With his convincing victory in Saturday’s Nevada caucuses, Sen. Bernie Sanders is solidifying his status as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination more than ever before.
So how did a life-long avowed socialist and someone who’s never actually won an election as a Democrat get to the top of the party’s mountain?
The simple answer is that he’s being supported by millions of younger Democratic voters, and those voters have been raised to be Sanders voters, even if their parents don’t realize it.
Here’s how it happened:
We convinced everyone college was 100% necessary, and then we made college unaffordable. Since the end of World War II, the chorus of educators, politicians, and journalists making it sound like college was essential for career success only became louder and drowned out any counterargument.
At the same time, college tuition costs have exploded thanks greatly to government programs that produced unintended, but predictable consequences. It mostly started in 1978 when more loans and subsidies became available to a greatly expanded number of students. The cost of college tuition has risen by six times more than the rate of inflation since the 1970s.
Now, millions of American young people are straddled with college loans that look impossible to repay. The total student loan debt in the U.S. now stands at more than $1.6 trillion.
Is it any wonder so many of them are attracted to a candidate who not only promises to forgive their student debts, but presents their predicament as the result of corporate greed and misplaced government priorities?
Luckily for Sanders, young voters supporting him for his college tuition forgiveness promises don’t seem to be too interested in his own family history. His wife Jane Sanders was president of the now defunct Burlington College and she and other administrators were reportedly the subjects of a long-running FBI probe that they misled bank loan officers about the real number of donations pledged to the college.
The FBI probe of the matter ended in 2018, and Jane Sanders was not charged. But the policies she oversaw, which included pushing for major campus expansions, were indicative of some of the root causes of increased college costs in America.
The establishment in both parties ignored young voters. As sacred as our politicians make college education sound, it’s nothing compared to the way leaders from both parties talk about programs for older Americans like Social Security and Medicare.
None of that is a mystery, as older Americans have always been more likely to vote. Even though voters aged 18-29 have been showing increased turnout numbers in recent elections, senior citizens still stand atop the heap. In 2016, 71% of Americans 65 and older voted compared to just 46% of 18-29-year-olds. In the 2018 midterms, that gap narrowed to 66% to 36%, but it’s still a wide gap.
All of this focus on older voters and their retirement funds is a nice sentiment but it’s misplaced. Older Americans aren’t just doing okay. A 2017 study of age-based wealth in the U.S. shows that a typical household headed by an adult 65 and older has 47 times the net worth of a household headed by younger Americans. Yep, Papa and Granny are loaded.
Now, helping older people who happen to be poor or on the margins of poverty is something different. But the cultural assumption many of us have about elderly folks needing more financial help in America is pretty much the opposite of the truth.
Throw in the Affordable Care Act, which literally and foolishly leaned on younger and healthier Americans to foot the bill for covering older and sicker people, and you see a pattern here.
Sanders talks plenty about Social Security, and he’s obviously a senior citizen himself. But he usually expands his campaign promises to include younger people, as he did when he took the lead on the Medicare for All promise in 2017.
We told them America’s house was on fire. For all the policy differences and political minutiae Democrats delve into when criticizing President Trump, the most enduring attacks on Trump from the Democratic establishment remain accusations that Trump is supporting white supremacy and is controlled by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
These are over-the-top accusations, and it’s hard to accept that even most elected Democrats actually believe them. But pushing that message on America for the last three-plus years comes at a price for both sides.
For the Democrats, the price is becoming clear: it’s made moderate presidential candidates look less viable than ever.
Think about it: if you really believe the president is a traitor and supporting violent plots against non-white Americans, is this really the time to support mainstream Democrat or Republican candidates?
Sanders may be a career politician, but he’s never been a mainstream politician. His persona and political brand fits much better into the current Democratic narrative that we’re living in desperate times.
Establishment Democrats are reaping what they sowed.
As a result, it’s looking more and more like Sanders has unstoppable momentum going into the Super Tuesday primaries and beyond. The big question now is whether that Democratic establishment will try to derail Sanders before or during the Democratic National Convention.
But either way, the party would be playing with fire and risking alienating those younger voters forever.
Sanders was on CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes” Sunday night. Giancarlo Sopo watched:
In a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday night, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders doubled down on past comments he made in the 1980s support of late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba,” Sanders told host Anderson Cooper before pivoting to defending Castro. “But it’s unfair to say that everything is bad.”
He then began parroting talking points often cited by the country’s communist government. “When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing even though Fidel Castro did it?”
While it is true that Castro implemented a reading program on the island after seizing power in a bloody revolution in 1959, Cuba’s literacy rate was already high for a Latin American nation at the time and its educational gains have been comparable to those of its peers in the years since.
As attorney Hans Bader noted in an August 2016 article, nearly eight out of 10 Cubans already knew how to read by 1950. This figure was similar to that of Costa Rica, which also achieved 100 percent literacy over the following decades — except Costa Rica and other countries did so without the kind of authoritarian dictatorship that Cubans have endured under the Castro regime for over 61 years.
According to UNESCO, Cuba had about the same literacy rate as Costa Rica and Chile in 1950 (close to 80%). And it has almost the same literacy rate as they do today (close to 100%). Meanwhile, Latin American countries that were largely illiterate in 1950 — like Peru, Brazil, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic — are largely literate today, closing much of the gap with Cuba. El Salvador had a less than 40% literacy rate in 1950, but has an 88% literacy rate today. Brazil and Peru had a less than 50% literacy rate in 1950, but today, Peru has a 94.5% literacy rate, and Brazil a 92.6% literacy rate. The Dominican Republic’s rate rose from a little over 40% to 91.8%. While Cuba made substantial progress in reducing illiteracy in Castro’s first years in power, its educational system has stagnated since, even as much of Latin America improved.
Reached by TheBlaze on Sunday evening, Dr. Andy Gomez, a retired University of Miami professor who led the school’s Cuban Studies department for decades, said the democratic socialist presidential candidate is misinforming voters about the true motives behind Castro’s literacy campaign.
“Contrary to what Senator Bernie Sanders said, the literacy campaign used by the Castro regime was part of their strategic plan to indoctrinate the Cuban people by using education at all levels in support of a Marxist ideology,” Gomez said.
Claims of Castro’s health care, education, and social achievements have been a common talking point of the Castro regime for decades.
As National Review’s Jay Nordlinger noted, in 1986 former Cuban political prisoner Armando Valladares was asked at a Harvard forum about Cuba’s literacy rate and other supposed accomplishments of the island’s communist revolution. He responded by noting that not only are many of the regime’s claims false, even if they were true, they came at the expense of basic human freedoms and dignity.
Say all those things are true. They’re not, but just say they are. Can’t you have those things without torturing people? Can’t you have them without wrongly imprisoning them? Can’t you have them without killing them? Without denying them rights? Without forbidding them to speak freely, without forbidding them to worship, without forbidding them to vote and have a normal political life and pursue their own destinies, and so on? Why is material well-being — not that Cuba has it, or anything remotely like it — but why is material well-being incompatible with freedom? Or not even with freedom: with the absence of a stifling, horrid dictatorship? Why?
Michael Smith adds:
Bernie: “We didn’t like the authoritarian aspects of Castro’s Cuban government but the first thing he did was start a literacy program!”
Castro was a man of the people!
But actually the first thing Castro did was have Che hunt down and murder anyone who opposed the regime – THEN they started a literacy program.
Commies like Bernie always say they don’t like the authoritarianism – that their collectivism is the kinder and gentler flavor – but this is a massive non sequitur because you can’t have their form of national collectivism WITHOUT it. Those who oppose the regime must be pacified – controlled, imprisoned or killed.
Let’s see how Bernie plans to keep the “billionaires” in line when they realize he plans to confiscate their wealth to fund his communist regime. Someone needs to ask him how that is going to work – will he arrest them if they move to Switzerland or Monaco?
As I watched his 60 Minutes interview, I kept thinking that this man is so steeped in his doctrinaire communism, he has become detached from reality. He thinks that just calling communism by another name or avoiding talking about the downside makes thing peachy keen. This is a true believer who can’t envision any circumstance where his ideology is wrong.
Weapons grade commie.
Some Republicans and conservatives are cheering on Bernie under the assumption Trump will win by so large a margin in November that the Democratic Party will suffer down-ballot losses. That seems like potentially irrational exuberance. Those who think that Sanders is the Democrats’ answer to Trump are looking at Comrade Bernie’s supporters disaffected with “the system,” whatever system that is.
I think the key is to watch what the stock market does. A sustained dive would be a sign that the big money is worried about a Sanders win in November. A continued bull market would be a sign the big money isn’t concerned.