After Shocking Fundraising Totals, Bernie Sanders Defends European-Style Socialism

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By Adam Johnson, a freelance journalist; formerly a founder of the hardware startup Brightbox. You can follow him on Twitter at@adamjohnsonnyc. Originally published at Alternet

After raising more in 24 hours than each of the declared GOP candidates individually, Vermont senator and self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders went on ABC’s This Week to let America—and the D.C. pundit class that has already written him off—know he’s a real player in 2016.

Right out of the gate, when Stephanopoulos asked why he would be a good president, Sanders doubled down on his populist themes:

For 30 years I’ve been standing up for workers of this country and I think I’m the only candidate who is prepared to take on the billionaire class which now controls our economy and increasingly controls the political life in this country. We need a political revolution in this country.

After a bit of half-snark from Stephanopulous over his embrace of the “S” word, Sanders went on to defend democratic socialism and explain, in detail, why America should be trying to emulate Northern European countries rather than belittle them. The ABC host and former Bill Clinton advisor tried to pin the Vermont senator down, musing aloud, “I can hear the Republican attack ad now: [Sanders] wants America to look like Sweden,” to which Sanders deadpanned in response, “That’s right. And what’s wrong with that?”

Throughout the interview however, the Democratic senator went out of his way not to attack Hillary Clinton outright, repeating his broader themes about runaway inequality and corrupt elections, painting her more as a symptom than a discease:

It’s not just Hillary. It’s the Koch brothers. It’s Sheldon Adelson… I get very frightened for the future of our democracy when this becomes a battle between billionaires.

Watch the entire video below:

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  1. TG

    The pundits will be wailing that voting for Bernie Sanders is ‘throwing your vote away’, that he is running because of his ego, that his campaign is ‘quixotic’, that he’s not really a socialist (technically he is to the right of Richard Nixon, but then who isn’t nowadays?), etc. And there is some truth to these points. And it doesn’t matter.

    Two decades of ‘lesser of two evils’ voting has left us with mainstream candidates that are utterly toxic. I don’t mean not perfect, I don’t mean wrong on some important issues, I mean TOXIC. Hilary Clinton, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush… Hilary is hardly even bothering to pretend that her current populist rhetoric is fake. Astonishing.

    I proposed a corollary to lesser of two evils voting: sure, sometime the perfect is the enemy of the good. But never, ever, vote for someone who is completely and utterly opposed to your interests. If you have to choose between Pol Pot and Joseph Stalin, don’t. Bernie is not the savior. He’s just a decent guy, and his track record is quite clear that he will not sell you out for money the minute he gets elected. At this point, every vote for Bernie is a vote for sanity. It’s a vote for the letting the national interest trump big money politics and corporate media big-lie propaganda and meaningless red vs. blue tactical voting. I say Bernie 2016.

    1. Fool

      Agreed. I would also point out, re the notion “that voting for Bernie Sanders is ‘throwing your vote away’”, that a vote for Hilary to prevent a Republican win is a vote that is presupposed by America already having lost.

      1. Manny Goldstein

        Ummm, do you understand he is only running in the Democratic primaries at this point? He has repeatedly stated in the past that he will not run as an independent.

        1. jrs

          But will he even last long enough on the ballot for many states to ever get a chance to vote for him? Noone was left but Obama and Hillary by that point in 2008. Or must the entire countries voting choices be determined by what plays well in Ohio and New Hampshire and so on?

          1. sharonsj

            With the primaries, if Sanders is not on the ballot, you can write in his name. Since the Democrat establishment may be able to keep his name off, we’ll still be able to make our preferences known.

        2. Fool

          Yes, thank you, I do understand. Do you understand that there is a widely held view on the left that Hilary is the preferable candidate simply because as a “moderate” she would be a more competitive candidate in the general election?

        3. Prufrock

          I think that’s a savvy move for influence, especially post 2000. I’m pretty much expecting to vote for Bernie in the primary and Hillary in the election, but I’ve donated to and will volunteer for Bernie, and I won’t be doing the same for Hillary.

        4. Alan Smithee

          Yeah, Sanders got himself Kucinich’s old job. a few fauxgressive pundits are trying to change him into Hopey-Changey 2.0, but really it’s the same old Kabuki. Sander’s will corral the dimwitted hopium addicts into the DP fold, lose the primary and throw his support to Hillary. The faugressive twitterocracy will stand around with a stupid look on their collective mugs and wonder what happened. And by the time Hillary is launching her first drone strike no one will even remember what state Sanders is from.

          1. jonboinAR

            Sanders in the primary, then, Green Party candidate in the general.
            To all readers: Never worry that the person you’re voting for, e.g., the Green, is destined to lose. Voting for Hillary because you think she can win does not increase the effectiveness of your vote, ANY. All your vote ever does it tell the world who you would like to have in the office. Voting for a candidate for whom you have to hold your nose while pressing the button, that doesn’t tell anyone anything useful. It’s a real waste of your vote.

            1. Ormond Otvos

              Sorry, but voting Green if Sanders drops out, that just elects Scott Walker. You care?

              1. Chmee

                That’s the attitude that ensures the status quo will remain. You really have to free yourself from the constant cycle of voting AGAINST something and vote FOR something. I won’t vote R or D in any election except for my township, where the Rs are truly Rs, fiscally responsible and socially conscious, not the sociopaths that run this country (both Rs and Ds alike).

                Maybe I’d vote for Warren if she can get past the Hillary blockade. Maybe. Otherwise it’s a tie between the Greens or the Libertarians.

          2. Yata

            Hell Yes!…and no. They need this type of hype in the game, to stir any type of interest, in what would otherwise be a fairly lackluster affair of each party rolling out their respective candidates like a cotillion of the un-dead.

            You’re likely to find more interest among retail investors in equities markets than this current crop of sell-outs.

            They suck, and they know that we know that

          3. different clue

            Awwwww . . . you’re no fun. You may be correct but I will give Sanders a whirl in the primaries anyway. Unless Webb enters before Fast Track has passed and becomes visibly important in killing it for real. Webb would speak to my rage and hatred far more than that nice man Bernie Sanders.

            By the way, I remember you from Hubbalaboo. Do you still have a blog? Does it get any more visitors than it did then?

    2. Oregoncharles

      Isn’t there a technical misunderstanding here? Bernie is running IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY. At this point, Hillary is his only opponent. If he wins the primaries, he will be the Democratic nominee – HE will be the “lesser evil.” And considering his foreign affairs positions and frequent backdowns, the term applies.

      OTOH, he isn’t even a Democrat, so it’s very unlikely he’ll win the nomination. From their point of view, he’s a carpetbagger, a free rider. And the party has mechanisms to defeat insurgent candidacies like his – ask Kucinich or Dean. Personally, I think they’ll cheat if it gets close. If he does well – and raising a lot of money is a good start – he can demonstrate that there’s extensive support for his policies in the party (which makes me wonder: why are they still Democrats?). But if he loses, Hillary will be the nominee and he won’t be on the ballot in November, when it counts.

      That raises an important question that has a lot to do with personal and political integrity: what will all those Bernie supporters do if he isn’t on the ballot – much the likeliest scenario? And what will HE do? Will he promise to support the party’s eventual nominee, no matter how bad, in order to be a player in the primaries? That’s usually required – but he may just defy that requirement. And where will his voters go? Will it turn out he’s just a stalking horse for Hillary, for a right-wing party? Kucinich pretty much turned out that way.

      I’ve been saying for some time that nominating Hillary is the best thing anyone could do for the Green Party. Nominating Bernie would take us out of the equation for another 4 years. I’m not much worried about that. I do wonder what his voters will do. I think you should be thinking about it NOW. Maybe toss a few coins to the Green Party, too, just to cover your bets.

      1. washunate

        OTOH, he isn’t even a Democrat, so it’s very unlikely he’ll win the nomination.

        That seems like such an important point in all this. In an environment where people are more openly identifying as independent, Sanders is going the other way. Maybe he’s going to re-co-found the Congressional Progressive Caucus. This time they’ll do something?

        1. cwaltz

          I think that should be the new Democratic motto…..Vote for us- this time we’ll do something! *sigh*

          Let’s just hope that something isn’t a continuation of the idiocy they’ve been bringing since at least 2006. I’m a little tire of the “who could have imagined” choir from BOTH sides of the aisle.

          1. Chmee

            They always do ‘something’, it’s simply not in the best interests of the constituents, only themselves and their benefactors.

    3. HBE

      Aren’t we passed this yet, they’re all demagogues, if they have or get support from a PAC, receive more than $10,000 from any individual, or have been within the dysfunctional system for any long period, they are not your friend and not on your side no matter what flowery sentiments they may express.

      Vote third party or don’t vote at all!

      1. jrs

        To win the presidency they have to be because of the money. I’m not sure whether or not they need that much funding just to run a losing campaign for a major party (like Kucinich, Gavel etc.). For some issues to get play (this raising awareness task seems never ending) or the grand prize of the presidency itself.

    4. Oregoncharles

      What happened to my comment on this? My throwaway anecdote about the “The Third Man” is posted, but not what amounts to the Green Party position on Bernie.

        1. Oregoncharles

          It’s there now, with replies, so I jumped the gun. Odd timing, though. And thanks for responding.

    5. Ormond Otvos

      Advocating not voting is the reason I think you’re a troll. Depressing the turnout is FrankLuntzian. TparTiers will vote, you betcha!

  2. JohnnyGL

    I like this comment from TG. The guy’s in his 70s, not much point in selling out when you’re that old if you haven’t previously. Didn’t I see on this site that he was inviting the UMKC econ folks into the Senate Budgetary Committee meetings? I know he’s too nice to Israel and he brings in gravy from the military-industrial complex, but you’re never going to find a candidate that you love 100% of his views/record.

    I think there’s a lot of angst in the Democratic Party base around Clinton. As Lambert points out, the media still doesn’t like her much. The TPP talk in the media plays right into his hands. Sanders’ campaign may find itself with some momentum.

    After all, taking down Clinton in a primary (even if he loses the presidency) would be a much bigger win than Rahm, Cuomo, or any of the other big fish that faced challenges recently but still survived. Beating the Clinton machine would inspire lots more outside-the-mainstream, upstart types of challenges around the country for a whole variety of offices. It would send a message that going at billionaires head on is possible.

    I think I’ve just talked myself into donating to the guy.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I didn’t know much about the gravy from the Military-Industrial Complex.

      That would be a concern if coupled with unlimited spending…Omnipotent Empire with infinite money good anywhere in the world.

    2. Jonf

      I also like that he has an economic advisor versed in MMT. Maybe he can talk with some authority about the public purpose as opposed to the MIC or the oligarchical purpose. Hillary – nor anyone else in the clown car- can fix this. Bernie gives a clear choice. And as someone said, he won’t sell out.

  3. TedWa

    We’ve got to break up this dynastic control of the White House. We’ve had a Bush, Clinton, Bush, ObamaBush and now the only ones the MSM choose are another Clinton or Bush?? Enough is enough. About 30 years of the same errant policies by Wall St puppets and neolibs. They’ve just about killed off the real democratic party I knew and grew up with. I donated and will continue to donate to Bernie’s campaign.

    1. Mel

      “now the only ones the MSM choose are another Clinton or Bush??”

      They can cut-and-paste from stories they’ve already written. Productivity.

      1. praedor

        No. She would merely be a female version of Barack. She’d run on principles and statements of belief required to get progressive votes, then when in office go orthogonal to those positions. It would be impossible, in a real macro sense, to tell the difference between Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama.

    1. sd

      Omg, his logo is cute! And yes, that’s a compliment. Seriously, it’s cute which is just so awesome. It’s simple, not over designed, and just plain cute after years of Madison Avenue branding.

      1. Brindle

        I made my first micro donation (all I can afford thanks to the Obama economy).
        Bernie is not evil—that says a lot these days.

  4. Kurt Sperry

    Once Sanders is eliminated from the race I’ll go back to the Green Party, but until that happens I’m backing Bernie. I’m well to the left of him, but he’s close enough to where I stand for me to support him and I quite look forward to hearing his heterodox (but mostly commonsense) views given some air.

    1. Winston Smith

      Let me fix the first part.

      If Sanders is eliminated from the race..

      But yes, if Sanders does not get the election, Ms. Clinton will not get my vote either and I’ll vote Green.

      1. susan the other

        I see an interesting evolution setting up: The MIC is a dinosaur. It has no military future. So why not retool this dynamo for the greening of the planet? We’ll be out of the gate before Indonesia can say ‘polluted ocean’. But then, I do believe in science and technology. The good stuff. So re Bernie: if he is slightly to the right of Richard Nixon that implies he is a senator from the MIC. Good place to start, no?

      2. John

        No way will I vote for Clinton.
        I’m campaigning against her.
        What a pile of shit we’ve been dumped in once again.

  5. James Levy

    The Sweden line is interesting. Corey Robin has argued to my satisfaction that the reactionary/conservative mindset is sold on a few key, unalterable axioms: all systems must be hierarchical systems, and nothing good ever came into this world without conflict and struggle. In other words, there is nothing worse than equality, peace, and happiness because they are the death of all things noble, great, and worthwhile. If one does not strive for greatness (and how does one measure that? by viewing everyone else as competitors and beating them!) then life is not worth living. Such beliefs are so ingrained that they are not amenable to education or persuasion. If he is right, if these predilections are just built into the DNA/brains of a large segment of the population, then our troubles will never be over. I don’t know if they are, but the longer I live, the more I fear they are.

    1. MDBill

      Shades of the “The Third Man”.

      In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I watched the movie and heard this line IN SWITZERLAND, on a summer course. A weird, nervous titter that ran through the audience – rather as if they knew it was true.

        (And incidentally: I was watching an American movie subtitled in French – which at the time I could read. The result was a weird sensation of double vision: two versions of the dialogue going through my head at the same time.)

    2. hunkerdown

      100 generations of selective breeding surely had its hands in that. Those who need drama (i.e. a narrative that never reaches resolution) will surely have a reproductive fitness advantage over those who don’t, in a world where distribution is determined largely by one’s ability to convincingly perform society’s grand drama of the moment. It may take millennia, but I believe we could consciously shift at least some relict populations in the other direction as well.

  6. Alexandre Hanin

    What that guy says makes perfect sense. It’s reasonable, it’s clear, it’s (I think) honest.

    And that’s precisely why he cannot be elected president. They will call him a socialist, a populist, a dreamer, a dangerous revolutionary, etc., and people will believe it. Ordinary Americans have been punched in the face for so long that the mere idea of not being punched any more must sound quixotic and not quite right to them.

    1. Art Eclectic

      You never know, America might just be ready for a revolution. If not in 2016, certainly by the time the next 8 year corporatist (whichever party they hail from) is on their way out. I don’t see any way the R’s take the White House in 2016 as they will insist on nominating yet another culture warrior to sate their base and keeping the GOP base enthused will cost the general.

      1. Ian

        At the end of the next 8 year corporatists reign. We will likely live in a police state, with all the wonderful stuff that comes along with it.

    2. sd

      In Iceland, everyone laughed at the Best Party made up of artists, actors and musicians. Then the corruption scandals of the 3 main parties kept rolling in and voters said, well, they can’t f*ck up any worse than the career politicians, so let’s give them a chance. And what happened? They did a great job.

      Now the Pirate Party is up 35% in the polls, the legacy Indpendent Party is down to 22% and sinking like a stone. The Pirate Party is looking like its headed for a win in the next election.

      I think everyone is underestimating Bernie. What’s crucial next is who he asks to be his running mate.

      1. Benedict@Large

        In Iceland, right after the 2008 bank collapse there, the vote split 3 ways; for the two major parties, and ballots left blank. Blank ballots came in second, with the party in charge at the time of the collapse coming in third.

        There is a way to vote “None of the Above”.

  7. supermundane

    Robert Reich. Not a bad choice at all.

    This is what the USA and what the world needs but could Bernie, were he to become President really reign in corporate power and its hired muscle, the industrial military complex? The forces railed against him would be staggering.

    1. tim s

      True. The forces are staggering, will not roll over easily, and will not limit themselves only to political means. So be it – no time like the present….

    2. MDBill

      An excellent question. And anyone doubting the magnitude of the challenge owes it to himself to read Michael J. Glennon’s “National Security and Double Government” (and h/t to whoever it was who suggested it here on NC last week).

  8. Cassiodorus

    Some problems:

    1) Sweden is just as integrated into the global economy as the US is. The Europeans are capitalists, not socialists, and the fact that their labor agreements are tidier than ours doesn’t change that fact. What the world needs is a new, post-capitalist economy. That isn’t going to start with Bernie. Popular mobilization needs to force the issue.

    2) How do you know Bernie isn’t just the nice-looking end of a bait-and-switch scheme? Come for Bernie, stay for the Hillary?

    3) Pay attention to what they do, not what they say. Didn’t Bernie vote for the sequester like everyone else?

    4) I’m sure that, on margin, he’s better than Hillary or the Republicans. How much of “on margin” will substitute in your diet for food? What sort of “on margin” will pay the rent for you? The whole political system is so distanced from reality these days that we really do need to figure out how to fight for ourselves first rather than trusting in “leaders” to do it for us.

    1. RUKidding

      I’m very skeptical about Bernie Sanders. Think he’s running just to make some money and at the behest of the PTB to make “liberals” feel like they have a “say.” At the end of the day, Bernie won’t make it, and my bet is that he’ll turn around to his “constituents” (eg, the 99s, not the 1% who own him) and say: there, there be good little Do-Bees and vote for HRC bc lesser of two evils, don’t expect sparkle ponies, blah blah…

      I would believe Sanders more if he ran as a true “Independent” in one of the misleadlingly called “third” parties. Sanders is running in the same old same old corporate-owned D branch of the UniParty. Sanders has supported various Wars, he supports Israel. What’s the diff between him and HRC? Yes, he SAYS some things… so did Obama. Pay attention to what Bernie DOES, not what he says.

      Snake oil… JMHO.

      1. Lambert Strether

        It’s ballot access. The Democrats have it. It’s very hard to get, especially for a not-well-funded candidate.

        In generally, IMNSHO those to the left of Bernie would to better to rip him on policy for being a “centrist” (or whatever), taking advantage of an opening in discourse on policy, rather than going the “naive cynicism” route, which is both easy and disempowering.

        “I’m not gonna go to this Estates General thing! It’s infested with aristocrats!”

        * * *

        Sanders supports single payer, last I checked. Well and good! “But what has he done for us lately?” and so forth.

          1. cwaltz

            He voted for the bill after successfully getting 10 BILLION for free clinics throughout the country and getting more funding for Medicaid and after trying and failing to get a single payer bill through.

            Holding his breath and turning blue because the rest of the Senate wouldn’t give him his way probably would have been a stupid political maneuver.

            1. washunate

              That’s a different standard, though, then talking about support for single payer.

              And come on $10 billion? That’s an embarrassingly small amount of money. Healthcare is a multi-trillion dollar industry, and a lot of the problems are not needing another pot of money, but rather, needing to change how money is spent. And better Medicaid? Medicaid is a bad program; the fact that it is the most liberal part of PPACA is a statement about PPACA, not Medicaid. But even if one views Medicaid as this great and glorious program, PPACA’s implementation was absolutely stupid in using states rather than the Federal government.

              At any rate, this is the classic lesser evil demonstration. Create a horrific world, and then offer a slightly better world than awfulness, and say look, progress! If Independent Socialist Bernie Sanders wouldn’t demand something better than PPACA, why should any of the Democrats?

        1. Cassiodorus

          There’s nothing wrong with voting for Bernie Sanders, if all you want to do politically is indicate, with understated voice, that you’d like to see a better quality Democrat in the White House.

          What America needs is a fourth party, dedicated to survival for the masses in the age of late corporate hegemony. The Greens don’t appear to be going anywhere, though I currently am one.

          1. Oregoncharles

            The Green Party actually made huge gains in both fundraising and ballot access when Jill was running 2 years ago. We were on 85% of ballots, easily enough to win the Electoral College. Still not a huge number of votes – but remember, support for the legacy parties has been falling year by year. There’s a tipping point in there somewhere.

            In Britain, support for the Greens has suddenly doubled or tripled; they’re a real factor in the current election, could be king-makers (OK, PM-makers) in the next Parliament. The party system there has collapsed. Judging by the polls, the US isn’t far off that.

            I’m not real comfortable with this argument, but the fact is we’re what there is on the Left, the last party standing – and growing. Unless you have problems with some of our stands, which I gather you don’t, it would be silly to re-invent the wheel at this point. I would support forming coalitions of the left, but I don’t see potential partners, unless Rocky Anderson’s Justice Party is still a factor. There is at least one in Oregon; we need to hold some meetings with them.

            1. Cassiodorus

              Yes, all gains are “huge” if you’re as tiny as the Green Party is in the United States. The Green Party in the US is also dysfunctional, because its party apparatus can’t fund its candidates, and prone to selling out because too many of its members are “safe states” Greens, who will only support the Green candidate if the Democrat is not at risk. See e.g. Milwaukee 2004, John Cobb.


              1. different clue

                I remember with some bitterness the Greens conspiring to run McGaw against Wellstone in Minnesota with precisely the intention to get Wellstone defeated.

                Actually, they may have helped to get him killed. They put such pressure on him that he had to undertake all kinds of desperate campaign travel including a plane flight he might otherwise not have had to make.

                1. Cassiodorus

                  I rather doubt that Paul Wellstone was worried about losing an election to Ed McGaa. The Green Party was, and is, just not that popular anywhere in the United States.

    2. jrs

      1) is correct, but socialism by this time as a term has become nearly as corrupted a term as capitalism. Ok it’s not that bad, but it’s often not very meaningful. Most of the time I don’t even bother saying capitalism but just say “the existing economic system”, unless one wants to debate terms the whole time (and admit that there have been more protectionist etc. forms of capitalism at least for periods of time etc. than this neoliberal capitalism).

      Socialism is about ownership of the means of production though. Ownership by capital with a welfare state, isn’t socialism.

      1. Cassiodorus

        Socialism isn’t “corrupted,” it’s indistinct, though you yourself point out what would make it distinct — public ownership of the means of production.

    3. HotFlash

      re your point

      4) I’m sure that, on margin, he’s better than Hillary or the Republicans. How much of “on margin” will substitute in your diet for food?

      He only has to last until the end of the Dem primary. After that we vote as best we can from the candidates provided. Meantime, the Dem ‘leadership” will get a message, but the Dem voters will get another. Hey, is Jill Stein running again?

      1. Cassiodorus

        Which message does the Dem “leadership” get? That nice liberal advertising can coerce people into voting for conservative candidates? They got that one already.

    4. Alejandro

      The exchange beginning at 2:36, certainly gives plausibility to your pt. 2;

      GStef; If you lose in this nomination fight, will you support the democratic nominee?
      Bernie: Yes, I’ve done so in the past.
      GStef: Not gonna run as an independent?
      Bernie: No, absolutely not I’ve been very clear about that.

      Color me also skeptical but instead of letting anyone play pied-piper for the ‘dee’s’ or lightning rod for the ‘arrr’s, why not use the window to force the important questions? Like, “can you really?” and “how?” …

    5. washunate

      the Good Liberal Housekeeping Seal of Approval

      That was such a great line.

      Sanders voted for PPACA and weakened the Fed audit. He voted for HERA (housing bailouts). He voted for Homeland Security appropriations. He voted for cloture on defense spending. He voted to confirm the nomination of General Petraeus. And that’s all stuff he’s done years ago that I could find in 2 minutes at the Senate’s voting website. He is a part of the Democratic establishment. What exactly would people expect him to do differently?

      Glenn Greenwald nailed it so well a few years ago with his Villain Rotation description.

      1. cwaltz

        Did you actually look at any of the reasons behind WHY he chose to a change the audit or vote for the ACA?

        He was one of the initial people to call for a Fed audit and modified it after being worried that it would get vetoed by the administration.

        Seriously people at some point you might want to examine more than just a “yes” or “no” and determine if the end justified the means.

        In this case the audit actually occurred because Bernie modified the language. Would it have been better to just have had Obama veto it?

        1. washunate

          I appear to have hit a nerve by pointing out actual votes the esteemed junior Senator from Vermont has registered?

          I hear what you’re saying. I’m just pointing out there are different perspectives on the same set of facts.

          worried that it would get vetoed by the administration

          What a wonderful description of what is wrong with the Democratic party. Forcing the President to veto a more comprehensive Fed audit would have been a remarkable catalyst for discussing a whole range of issues related to financial fraud and trickle down economics.

          1. praedor

            I tend to agree. Why NOT go ahead even if a veto is forthcoming? FORCE the veto. It’s not like a veto permanently kills a bill. You get an argument started, air out the socks, inform the populace, then rejigger the bill, try again.

            Vetoes don’t stop the r3thuglican tards from rerunning the same stupid, mean spirited bills again and again. If done RIGHT it can be a good thing. Alas, the rethugs are so blindingly stupid and crazy they just do it for spite but a thinking human could do some good.

            1. washunate

              That sounds exactly why Democrats don’t push things. They want to be able to blame Republicans, even during periods when Democrats actually control the House. Senate, or White House.

              It’s especially important to manufacture false needs for compromise when you control all three!

                1. different clue

                  Another important Democratic initiative was the Obama-Boehner conspiracy to make the Bush Tax Cuts permanent.

    6. Ormond Otvos


      Except you’re going all negative, no suggestions for an alternative. Got any? I’m suspicious of concern tr0lling (nothing but rhetorical questions.)

      1. Lambert Strether

        Watch for the T-word for two reasons: 1) It’s a conversation stopper; and 2) the Google gods do not like it; it’s a sign (to them) of a dysfunctional comments section (and who’s to say they’re not right; see point #1).

        1. Cassiodorus

          One creative thing you all might do is to read my comment carefully. I’m not “going all negative.”

  9. Marko

    I would love to see Bernie win the Democratic nomination , but in the unlikely event this does occur , I hope he’ll campaign as much for new Congressional candidates as for himself. Let’s face it , FDR could be President today and , with the current Congress , we’d have trouble getting a dime increase in the minimum wage.

    The electorate needs to be educated , over and over , about the need to actually change government if you want change out of your government. A refreshing change in Potus will be totally wasted if he’s surrounded by the plutocrats’ toadies.

    1. Marko

      Bernie also needs to stop taking the bait when someone says : ” So you want the U.S. to be like Sweden ? ”

      When he answers “Yes” , he pleases true-blue progressives , but that’s about it. The better answer is : ” No , I want the U.S. to be more like the U.S. – the U.S. in the post-WWII decades , when we had a social compact , when wages rose with productivity , throughout the income distribution. We don’t have to copy Sweden , we can copy ourselves. Our better selves. “

      1. Hayek's Heelbiter

        Uprecommended. Hope someone on Sanders team reads NC and incorporate this meme into his campaign.

      2. Lambert Strether

        IIRC, he didn’t really answer “yes,” but “And what’s wrong with that?” That said, I like your riff.

        And cue the “Swedish bikini team” ads… Kidding!

        1. Marko

          Yes, I think you’re right about the precise quote. My concern stems from the fact that conservatives have refined their arguments over the years re: U.S. comparisons with Scandinavia ( e.g. small countries , homogeneous pops , etc ) , while comparisons with the Golden Age years in the U.S. would be harder for them to dispute.

          I have to admit , though , if the Swedish bikini team associates itself with Bernie’s campaign , I’ll have to reconsider.

      3. Jeff W

        Well, as a personal matter, I liked his response: “What’s wrong with that?”

        One of the issues I had with Sen. Sanders was his constant framing of the “single payer” (so-called) system in Vermont as an “experiment” that other states could look to—which conveniently ignores the over-30 national health care systems around the globe that operate on a not-for-profit or very low-profit basis. That response—and the one you’re suggesting—just recapitulates the brain-dead trope of “American exceptionalism” (or as President Obama called it, during the health whatever “debate,” “uniquely American” solutions). We don’t have to copy Sweden—we can, of course, copy ourselves—but so what if we do?

        I agree that, as a political matter, Bernie’s answer might please true-blue progressives and no one else but at what point does someone start shifting the frame of the debate?

        1. Lambert Strether

          “at what point does someone start shifting the frame of the debate”? I think the Sanders candidacy offers the left a clear chance to do that. That’s all I expect from it, but that’s enough.

          1. Code Name D

            Agreed. It was as good an answer as one could expect here.

            Sander’s hardest part will be playing chicken with the data. Polling data already shows that Americans actually want a nationalized health care system. Not single payer, but nationalized, to be paid for either at the state or federal level. And this is held without any one stumping for the idea, and despite the media demonizing it. This is an independent conclusion.

            But the media will present a counter narrative that while not backed up by data, can sure look extremely scary. There is even a name for it called “red letter” (basically equating something with communism or socialism.)

            During “the healthcare debate” DFA had to decide which plan they were going to back. Several broad strategies were considered.

            National health care is where the existing system is fully nationalized (the opposite of privatized) and is operated under government authority, organized at the federal, state, or autonomous district (such as the public school system). The system is fully funded through taxes and/or other state-levied fees, but can also include point of delivery fees for certain forms of care (such as elective cosmetics).

            Universal Care is one step from that, where the government contracts with privet firms to provide services. This could be on a for-profit bases or non-profit bases. Again, the services are paid for through taxes, state-levied fees, and on occasion point of delivery fees.

            Single Payer Care retains a private and semiautonomous (IE lightly regulated and not operating under any government charter or mandate, mostly what we have now) but is instead paid for by any number of revenue strategies. They could be paid for though taxes, or through some form of retains privet insurance system. The key difference is that every one is in the same risk pool.

            Don’t let it fool you however. While Single Payer is certainly the closet to what we have now, it has been used by other nations and has proven to be quite functional. Germany and Japan both use this system. Enrolment is based on a monthly fee taken from one’s pay check but is open to both citizens and non-citizens alike. (The difference I believe is that only those registered into the system have access to preventive care, routine check ups, vaccinations and elective services.) I think Japan will ask for reimbursement from the home nation when its citizens require medical care, but I could be wrong with that.

            DFA ended up supporting Single Payer for the simple reason that it’s the least like socialism and thus had the best chance of winning support from the population. (I am not aware of any polling data done at the time.) It also demands the fewest changes to the existing system.

            But of course (face palm) Obama decided to elect for the forth option, called the Insurance Mandate. Basically what Obamacare dose is it orders citizens to buy privet healthcare insurance… or else. And in this case, the “or else” is a fine that is larger than your expected insurance cost. (Thus you have sufficient market incentive to buy insurance from the market – to avoid the more expensive fine.) This was NOT on the reformers wish list, not even at the bottom.

            When I saw the later polling data that suggested Americans actually wanted nationalized healthcare – I was stunned. Heck even Republicans have some surprising poll numbers for nationalization. (PS: I can’t provide links for any of this as the websites that sponsored and posted this data no longer exists on the web. And I am not aware of any of the mirrors. I did save them but lost it in a hard-drive crash. Also, this was some time ago, attitudes may have changed. So yay, skepticism is proper here.)

            The counter-strategy of course is to simply brand what ever alternative with the red letter. (Socialism or communism). Failing that, they simply try to equate with the system of another country. Just the other day I ran into some one still repeating the saw of Canadian waiting lists.

            Sanders strategy needs to be to step out as quickly as possible with a detailed plan, as much detail as he can manage with his time and resources. Fortunately, activist have not been ideal and there are a plethora of plans packaged and ready to go for just this opportunity. The point is to have a specific plan to sell. This will force detractors to attack the plan itself. In contrast to trying to “draw inspiration” from other national health plans that Americans can not see and have no experience with, making it easy to demonize and leaving too many blanks-to-be-filled-in-later issues that can also be exploited.

            In fact, if Sanders were to take my advice, he would find his Surgeon General as soon as possible and recruit him into the campaign, even before the primary. (In fact, it needs to be before Iowa to do any good) and have the Presumptive Surgeon General be the main architect and defender of the plan. This puts qualified expertise into the field early and lets him not only take on the noise machine, but also the legitimate critics of the plan operating closer to the academic level.

            This will also be his only hope of wining over the jaded voters, who do have good grounds to call Sanders the fo-progressive. And lets face it, he dose have a lot to prove.

            1. Lambert Strether

              I think Canada is about as close a controlled test as we are ever going to get on health care systems. I think we should do what they do because it’s a proven success.

            2. washunate

              Polling data already shows that Americans actually want a nationalized health care system. Not single payer, but nationalized…

              I’d be curious to know what polling data you are actually using? The general consensus I remember from the healthcare debates was that a governable majority of Americans believe the federal government has a responsibility to ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable healthcare.

              The mechanism by which that happens is not important. It could be “VA for all” (nationalization), “Medicare for all” (single payer), or some form of oversight approach (such as heavily regulated pricing and access rules guiding the behavior of private actors).

              Social Security’s Old Age and Survivor’s Insurance (OASI) and Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) are both social insurance programs, not direct government ownership. And they are two of the most broadly popular programs in all the government. Unemployment insurance and SNAP (food stamps) are other examples of this concept of paying out currency units instead of the government directly owning things like grocery stores and houses.

              I’m not saying that nationalizing hospital franchises, drug dealers, medical schools, health noninsurers, and others is a terible idea. I’m just wondering why you are so dismissive of using social insurance instead of nationalization from the perspective of public opinion?

            3. Ormond Otvos

              “(PS: I can’t provide links for any of this as the websites that sponsored and posted this data no longer exists on the web. And I am not aware of any of the mirrors. I did save them but lost it in a hard-drive crash.”

              Use the Wayback Machine at

          2. Ed Walker

            That’s what I think. It takes years to change the conventional thinking of a large number of people, and it requires sacrificial goats. That’s Bernie. Certainly worth a donation for that goal.

      4. cwaltz

        Actually his answer was rather good because it leads into some of the things we haven’t done but could do like provide university tuition free or have a nationalized health care system like every other developed country. So all in all while I get your point, this direction broadens the discussion into what we could be doing in this nation if we ever stopped waging war every 15 minutes and coddling our billionaires.

      5. Guest

        @Marko – sorry, I most definitely don’t want the US to go back to what it was “in the post-WWII decades”. I remember bombing of Vietnam, treating LatAm as our colony, McCarthyism, and conspicuous consumption, and the (mainstream) labor unions who were more than happy to support the destruction of the environment and the military-industrial complex for the sake of “job creation”.

  10. ChrisFromGeorgia

    I like the way the interviewer threw out the “Socialism” remark – as if we’ve had anything remotely resembling free-market capitalism in the past 20 years.

    The choice here isn’t socialism vs. capitalism, it’s corporate socialism (welfare for the 1%, bailouts, TPP) vs. what Sanders calls “democratic” socialism which is probably to the right of the GOP platform from 1972.

    1. Lambert Strether

      There’s literally no such thing as “free market capitalism.” The “free market” is an entirely utopian concept, up there with unicorns and Magic Sparkle Ponies. Markets are always structured by the state (and failing that, a power structure). And the players structure the market, using whatever political tools they have, so that the house they own always has the edge. That’s not to say that markets have no social utility, but let’s just be clear that whenever we hear the phrase “free market,” we’re hearing bullshit.

      Adding, “probably to the right of the GOP platform from 1972.” That would be a fun comparison to make. I should look that up. The US in 1972 looks a lot like Sweden, compared to what we have today :)

      1. sleepy

        Don’t know if it was in the repub platform back then, but it was around that time that Nixon proposed a guaranteed national income and single payer healthcare. Instead of playing along, the dems decided they didn’t want Nixon to get credit for that, or became preoccuppied with Watergate, or most likely both.

        None of those two proposals seemed earthshaking at the time, even when coming from a repub, but nowadays it’s considered hardcore bolshevik.

        1. Paul Tioxon

          As usual, this site remains one most vocal Nixon revisionist at the expense of any sense of history. The following link from the Boston Globe covers the main points of contention between the two competing ‘Universal Health Plans’, one the Ted Kennedy single payer government run model and Richard Nixon’s employer mandated health care provider plan. As always, Nixon the republican wanted the market and not the government employing doctors. The democrats wanted nothing of the plan, insisting on single payer as the only realistic reform. Nixon proposed the early version of Romney Care or Obamacare but mandating employers to pay, not individuals. Kennedy regretted rejecting the republican overture realizing that nothing ever came close, until Obamacare which was a slight variation of what he previously rejected. The countervailing political opposition to universal single payer government run health care, Medicare for all, has always been the problem for dems and anyone else seeking a rational approach, much like the European models or even what is the Pacific Rim. Capitalism is the problem, always has been and will be as it continually shakes itself a boom/bust cycle from it cannot return.

          As for the guaranteed income, it was mired in the cheapskate mentality of vote buying on the part of a too shrewd Nixon, too shrewd for the conservatives of both parties and not nearly a enough to make a difference for the liberals who saw it as a charity sop of the smallest offering of help. It had a lot of support coming from the ideas of Daniel P Moynihan so the democrats could support the concept but the actual law would make it the Medicaid of extra cash in hand for the poor. Hardly an income, more like spare change.

          1. sleepy

            My post didn’t advocate for either of the two Nixon’s proposals, and I am as aware as you of the nature of those proposals, nor did I attempt historical revision.

            My point was that those positions are to the left of whatever is considered “mainstream” political views nowadays. No historical revisionism required. It is what it is.

  11. two beers

    “more like Sweden?”

    Hell, no. You’re going to have to pry my lower standard of living from my cold, dead hands.

    1. cwaltz

      LOL Who the heck wants the country to provide education to people tuition free when we can continue with our venerable tradition of bankrupting our young right out the gate!

  12. susan the other

    I would love to see someone who can argue with the best of them, not just for the stupid price of a cantaloupe, but for the environment. Tooth and nail.

  13. BondsOfSteel

    Right now, I think Bernie leads the Anyone But Clinton (ABC) vote. I think the current mainstream underestimates the ABC vote…. it’s got to be running at > 25% inside the democratic electorate.

    BTW, personally, while I admire Clinton’s achievements, I have a problem with her judgment. I still haven’t forgiven or forgotten the Iraq war vote.

  14. LAS

    Whatever else comes of this, Bernie Sanders is doing us a big favor through his entry, shifting the usual canned dialogue. That’s the first big positive in his running.

    The size of the support he gets is going to be interesting. Just a decent chunk could be enough to shake up the system. He has held many hearings during his time in Congress for the people as opposed to the big forces; he can draw on that experience. He very well may know the citizens of this country better than big media understands.

    1. jrs

      Which has a greater effect, his shifting the dialogue, or his burning through another batch of young idealists like so much kindling? I know we want and it’s easy to believe the former …

      But they wiill be burned out if a Sanders campaign loses (or if it wins and turns into an a Obamanation) Like Obama burned those voting for the first time the last decade, all those millennials are twice shy by this point. Like I’m sure Ron Paul did to many of those disturbed by the police state etc.

      1. Lambert Strether

        It’s a good argument. On the other hand, Sanders is a known quantity. I don’t see the faith-y quality in Sanders that I saw in Obama, and I think one reason the betrayal was so awful, for people who believed i him personally.

        I mean, “Bernie.” Object of near-religious veneration? Probably not.

  15. hemeantwell

    Bravo to Sanders for not running away from Sweden. For those interested in a backgrounder, Mark Blyth’s “Great Transformations” from 2001 has a useful review of the development of Swedish social democracy (currently under significant regressive pressure, unfortunately). The first chapter is tedious methodological hair-splitting, but he then settles in to good political economics, centering on a comparison between the American and Swedish responses to the Great Depression.

  16. cocoa

    Most of these Euro-Socialist regimes are more broke than we are. Regardless of medical care rights and socialized medicine, I think Sanders is great for the campaign or else we are stuck with some gradient of warmonger-for-american-business. Even Obama is allowing conflicts to occur between us,Europe and Russia over…human rights? NO. It’s for natural gas contracts. The US is helping the Saudi regime run natural gas into Turkey. Ask Joe Biden’s kid…
    Hillary, the Bushes and the Neo-liberal/Con mentality is tiresome and bad for American morale. If Bernie or Warren can tackle the infinitely evil financial system, that goes lightyears into solving our currently doomed future.

    1. Lambert Strether

      For the umpteenth time, no nation sovereign in its own currency can go broke. Unfortunately for the Europeans, they handed that sovereignty away as the political price of joining the EU (a noble endeavor, alas hijacked by banksters).

  17. kevinearick

    Have you seen the income disparity between Vermonters and Massholes occupying the State. Thanks Bernie…

    Rebooting Economies

    Only labor can reboot an economy, surprise, because it requires actual work, before the existing economy shorts itself out. You are pulling one load out and inserting another, with bridge potentiometers. The critters are scurrying all over the planet, trying to initiate another reserve currency, and scouring deep subprime with variable interest rates, because they have no idea what is coming next.

    As you now see, the vast majority on this planet has been bred to believe in a closed-system, win-lose economy, wherein the first move is to disable your opponent, not to be the best yourself, creating the black hole common of falling real values over time, covered in a dress of real estate inflation, all the bank knows. That’s what public education, law enforcement, media, credit/debt, gossip, etc. is all about, feudalism mimicking marriage, replacing parents with the State, History repeating itself.

    The coasts are now wall to wall real estate nazis, dependent upon immigration to feed the entitlement ponzi, which is rapidly collapsing globally, and the empire cannot change behavior, not only because it’s inbred, but, more importantly in this case, it is in-wired with dc computers, at exponentially increasing cost, accelerating forward, due to proprietary extortion, the increasing cost of exiting debt covenants.

    You might want to think in terms of First Aid. You need that timing pulse, which has been connected to a machine for a very long time. Given the increasing rate of corporate extortion, do you have others fix one sensor at a time, or learn to rewire the system yourself, before credit locks up at your position?

    I don’t see a world full of elevators. I see a universe full of fulcrums, of which elevators are just one transformation, time perception, in as many different directions as unique observers. Spacetime event horizons are self-biased perceptions, false assumptions shared by participants, until they blow up. The herd has been trying to replace parents long before anyone on this planet was born, with technology breeding humans to serve a political machine, agency.

    Currently, you have dc computers, hammers looking for nails in demographic deceleration, over electric, over machines, with the final actuator being watched by a sensor, with the ‘error’, you as an individual, reported back to the computer CLOUD, to be addressed, for failing to comply with the corporation- public, private and nonprofit, defined as the individual.

    Politicians merely change their positions in a distribution that never changes. You learn from the bottom up because you want to store as much as possible in reflexive muscle, and from the top down to maintain and reorganize your priorities, so you can think and act on your feet. There is nothing going on in that meeting that remotely resembles work. The State is just a counterweight.

    The advantage of being young is the energy to build the catapult. The advantage of getting old is the ability to ignore the noise of empire and watch the kids build, with a part here and there as needed. When you enter that elevator, the motor and counterweight are there, whether you care to see them or not. Faith is experience-based, not belief-based.

    What you build depends upon where you want to go, but it always begins with marriage and children. A job is just an empire identity, worth no more than 10% of your time. Wages 4X rent is the standard reversion. Adjust your rent accordingly. There is no replacement for generational development, but that never stops the herd from trying, to control the future, and you have no way of knowing what your children are on this planet to do, but grow in character.

    Family Law is the Tree of Knowledge, the counterweight, not the motor, and doing what you did yesterday, more efficiently today, is certainly not the answer, because there is always far more the empire does not know than what it does know. Funny, the more the critters study Nature, the less they see. Adjust torque and speed accordingly.

    1. Ormond Otvos

      I guess it all makes sense to you and Tim Leary, but I need a lot of fill-ins to that stuff, especially the mechanical analogies about elevators and fulcrums.
      None of that was covered in the Physics of Sociology class.

  18. Pope Ratzo

    I’d vote for Bill Ayers for president before I’d vote for Hilary or any of the Republicans.

  19. TedWa

    When your choices are either a republicrat or a democrican, an independent like Sanders is the way to go if you want change. The most we vote for either major party, the more they become exactly alike. Why not? They keep getting voted in no matter what they do – nothing is there to stop them from merging 100% on all major issues.
    Bernie 2016 !!

  20. Ed Walker

    There is no progressive leader. There are progressives, but not one willing to step in front of the parade. Bernie is that guy. It makes it easier for the next person to step up. Zephyr Teachout, Tim Wu?

    1. jonf

      If you want to make a real impact you need someone with name recognition with long coattails. Without a congress to support him/her it is all for naught – – unless your goal is to make a statement.

      But best be careful what you wish for. Lose this election and there are four guys on the Supreme Court who are or will be over 80 years old. The next President is likely (especially if he serves two terms) to select all of them. That may not matter to some, but it does to me. It will determine the direction of judicial rulings for the next twenty five years. So count me out of third or fourth party candidates and anyone most people never heard of.

      Still Bernie is a breath of fresh air. Maybe he can change the conversation. I like he reached out to Professor Kelton. While we are at it, we need to do something on the local and state levels. The democratic party is fast becoming an endangered species at those levels and that is where progressives are made.

      One word on lesser of two evils. A lesser is ok when there is no alternative, but a truly corrupt person is not. There are plenty of them in the clown car already.

      1. jrs

        What is the evidence that Hillary will make good Supreme Court nominations?

        When people say “lesser of two evils”, have they given it thought? Do they make a list on one side: evils of Hillary, on the other evils of Jeb (or whomever). Or do they just assume Dems are lesser evils. Why? Why would a party that stands for NOTHING (they aren’t even against targeted assassination and the TPP) be a lesser of two evils just because someone is in that party? Notice I didn’t say there might not be a few good individuals in the party, just that the party as such stands for absolutely nothing, so they each have to be evaluated as individuals. If they party stood for anything they’d have run someone against Obama, and tried to impeach him, he of the terror Tuesdays, the repeal of habeus corpus, the corporate dictatorship.

        1. cwaltz

          As a female there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Clinton would protect my reproductive rights. She’s got an incredible record when it comes to women’s rights. That being said, I’m not sure if I’d consider that near enough for her to secure my vote since she IS on the record as saying national security trumps human rights.

          1. washunate

            The Democrats have an incredible record of pretending to be pro-choice, absolutely.

            What have they actually done? What has Clinton herself done?

            Democrats don’t even advocate paying for abortions, one of the most common medical procedures performed on women in the US. And then there’s the blatant throwing of science under the bus, like the years-long hostility to Emergency Contraception. And the total lack of interest in keeping abortion part of medical school curriculum and keeping enough clinics open that people who can’t afford to take time off work and drive or fly across the country can actually get there. And the myriad of restrictions placed on people seeking reproductive healthcare of all kinds. And the basic embarrassment of how our country talks about sex. And the war on drugs that creates intergenerational cycles of poverty as family units are destroyed…

            But I guess Clinton would have us believe it’s all the fault of Republicans and Islamic extremists threatening our national security and video games? Don’t forget those evil video games :)


      2. TedWa

        He’s running as a Democrat, that is not a third party – or is it? There’s Republicrats and Democricans, so yeah, maybe Democratic is a 3rd party

  21. Gaylord

    TPTB should just install a robot in the White House. That’s pretty much what the Presidency has become. There will never be another FDR. Since JFK, it hasn’t mattered much what the candidates stood for, because once in office they donned the puppet strings. Sadly, that’s what would happen to a Sanders or a Warren, if ever they were allowed to get that far (probably not). The game is rigged, so it’s pretty much useless to pontificate over it.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      The PTB will do just as you say, but the pontification will continue nonetheless because the delusion of democracy is still deeply entrenched. The outright purchase of elections and legislation has not yet dispelled the collective hallucination that the Untied States is a democracy. Red-pill realism is so disempowering.

  22. cwaltz

    Haven’t decided whether I’ll vote for Bernie or not but I’m glad he’s not shying away from who he is or why he believes what he does. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again if his only contribution is a conversation on things like asking why we can’t have nice things like a health care system that doesn’t bankrupt people or a education system that also doesn’t bankrupt people then it’s a step in the right direction.

  23. ep3

    OK, at first i was concerned that while running for president, he would not be able to keep his senate seat. would be very convenient for Hillary if he loses the presidency AND the senate. One less vote that does not fall in line with the party.

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