It’s egregious excess time. Old norms have gone into hiding, common sense has taken a walk, wisdom is on vacation and fundamental principles have been shooed out of the room. The center does not hold and neither does anything else, least of all Donald Trump, who spends his energetic days slipping and falling and then getting up to play the fool on Twitter. There will never be a president worse than this one, it has been said, although Democratic voters have done an excellent job of coming up with a real possibility.
He is Sen. Bernie Sanders, and something to behold, a 78-year-old self-proclaimed democratic socialist who never graduated from the rabid 1960s. A former hippy and mayor of Burlington, Vermont, he went on his honeymoon in Moscow to be palsy-walsy with communists, and is now running as a Democratic presidential candidate for the second time. Assisted by his usual cohorts — a red face and a Brooklyn accent full of anger and bigotry — he curses the corporate elite and whines about capitalism before more cheerfully embracing policies under which everything will be free except the citizenry.
Listen, I don’t mean to sound like Joe McCarthy or Robert Mueller and absolutely do not mean to hint that Sanders ever colluded with the Russians. In explaining his socialism, he himself instead makes references to Scandinavian countries as examples of socialism that works, and he’s right. It does to the extent that it is not socialism.
You can still find lots of welfare in these countries supported by taxes that Americans wouldn’t put up with, but in the 1990s, Sweden started digging its economy out of a deepening socialist hole. It did lower some individual taxes, revised social programs, did some privatizing and opened doors for higher business expectations and entrepreneurial initiative. The Scandinavian countries all have free markets and highly beneficial, low corporate tax rates that Trump instituted here to the benefit of our own economy’s future. Sanders wants a mighty increase.
Concerning Venezuela’s move to socialism, Sanders’ initial approval seems to have dimmed as starvation and toilet paper shortages have cropped up in a once wealthy country, and says this is not his socialist ambition. Venezuela’s leaders did not plan to go there, either, but then the thieving, murderous, totalitarian government took over the oil industry and is finally inviting a private company back for the sake of rescue.
Sanders wants government to eventually take over pretty much all of the health insurance and refashioned energy businesses in the United States.
He wants “Medicare for All,” which would kick 150 million people out of their employer-based plans and tens millions more out of private plans associated with public plans. Freedom of choice would be incarcerated, the cost would be enormous and then you have the cost of paying off student loans, free college and a Green New Deal that could be a rotten deal. Among the travails, millions would be unemployed because of the death of the fossil fuel industry within a decade or so. One way Sanders plans to have money for 20 million renewable energy jobs is to sue fossil fuel companies that disagreed with him about climate change. In other words, something else he doesn’t want to keep free is speech.
On Trump’s major policy weaknesses, the national debt and trade tariffs, Sanders is worse, and yet two primaries and some pleasant polling on the national scene have much improved the outlook made worrisome by a heart attack. He’s saying he won’t release his medical records and that could dissuade voters, although his Senate voting records are worrisome enough. The Democratic establishment doesn’t like what the Democratic voters like even though Sanders has not called a young woman at a rally a “lying dog-faced pony soldier.” That was so-called centrist Joe Biden demonstrating why his own campaign has tumbled.
Like I said, it is egregious excess time.
Jay Ambrose is an OpEd columnist for Tribune News Service.