A twitter friend asked me why I was not a fan of Bernie Sanders and I promised her an answer. First let me say that I am sympathetic to Sanders basic message that one of the main problems that the US faces is the rising inequality of income. He is right about that, however, I have always believed that the problem does not have any easy solutions, and Sanders explanation for the cause of the problem is simply wrong. While American bankers especially the nontraditional one like Hedge Fund Managers and their ilk have been piggish in their approach to their compensation, they are not the prime causes of the misbalance- rather technology and to a lesser extent globalization that technology enables. I have written elsewhere about this problem but suffice it to say Sanders does not seem to have a grasp of the technology factors and his solution to globalization is a new version of protectionism. When questioned on how he would get his domestic agenda approved he states that the US needs a revolution. The only problem with that approach, is the US has never since the original revolution been a revolutionary society. It has historically been evolutionary, and its very system of government was established in such a way to limit revolutionary impulses. The greatest revolutions to occur in modern American history was the Roosevelt’s New Deal and it took the Great Depression to get it implemented. Today while there is underlying economic malaise, by all indicators the US economy is doing well
However, it’s not all these areas that would bother me about a Sanders Presidency, for ultimately as “President Sanders” would quickly find out his ability to impact economic matters is limited, it’s really the role of commander and chief and chief diplomat that counts. I have alway been what was once called a “Henry Jackson” democrat. While I think that the invasion of Iraq the second time was one of the greatest mistakes in US history, and Sanders gets points for his opposition, his opposition to the first Iraq war was mistaken. Iraq could not be allowed to have capture and sovereign neighboring state that was an ally of the US. Furthermore, his view that America can achieve its goal almost solely through diplomacy is mistaken. I believe he underestimates the vital role the US plays in the world system, and whether Americans like it or not, the US is the worlds’ policeman, with the only navy and air force to capable of carrying out that role.
When it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, I am somewhat troubled by some of his wording. As someone who believes that the occupation is a terrible thing that has gone on for two long, but see no easy solutions, on the other hand, I find some of his equivalency troubling. His website states the following position “However, while recognizing that Israel has the right to defend itself, he also strongly condemned Israeli attacks on Gaza as disproportionate and the widespread killing of civilians as completely unacceptable.” As someone who lived under two months of missile fire my answer was simple all they had to do was stop firing missiles. If Israel cannot respond with force to attacks, it can never pull out of more territory. His call for ending the blockade of Gaza without mentioning Hamas rejection of Oslo and any peace with a Jewish state is also problematic
In short I think Bernie Sander as Commander in Chief would make all but his most ardent supporters miss the days of the Obama Presidency.