Bernie Sanders is far to the left of European socialists

There’s a fascinating article in the latest New Yorker about Bernie Sanders’ personal brand of socialism, and how Sanders is basically to the left of “socialist” parties in the very Scandinavian countries he claims to emulate.

The main point, which is something I’ve been saying for a while, is that Sanders is an “old socialist.” And that’s not referring to his age, it’s referring to an era.

In the old days, socialists of the European and the American variety were much more politically extreme (further to the left than they are now), and they also tended not to be terribly pro-American (or at the very least, they had a certain sympathy for the Soviet Union, and other rather nasty communist states).

That’s not today’s European socialism, whose members don’t even really call themselves socialists anymore — they call themselves “social democrats.” Sound familiar? It almost sounds like what Bernie Sanders calls himself, a “democratic socialist.” And while the two phrases sound alike, there’s a yuge difference between the two. The latter, the one Sanders uses, is much more extreme, and it harkens to a bygone era of far left European socialism that has basically been debunked and rebuked both politically and economically.

Old socialists called for revolutions. New social democrats most certainly do not. They believe in pragmatism and compromise — that’s the Nordic way, according to my Social Democrat friends in Sweden. Bernie Sanders, who was recently rated the most partisan member of the US Senate (he even beat Ted Cruz), is another animal entirely. According to my Swedish friends, if you call yourself a socialist (or democratic socialist) and call for “revolution,” that puts you to the left of even the former Swedish communist party.

Set to set sail in 2019, and backed by £200m of government funding, the polar research ship will be built at the world-famous Cammell Laird shipyard on Merseyside.

The UK’s new polar research ship, which might just be named “Boaty McBoatface,” if the masses have their way.

Which brings us to Boaty McBoatface. You might have heard that the British government recently held an online contest to name a new research boat. The winning entry? “Boaty McBoatface.” That’s what can happen when you let the raw will of the masses influence policy, you can crowdsource crazy.

I remember years back when someone finally explained to me that America isn’t a true “democracy.” We are in fact a “republic.” American voters don’t get to decide every policy, they don’t get to vote on every law. Instead, the voters choose elected officials who then implement the will of the people tempered by, or at least influenced by, the elected’s own knowledge and experience.

Part of the reason for choosing a republic over a pure democracy is that people can be kind of nutty sometimes when you get them all together in one room. The heated will of the masses isn’t necessarily the best way to make policy. It’s the reason, in fact, the US House and Senate were set up the way they were. The late Senator Robert Byrd used to give a famous speech about how the House was the coffee cup and the Senate was the saucer in which the hot coffee was poured and permitted to cool before drinking. The idea being that the popular and populist will of the majority can be an important part of governance, but it’s also a dangerous part that needs to be kept in check, and tempered by cooler minds.

Here’s a bit of classic Byrd:

The Framers recognized that a minority can be right and that a majority can be wrong. They recognized that the Senate should be a true deliberative body—a forum in which to slow the passions of the House, hold them up to the light, examine them, and, thru informed debate, educate the public. The Senate is the proverbial saucer intended to cool the cup of coffee from the House.

Which brings us to New York’s Democratic electoral rules. Many have complained that under the rules, if you wanted to vote in yesterday’s Democratic primary, you were required to change their party registration to “Democrat” last October. That’s unfair, the masses cried! But is it, really? My populist gut wants to let everyone vote in the Democratic primary, and may be the best man or woman win. But then I think about it. I’m not sure I want someone elected president who was so relatively unknown six months ago that even his most ardent supporters today didn’t bother changing their party registration in order to vote for him. I want a little bit longer to cool my coffee, lest we elect Boaty McBoatface, or Donald Trump, to the highest office in the land.

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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