Vote for the Socialist?

I'm certainly not planning on it, but I'll say this for Sen. Sanders: he has a refreshing habit deflating rather than hiding behind buzzwords.
Ezra Klein
I want to make a turn to foreign policy. Is there a particular foreign policy school of thought you ascribe to? Do you describe yourself as a realist or a democratic socialist?

Bernie Sanders
I don't know what that means. I trust we're all realists.

Ezra Klein
I'm not sure we are.

Bernie Sanders
I don't know what that word means.


Ezra Klein
Do you view yourself as a Zionist?

Bernie Sanders
A Zionist? What does that mean? Want to define what the word is?
I think it's fair to say that, having read this interview, you will know what Bernie Sanders really thinks about everything. I applaud him for that, even where I think he is badly wrong in his thinking. Honesty and directness are the hallmarks of a healthy democracy. We ought to share out views openly and clearly, debate them vigorously, and then choose. Lies and deceit are not befitting in the leadership of a free people. Indeed, it becomes questionable how free any democratic choice can be when its leadership habitually deceives about their intentions.


E HInes said...

We ought to share out views openly and clearly....

For a politician to do that, he has to believe the views he espouses and not be ashamed or embarrassed by them.

Eric Hines

Assistant Village Idiot said...

It may have good effect. I think Bernie is merely being evasive and clever so as not to be trapped, but he is right that the political words we use so blithely have more connotation than denotation.

E Hines said...

I'm not sure he was being evasive and clever so much as he was pushing back against a fatuous "journalist" asking fatuous questions. In other venues, he's been pretty plain-spoken without being Cruz-esque or Trump-esque inflammatory the sake of inflammation.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

If you read the rest of the interview, he doesn't have any trouble spelling out exactly what he does think. He just rejects outright the labels, and then gives a specific position instead.

I think Vox really doesn't understand him for generational reasons. Millennials, especially left-leaning ones, are all about group identity. That's how you know what positions are authentic for you, and what your privileges are (ironically this works almost the opposite way that they talk about it working: belonging to a group said to have privilege usually means you aren't as free to express a dissident opinion).

So you say "I'm a realist" rather than giving an argument for a particular position, because specific arguments are dangerous but "realist" is an approved identity. And if you're going to support Israel, Sanders ought to be a Zionist since he is certainly not an Evangelical.

What I like about him is that he's not having any of that. It's as if he's saying, 'I'm not a Zionist. I'm Bernie Sanders. Let me tell you what I think.'

Some of what he thinks is wrong -- open borders as a right-wing position? -- but he's clear about just what it is that he thinks. That's praiseworthy on its own.

MikeD said...

I will say, Bernie Sanders is definitely honest. He has never hidden who he is, or what he believes in. Now, I think what he believes in is a horror which begets worse horrors every time it is tried, but he honestly believes in it. Even when it was extremely unpopular to admit being a socialist, he embraced it.

The real issue I have with Sen. Sanders is that his entire political philosophy is based on using other people's money. And like all true believing socialists, he honestly thinks that there is a never ending wellspring of other people's money. And he simply does not believe that market forces (such as supply and demand, or economic incentives) actually do exist. But that does not make him dishonest. Merely wrong.

Texan99 said...

Too many politicians declare their "intent" in terms like "I want everyone to be happy and prosperous." What I want to know is what measures a politician proposes to pursue in furtherance of that aim, that being the only subjective intent that's very important to me. Well, of course, I'm giving the average politician credit for not wanting actively to destroy the country and immiserate its inhabitants. Even an old fraud like Hillary Clinton probably believes she wants good things for Americans, even if her genuine first priority is an ego trip and insulation from personal consequences.

Between two politicians, both of whom want "good stuff for everybody," and one of whom shares Mr. Sanders's beliefs about the actual consequences of his proposals while the other takes into account what those proposals actually have produced every time they've been tried, I guess you all know which one I choose. I've pretty much lost patience with the argument--no matter how honestly held or propounded-- that "Capitalism produces less-than-perfect results in some cases, ergo we should replace it with something that's reliably produced disasters for far more people, while incidentally undermining any concept of personal liberty or responsibility."

But yes, it's nice when a socialist admits up front that he's a socialist.

I can't quite go along with the idea that freedom is incompatible with would-be leaders given to lying. I'm afraid that's just the human condition; it's not as though we had a system available to us in which we could rest secure in the knowledge that power-seeking individuals could be trusted implicitly in stating their intentions. We have other ways to guess what people are likely to do next, such as their records and their reputations.