In the past I have heard conservatives say that, though they disagree with Bernie Sanders about almost everything, they nevertheless respect him a little bit for, at the very least, sticking to his guns and remaining ideologically true to his principles. I get this, sort of, but in the end I find it difficult to respect a man whose principles are not merely wrong but demonstrably, obviously so: Bernie may believe the same things he’s consistently believed for four decades, but they’re stupid things, and he should know they’re stupid things, and the fact that he has chosen not to know renders him a bit, well, stupid in my eyes.
He does, however, have one string to his bow that makes him, if not respectable, then at least occasionally tolerable and sometimes worth listening to: he is not afraid to criticize the idiot brigade of the modern Democratic Party. I suppose it’s understandable that, after the corrupt, Clinton-rigging Democrat machine chewed Bernie up and spit him out last year, he might be willing to take the gloves off when it comes to the donks. But give him credit, he’s right about this:
Fresh off his “Unity Tour” alongside Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez, Sen. Bernie Sanders said on Sunday that the Democratic Party needs to change. “I think what is clear to anyone who looks at where the Democratic Party today is, that the model of the Democratic Party is failing,” Sanders said on CBS’s Face the Nation.
Why does the senator have such a dim view of the party that almost turned him into a presidential candidate? Because it keeps losing. “We have a Republican president who ran as the most unpopular candidate in the modern history of this country,” Sanders said. “Republicans control the House, the Senate, two-thirds of governor chairs, and in the last eight years they have picked up 900 legislative seats. Clearly the Democratic Party has got to change.”
As far as the Vermont senator is concerned, the Democratic Party should become “a grassroots party, a party which makes decisions from the bottom on up, a party which is more dependent on small donations than large donations.” Once the party really takes up the issue of standing up “to the billionaire class,” then turnout will soar and Democrats will start winning again.
Sanders is right that the Democrats need to change, but he is wrong in believing that it’s a matter of becoming “a grassroots party,” and he is doubly wrong to think it will happen either way. Why? Because for the Democratic party to change in any meaningful sense—for a Democratic change to have any practical value at all—the shift will have to be ideological, not financial; the party would have to effect an entire change of philosophy, at which point they would stop being Democrats and just start being, well, conservatives, or at least small-r republicans.
The Democratic Party is failing because it is running a dead platform of dead ideas: centralization, massive government, high taxes, high spending, overregulation, vicious racial identity politics, literal dead babies. This is how the modern Democratic coalition is construed; these are the hills they die on, even—especially—the one about dead babies: while Bernie campaigned on behalf of Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello last week, DNC head Tom Perez threw Mello under the bus for not supporting “a woman’s right to [abortion].” So this is the Democratic Party of 2017: if you’re a corrupt career politician or a crazy old crank socialist you have a decent shot at the presidency, but if you believe it’s wrong to murder innocent human beings then you won’t even get any help in an Omaha mayoral race.
Bernie is right: this needs to change. But how likely do we think the Democratic Party—intellectually exhausted, run primarily by old white people, increasingly intolerant of even the mildest and most inoffensive instances of dissent or unorthodoxy—will change? Do you see someone like Elizabeth Warren moderating her stance on anything, or Tim Kaine returning to his hallowed centrist roots, or Kamala Harris changing her mind about the weaponization of government for the persecution of dissidents? The likelihood of any of this changing over the short-term is entirely doubtful, and the prospects of Democrats look at the national, state and local levels look correspondingly grim. Poor old Heath Mello will just have to subsist on his own out there in Omaha. Maybe Bernie can knock on some doors for him before it’s too late.