Sunday, February 21, 2016

Getting Berned


Bernie Sanders is lying to young people today and he knows it.  He is promising to make the government into a Santa Claus and hand out money and goodies to everyone.

Bernie Sanders is intentionally lying to young people today.  Either that, or he is delusional.   It is not that the programs he is proposing might not work (and they likely won't) but that there is no way in hell this will ever pass either house of Congress, much less come up for a vote.

In case you were late for class, let me bring you up to speed.  In the last eight years, we have largely seen gridlock in Washington, as for the most part of those eight years, Republicans have blocked every move Obama has made, resulting in nothing - or darn little - getting accomplished.   The GOP has threatened to block any nomination for the Supreme Court until after the next President is sworn in - basically crippling our Supreme Court for an entire year (the same thing is happening in Poland, and people are calling this the rise of fascism there). 

Even when Obama had a friendly Congress, early into his term, it was still hard to get things done - although Obamacare did pass.   And this is not an anomaly.  When Democratic Presidents have Democratic Congresses, often not much gets done, as some obscure representative will hold out for some pork-barrel swag.  When the Republicans control it all, the same is true - gridlock does not go away, it just abates slightly.

Now, given this background, and the realization that the Democrats are not likely to sweep both houses of Congress in 2016, does the election of Bernie Sanders make any sense?  Or put more succinctly, does anything he has proposed have a snowball's chance in hell of ever becoming law, much less ever coming up for a vote?

The problem, once again, is not the politicians, but the people, who believe that Presidents are dictators and can write an enact laws as they see fit.  This is not true.  Congress holds the purse strings and can foil the best intentions of any President, as they have aptly demonstrated over the last six years.

Sanders' proposals are so far-left and so socialist that many Democrats will likely shy away from them.   Even assuming Democrats could win the House AND Senate, odds are, he could not muster a majority for major tax increases and free college and student loan forgiveness and the rest of his "social justice" platform.

I don't doubt that Sanders believes these policies would work.   That is not the point.  They would of course, not work.   People need adversity to force them to work.   Giving everything away for free sounds nice, until someone else has to pay the bill.  And when people get things for free, no one appreciate them - they are valueless.   A free college education is not worth more, but less.

And of course, the big problem I have with Sanders, is that he would view people like me - who have worked a lifetime to save up a pittance of money to retire comfortably - as the "enemy" whose savings should be confiscated to pay for his Socialist schemes, which of course would turn me, along with everyone else, into a supplicant for government assistance.   His vision of the future is a nightmare, not Shanghai-la.

But again, that is beside the point.  Sanders truly believes this nonsense would work.  He ain't lying about his belief in that.  But he would have to be a moron (apologies to all you morons out there) to really think he could get this shit through Congress.

And in that regard he is lying to these kids.  He is telling them what they want to hear ("Free Party!  Whoo-Hoo!) and not what they need to hear.   And the reality they need to hear is that Congressional elections, local elections and State elections are all far more important than Presidential ones.   State governments determine the gerrymandering used to determine election districts, which in turn sways Congressional elections.

Without a power base at the Congressional and State level, Bernie can believe in what he wants to believe in, with all his might - but none of it will ever, ever happen.

(And the young people, while vocal about supporting Sanders, are not turning out en masse to vote for him.  Primary election turnout for young people is less than it was in previous yearsOne potential caucuser in Nevada complained that the "lines were too long" so they left before voting, entirely missing the point of Democracy.   Apparently they were "feeling the Bern" at a rally, but when push came to shove, well, there was something more interesting to do.)

This of course, begs the question whether Hillary will have any better luck if she were elected.  Republicans hate Hillary with a passion, or at least project that image to their constituents.   A lot of this, like the Obama-hate, is just posturing to get the "base" all riled up and voting.   Most Republicans (like most Democrats) on the Hill don't really give a shit about Benghazi or your latest social issue.  They care about who is giving them money, and the people who give them money are only interested in money issues. 

Hillary will have about as much luck as Obama as President.  That is to say, eight more years of gridlock and incremental changes.  But at least she is being more realistic about what can and cannot be accomplished in the real world.  And both she and Senator Sanders have lived in the real world of politics in Washington long enough to know how the system works.  Hillary is at least being realistic.  Sanders is, well, lying.

And the funny thing is, Sanders supporters are the first to accuse Hillary of dishonesty.

Sorry Bernie.  I just don't buy into fairy tales.   Reality is the way it is, and I'm good with that.   We really have no other choice.

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