Live from Vox: Bernie Unplugged

Ezra Klein interviewed Bernie Sanders for his tyro website Pox, and it makes for fun reading. Yes, of course we know Sanders is a socialist, but it’s helpful when a socialist is as open about it as Bernie, and in places it appears he’s even too left for Klein.

Sanders emphasizes that he’s a “democratic” socialist. Oh well, then it’s okay I guess for a majority to confiscate the wealth of the minority, which is the cornerstone of socialism.

It’s a wearisome thing to go down the list of Bernie’s quarter-truths and smorgasbord socialist clichés, but a couple of them deserve comment. Like this howler on education:

In terms of education, I don’t know how you have the United States being competitive in a global economy if we do not have the best-educated workforce in the world. What does that mean? It means that everybody should be able to get all of the education they need, regardless of the income of their families. What does that mean? It means we should go back to where we were 50 years ago and what Germany and many other countries are doing, and say, “You want to go to college? You have the ability to go to college? You have the desire to go to college? Public colleges and universities will be tuition-free,” because education must be a right of all people.

Sanders is apparently ignorant of fact that proportionally fewer young people go to college in Germany than in the U.S. because Germany aggressively tracks students from an early age in a way that Sanders would be the first to object to if we had the same educational framework here in the U.S.

On the other hand, Bernie seems to be on to the defects of contemporary liberalism in a way that sounds more like Donald Trump that Trotsky. Maybe he’s just schizophrenic, but this exchange on increased immigration is revealing:

Ezra Klein: You said being a democratic socialist means a more international view. I think if you take global poverty that seriously, it leads you to conclusions that in the US are considered out of political bounds. Things like sharply raising the level of immigration we permit, even up to a level of open borders. About sharply increasing …

Bernie Sanders: Open borders? No, that’s a Koch brothers proposal.

Ezra Klein: Really?

Bernie Sanders: Of course. That’s a right-wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States. …

Ezra Klein: But it would make …

Bernie Sanders: Excuse me …

Ezra Klein: It would make a lot of global poor richer, wouldn’t it?

Bernie Sanders: It would make everybody in America poorer —you’re doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don’t think there’s any country in the world that believes in that. If you believe in a nation state or in a country called the United States or UK or Denmark or any other country, you have an obligation in my view to do everything we can to help poor people. What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.

Open borders is “a Koch brothers proposal”?? Does La Raza know this is Bernie’s view?

Bernie also inadvertently admits that the Democratic Party has turned its back on the white working class:

There was a time — I think under Roosevelt, maybe even under Truman — where it was perceived that working people were part of the Democratic Party. I think for a variety of reasons, a lot having to do with money and politics, that is no longer the case.