New third party may be the only answer to Sanders and radical Democrats
Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have trapped the Democratic Party. The Titanic is sinking and smart politicians should save themselves before it’s too late. The lifeboat is a third party.
No matter what happens over the next debates and primaries, the expectations of a significant portion of radical Democratic politicians and voters have been set. They are tremendously excited about Sanders and that excitement will not go away. If, for any reason, Sanders is not the Democrats’ candidate, or if his ideas do not dominate the national convention, there will be a political explosion far worse than the 1968 convention.
In the worst-case scenario, Michael Bloomberg would emerge as the Democrats’ candidate, precipitating unprecedented political violence across America, drawing from the feeling that Bloomberg bought or stole the nomination. To a lesser, but very real, degree, any other candidate, including Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama, would carry the same brand of grievance — “cheater” or “thief” — and not even Sanders himself could turn that tide if he wanted to. There is no room for a “savior” in the wings. Bloomberg’s anti-Sanders ad blitzes will only make it worse.
Substantive arguments won’t work with Sanders’s team. A large portion of his followers appear to be fully inoculated against reasonable discourse. America has seen this growing in hostile political conversation over recent years and positions are set in stone.
Sanders’s competitors will make the argument that he is extreme — and he is. Sanders’s plans are not those of the United Kingdom or Denmark; they are akin to those of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. Castro did not “generously educate” Cubans. He stole property and jailed or killed opponents. Now Sanders wants to put most, if not all, of the U.S. economy under government control, i.e., take it. Health care, energy, finance, manufacturing, e.g., mandatory placement of workers on corporate boards. He wants to begin to seize private capital through wealth taxes.
His claims that his proposals would pay for themselves, and create millions of jobs, are delivered by the Tooth Fairy.
Sanders may or may not understand any of this. Doctors would quit; health care would collapse. If Sanders had had his heart attack under “Medicare for All,” he’d likely be dead today, especially with predictable age-rationing. Energy prices, and accompanying food and consumer goods prices, would skyrocket, leading to shortages and blackouts. Sanders would try subsidies, but there would be no money for that. Collapsing productivity and massive capital flight would eliminate investment and there would be massively reduced tax revenue.
America’s trillion-dollar social safety net of Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Section 8, Medicaid and many other programs that have helped tens of millions of people cope with poverty would be starved for funds. Unemployment would skyrocket and there would be no money for public jobs. Government corruption in allocating scarce jobs and resources would spike. Our international defense would be weakened.
The one priority area where government funds likely would be directed would be the police, to suppress violent resistance as the American people realize the colossal mistake they’ve made.
We know this would happen for two reasons. First, Sanders has said again and again that this is what he wants — people just haven’t listened closely and have no grasp of the real implications of his ideas. Second, every country in the world that has tried Sanders’s brand of socialism has faced economic failure, corruption, violence and police suppression.
But Sanders’s opponents have been astoundingly incompetent in spelling out the social, political and economic consequences of his ideas, and his (largely young) followers are driven by zeal for “change” and to “do good,” along with total ignorance of fundamental economics, the fact that America has built the most generous social safety net in the world, and has made more progress on civil rights and human rights than any country in history without destroying its entire social fabric.
They don’t understand that Sanders’s “evil corporate profits” reflect investment and create real jobs and tax revenue that supports America’s safety nets and strengthen American workers’ pension funds (which are invested in the market). Sanders would kill the goose, eat the eggs and bring starvation, just like all the other socialist failures he admires.
But the die have been cast. Too many now are fully invested in Sanders’s “revolution.” Moderate Democrats are looking down the barrel of a convention largely run by Sanders, a party platform and statement of values conforming to aggressive socialism, and a catastrophe for Democratic candidates running for the House and Senate. They will be crushed by Trump and the Republicans. Checkmate.
The only reasonable strategy is to sweep the pieces off the board and form a new, moderate, left-of-center, political party and attract as many Democrat officeholders and voters to it as possible. There are a huge number of centrist Democrats who would jump into that lifeboat. It is certainly not too late — Ross Perot pulled it off at the last moment — but they need to see reality and move soon. Moderate Democrats: your move.
Grady Means is a writer (GradyMeans.com) and former corporate strategy consultant. He served in the White House as a policy assistant to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. Follow him on Twitter @gradymenas1.
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