Is Bernie Sanders a really a Socialist or just another Liberal?I cannot point out too many times that people tend to see specific word as representing a specific, real object. But we all have the experience that one word can mean many things, and that specific things may have more than one name. Words of the day: socialist and progressive.
The Democratic Party Presidential debate in New Hampshire on February 4, 2016 provided lessons in both semantics and real politics. It was a long debate. Anyone who listened to it, or who reads the transcript, might reasonably select different points to emphasizing in reporting on it. Not surprisingly, Bernie advocates believe he won the debate, while Hillary advocates believe she won the debate.
I am not concerned with who "won" the debate. I am not registered in any political party, but I certainly have a political agenda. And I have priorities. I put the environment first, international peace and justice second, and American economic & legal justice third. But I have an opinion about just about every detail of politics, society and culture.
To me the debate was an important read on Bernie Sanders' foreign policy. Hillary Clinton is too hawkish for my taste, but of course she is much closer to mainstream sentiments than I am.
Bernie harps on Clinton's vote to attack Iraq (which was a war crime, if you use the Nuremberg criteria for war crimes). But Bernie's rabble rousing speeches always fail to mention his vote to attack Afghanistan (which was a war crime, if you use the Nuremberg criteria for war crimes). When pointed out, he changes the subject, as he did in the debate. When it is pointed out to his supporters, they usually go back to the Clinton Iraq vote.
In the debate there was a second part to the question. Both Hillary and Bernie were asked, by the moderators: what would you do about the U.S. troops currently in Iraq. Hillary gave a clear answer without hesitation: she would leave the troops there, subject to the situation changing. Bernie tried to evade answering, but when pinned down said, or I should say mumbled, that he would leave the troops there.
Bernie is also for fighting ISIS, preferably with other nation's armies. It is a hypocritical position for someone who claims he has been screaming for 50 years about American job losses. Isn't killing ISIS soldiers a paid job? Why should that skilled labor go to foreigners?
Forgive me if I wax sarcastic. It's the "I'm perfect," from Bernie, "He's perfect" from his chorus of followers chanting that has become irritating. But then I'm from California, in fact northern California, where a Bernie Bot seems to be lurking in every smoke-filled room. No, not tobacco.
In short, when pushed to comment, Bernie was just as hawkish as Hillary. Too hawkish for me.
I was surprised and pleased that Hillary finally started poking at Bernie's allegedly perfect Progressive credentials. I think earlier in the campaign she and her advisors assumed she would beat Bernie easily. She did not want to alienate his followers, as she will need their support in November. But his follows drank his kool-aid, not knowing, as he himself remembers, what a bad little boy he has been these past thirty years.
Hillary pointed out that he voted to deregulate derivatives. Bernie did not deny it, he just went on to change the subject. Bernie Bots would be all over Hillary if she did something like that. They would claim it is proof that she is just a pawn for Goldman Sachs. But in all the commentary I've read today (admittedly just a fraction of what there is), I have seen no Bernie Bot criticizing Bernie for that vote. Maybe Bernie Bots don't know what a financial derivative is.
The Democratic Party is no home for Socialists. I would say the Democratic Party is socialist-influenced. Sanders bought the socialist line in college (so did I). Now, in his dotage, apparently doing something about it is on his bucket list. Great. Do something about it, if you can. I personally favor mixed systems, though I would probably argue about what specifically should be socialized and what should be left to free markets. Also I favor worker ownership of business, not the centralized government bureaucratic ownership of business that Sanders favors. Though I might make an exception in some cases, like localities owning their own utility companies.
So hurray for Bernie, but I've had enough of old white socialist male domination in my lifetime (most of my friends were fellow leftist activists). I'd like to try old white female liberal domination for 4 years, especially since the alternative is Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.
I have watched a lot of bullying done by Bernie supporters both on the Internet and in my local area. At the comments section of the New York Times, for instance, you would think 98% of the Democratic Party voters favor Bernie. I've found that if I even hint to many voters around here that Hillary might be the better candidate, suddenly they want to talk. The rabidness of the Bernie Bullies is not something they can turn off. Most people need that personality defect to maintain a leftist stance in America. But bullying does not a Democracy make.