Opinion | Bernie Sanders Now Too Far Right for the Left
“The Left eats its own.” This message popularized by the likes of Dave Rubin, has never been more evident than in the recent attacks on Senator Bernie Sanders for the great sin of . . . wait for it . . . not being far enough to the left. What has prompted these charges against Sanders? His hesitancy to call for the abolition of ICE and to embrace the open borders position of the Democratic Socialists of America. Yes, because Senator Sanders did not immediately embrace the insane anti-ICE rhetoric of up-start politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, he has now been cast out of his position as the star of the American Left. In a June 26th Article for the New Republic titled “Bernie Sanders Is Not the Left,” Sarah Jones details the centrist sins of Senator Sanders.
Granted, from the global perspective Sanders is not very far to the left and would be seen in many countries as a moderate or center-left politician. However, America’s founding on Classical Liberal ideals has ensured that the more authoritarian politics seen throughout the world have not found fertile ground here. In this country Sanders represents the left extreme of mainstream politics, as well he should, lest we follow the example of tyranny and genocide laid out by those nations who have embraced far left politics. Unfortunately, many on the Left seem to desire exactly that.
In the wake of last week’s primary victory by Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who made the abolition of ICE a key element of her platform, calls to abolish the agency have swept through the Left. From media figures such as Splinter’s Jack Mirkinson and The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill to politicians including Elizabeth Warren and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, “Abolish ICE” has become the battle cry of those seeking to remain in the good graces of the radical Left. However, like so much of the rhetoric of the far Left, this cry does nothing to advance a healthy discourse on the issues and instead alienates more rational voters.
Most conservatives understand that our immigration system is flawed and in serious need of reform. They understand that oversight of government agencies is essential to prevent corruption and the violation of our fundamental rights. However, they also understand that borders, and therefore border controls, are necessary to maintain the integrity of a nation, that a nation has a right to know who has entered its borders, and that these are essential parts of the legitimate functions of government. If the two sides cannot agree on these basic tenants as a starting point for discussion of immigration reform, then no meaningful progress can be made on this issue. Unfortunately, healthy discourse and rational policy solutions do not seem to be the goal of a party whose increasingly radical rhetoric seeks to sow division and to utterly transform society.
From the New Republic article, “Sanders points out cracks in the order of things, but seeks to patch up the cracks rather than change the order itself. That’s a renovation, not a revolution.” This comment reflects one of the principal failures of the modern Left, the desire for a full-scale societal revolution. Certainly, America has its problems which urgently need to be addressed, however, to entirely upend the foundations of the American political system, a system that has brought more prosperity and liberty to the world than any other system in human history, is foolish, short-sighted, and dangerous.
Why does it matter what the Democratic Socialists and others on the far left have to say about Bernie Sanders? First, their perspective is indicative of just how far to the left they have gone in the past few years. Second, since its founding in 1982, the Democratic Socialists of America have attempted to work within the Democratic Party to effect change; something that the DSA is doing more effectively now than ever before. Since 2016 many Democratic Socialist positions have become the official positions of the Democratic Party, and those with socialist sympathies comprise the most vocal segment of the Left. In 2016 it was still possible to see daylight between mainstream Democrats and Democratic Socialists. In 2018 that is increasingly difficult. This is evidenced by the speed with which Democrats have embraced the anti-ICE rhetoric of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison was even seen wearing a shirt with the phrase “Yo no creo en fronteras,” which means “I don’t believe in borders.” This is the Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee, he plays a role in defining what is mainstream for the Democratic Party.
Last week I wrote, “When Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer represent the moderates in the Democratic party, it is clear that the party has gone off the rails.” What does it mean when Bernie Sanders is too far to the right? While in a July 3rd tweet Sanders did seem to signal his support for the abolition of ICE, the damage to his reputation among the far Left may have already been done. Perhaps those on the right should celebrate Sanders being cast out of the movement he helped to ignite; After all, he was able to garner a much broader appeal than those who call for the abolition of borders ever will be able to. For all of Bernie’s flawed positions, he did not represent the darkest genocidal face of socialism. He represented a pie-in-the-sky utopian vision, that if realized would not lead to a utopia, but would also not lead to the gulag. The gulag is exactly where the radical Left of 2018 is pointing. We can only hope that enough people come to see that truth before it is too late.
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