Wednesday, February 19, 2020

What If It’s Bernie?

Mike Segar/Reuters
It would take a lot to make President Trump seem like the 'normal' candidate in a general election. But Sanders might just pull it off.
Senator Bernie Sanders, the professing socialist from Vermont, is not a member of the Democratic Party, but he is at the moment the leading candidate to win that party’s presidential nomination in 2020. He is an ideological outlier who speaks more openly about a particular -ism — socialism, in this case — than many of his allies do or would prefer he do. He has a strange and occasionally embarrassing personal history more befitting a gadfly than a serious candidate for the presidency of the United States of America. He is intellectually unserious and develops his policy positions by simply taking one step in the direction of extremism beyond his rivals, though his extremism relative to the other contenders for the party’s nomination is at least as often rhetorical as substantive. The parallels with Donald Trump in 2016 are obvious enough — he even has an interesting real-estate portfolio.
The betting markets currently have Senator Sanders’s chances of winning the nomination at 43.6 percent, well ahead of No. 2 Michael Bloomberg (26.6 percent), Pete Buttigieg (14.6 percent), and Joe Biden (9.1 percent), to say nothing of Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, and the rest of the sub–5 percent gang. Sanders leads in most of the national polls.
So, what if it’s Bernie?
A Sanders nomination would turn the race on its head — and not in the way that Democrats might hope. For one thing, President Trump could reasonably present himself as the moderate in a race against Sanders, who promises “revolution” and seeks to reorganize the U.S. government — we have his own word on this — along Nordic lines. Trump, for all his bombast, proposes nothing comparable. When it comes to the major domestic activity of the U.S. government — entitlement spending — Trump seeks no meaningful change at all, promising only to defend the status quo and current benefits. Sanders seeks to impose a monopoly single-payer health-care system on the United States; Trump has learned that health-care reform is hard (“Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated,” the president says, overgeneralizing just a little), but with unemployment low, wages rising, and the growth in health-care costs slowing down slightly, his administration is under less pressure than it otherwise might be on the issue. Trump has not been successful in reordering American foreign relations or trade relations, but he has not initiated any new major wars — Tehran declined his invitation to the dance — and his trade war has played into populist passions that are shared in the main by those who support Senator Sanders, who is not exactly a free-trade man himself.
The most obvious lines of criticism that opponents might direct at President Trump — that he is bumptious and unsteady, that he is as a matter of both character and intellect poorly suited to the office, that he has defective judgment — would sound more than a little preposterous emanating from a batty socialist relic with a heaping dose of creepy on his curriculum vitae.
Read the rest from Kevin D. Williamson HERE.

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