Feeling the Bern

By February 1, 2016 January 10th, 2019 No Comments

One of the more confounding (and depressing) aspects of the 2016 presidential campaign has been the strength and resilience of the self-avowed socialist Senator Bernie Sanders.  Right now, Sanders is in a statistical dead-heat with Hillary Clinton in Iowa and has a 14-point advantage in New Hampshire, according to aggregated polling data at RealCearPolitics.

Sanders has been affable and tough on the campaign trail, but even if we blame Hillary for being a bore, the maybe-imminent criminal indictment, Clinton fatigue, etc., and even if voters could forgive Sanders’ awful writings about women, his draft dodging, etc., I’d like to think that “I’m a socialist” would be a disqualifying statement for a presidential candidate, at least in the United States. But it hasn’t been a disqualifier at all; in fact, socialism may be helping drive Sanders’ success.

The trouble is that too many Americans don’t know history, and for that matter they have no idea what’s happening in the world around them.

Fox News correspondent Jessee Watters did a fine job recently of exposing a handful of Sanders’ supporters in Iowa, and the results (as usual for Watters) are pretty funny. It’s less funny when considering that these are supposedly educated, informed voters. But while it doesn’t take a college education to understand the allure and dangers of socialism, it requires a basic knowledge of history and economics, and it’s precisely because so many voters lack this that Sanders is finding and sustaining success.