloomberg’s answer on if he deserved his $65 billion fortune at his first debate closed the door on him for me, even though I like him and view him as hyper competent and a good man who frankly, deserves a HUGE amount of credit for using that fortune to try to stop global warming and school shootings. It was clear who the ex-Republican on stage was, and it was not just tone-deaf, it is just plain wrong – he didn’t work a million times harder than the average single mom working 3 jobs to support her kids . . . it was a very clear example of him just not “getting” it similar to Biden’s team.
- The “Moderate Republican” contingent is much smaller than the radical leftist/would otherwise stay at home contingent. I continually hear this from my more moderate Dem friends, how we won’t attract these mythical moderate Republicans with a candidate like Bernie. I think it’s important to remember how few of these people there are – we shouldn’t be catering to the big city socially liberal but fiscally conservative type – this is the 1% of the 1% that we all hang out with at cocktail parties if you’re an entrepreneur like me, but is NOT a widely held view the minute you get out to a Borough.
- I think the down ballot massacre is overstated. Trump won the house and senate while being reelected. Those individual candidates were able to create plenty of distance between them and Trump.
- Socialist isn’t as dirty of a word in our generation as it used to be (still think it’s stupid to use it though)
- 95% of his policies actually aren’t THAT radical. A British friend joked to me recently that they look at Sanders curiously because most of what he’s advocating is commonly accepted in England, where there is a national health system, etc. I believe that it could be healthy for the Democratic party to more blatantly own our progressive identities instead of shying away from them.
- We lost in 2016. The “We won the popular vote” or “it was really just sexism and a candidate with a lot of baggage” or “it was just 100k combined votes in three states’ etc. Yeah ok, we still lost. And the most well financed and most competent candidate to ever run for the nomination was beat by a guy with a rag tag team but a . . .
- Good message. As much as I think the reality will come back to bite him and his supporters in the ass, Sanders sticks to his message relentlessly. His worst quality (dogma/inflexible ideology) is also his best for having a crystal clear message against Trump.
- For many of these Bernie supporters, Trump IS the same as Biden or Bloomberg. This one took me a long time to understand, but for many people, if you’re losing your job or being gentrified out of your home, a moderate change is not going to save you. You’re still fucked. They are going to vote, or not, in their own self-interests.
I think Bernie is going to be an ok president but I wish I had another alternative. I wish our moderates had spent more time on the debate stage telling me about their version of bold progressive policies (kind of like Andrew Yang honestly), and providing an alternative explanation to “all corporations are evil” instead of just telling me how Bernie/Warren weren’t going to be able to pay for something.
Bernie scares me. I hope he is a Trump (unexpectedly electable as he’s saying things everyone thinks) and not a Roy Moore/Todd Akin (actually revolting enough to moderate Republicans that they stayed home and/or voted for the moderate Dem).
I think the election of Trump was a cry for help. I think the idea that capitalism doesn’t work is bullshit, but it’s clear that capitalism isn’t working for a huge subset of America. And it’s also clear they are desperate enough to look for radical solutions.
I think the risky bet is thinking they are going to buy essentially the same product they rejected 4 years ago.
Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same result.
I actually think Bernie is the safest choice.