25 May 2016

Sanders’ Socialism versus Democracy


Is Bernie Sanders actually a democrat?

By this point, the Vermont Senator’s political affiliation has become common knowledge: he is, as we all know, a Democratic Socialist. But as the presidential primary has dragged on well past its best-before date, the conflict between those ideologies has become apparent. And socialism is winning.

Hillary Clinton has 274 more pledged delegates than Bernie Sanders – a bigger lead than Barack Obama had over Clinton at any point in the 2008 primary. She is winning the popular vote count by nearly 3 million votes. Sanders is perfectly within his rights to keep fighting and take the contest all the way to the convention floor, but anyone looking at the numbers can see that, democratically, his brand of socialism has been found wanting.

To Bernie Sanders, however, this is unimportant. Francis Wilkinson at Bloomberg View has a fantastic piece detailing how Sanders, like all those who have called for revolution before him, is a Socialist first, democrat second:

“Over the course of 2016, Democratic voters answered Sanders. In voting for Clinton, they opted to stand with those in need of health care and education and opportunity, but to do so in a way that doesn’t destroy Wall Street or drug companies or insurance companies.

Sanders doesn’t like the answer. He wants revolution, not gradual progress; purity, not a compromise that straddles and mediates opposing interests. He and his supporters have attacked the results of the Democratic primaries as rigged, resorting to the kind of logic – and, in Nevada, conduct – that recalls some of socialism’s less gentle antecedents.”

For anyone who missed it, the Nevada state convention saw Sanders supporters rioting, obstructing proceedings, shouting down moderators and throwing chairs when a rule change they appealed for was rejected. Chairwoman Roberta Lange was subjected to harassment and death threats when she refused to give in to the Berniacs’ demands to alter the democratic process in their favour. And while Sanders did eventually issue a lukewarm statement condemning the violence, he sandwiched this faux-apology between thinly-veiled attacks on the Democratic Party for failing to be welcoming enough to his message.

Sanders, like so many Socialists before him including Karl Marx himself, will not believe that there exist people who understand his ideology but still choose not to vote for it. Whether he is insulting the intelligence of black voters in the South who support Clinton or insisting the game is rigged if he does not win, he is revealing a fundamental disrespect for democracy as system.

Democracy is messy and flawed and sometimes unsatisfying. But that is no excuse for attempting to circumvent it. Sanders has had his shot at convincing the electorate of a country founded on capitalist ideals that his way is better. So far, the majority of voters haven’t bought it. A true democrat would, at this stage, politely accept defeat. But Sanders presses boldly on, convinced that his brand of socialism is worth more than the democracy blocking his path.

Rachel Cunliffe is Deputy Editor of CapX.