14 January 2016

Is Bernie Sanders America’s Jeremy Corbyn?


I always read Owen Jones, even if I disagree with most of what the Guardian columnist writes. Not only does he provide an insight into what the radical Left is thinking, he is usually entertaining and interesting on politics.

His latest column, on the rise of Bernie Sanders in the US, is essential reading, even if you – like me – find the Owen Jones take on economics about as much practical use as a chocolate teapot.

But there is something stirring on the American Left, he notes. Younger Democrat voters prefer the economically illiterate Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton, and like the way he lambasts Wall Street, money-making and the private sector in general.

Jones says: “The US remains a chronically unjust and devastatingly unequal society, its proud democracy beholden to powerful and wealthy interests. It is this potential tinderbox that makes the implausibly clown-like, quasi-fascist Donald Trump the Republican frontrunner; and, more hopefully, a 74-year-old self-described socialist from Vermont – Bernie Sanders –a serious challenger to the Clinton machine.”

The Left always relishes instability. Today in the US it senses a chance of an upset, projecting its hopes on to an unlikely candidate. There is a parallel with the stunning victory of far-left Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership election in the UK last year. Of course, it remains most likely that Clinton – with all that money, and access – will crush Sanders in the primaries in the bigger, later states, after he causes her trouble in Iowa and New Hampshire. It is clear though, that the model pioneered by Bill Clinton in the early 1990s, of triangulation and highly-spun politics now looks extremely tired. It is almost a quarter of a century old. It is bust and voters can see the wiring, but the Clintons are only just discovering that their machine is mid-malfunction.

This is, it must be said, hugely amusing. For months the Clintons and their allies have been chortling over the mess that the Republican party is in, taking it for granted that Hillary will be the nominee and praying for the Republicans to choose Trump. Now, they have Sanders to deal with.

Iain Martin is Editor of CapX.