Opinion: Bernie Sanders is making Democrats look stupid

Bernie Sanders is stalking the presidential nomination of a party he doesn’t belong to.

Even as Hillary Clinton grinds out the Democratic bid, it’s now fashionable to congratulate the socialist — for the issues he raises, and the salutary ways he pulls Clinton toward left-leaning millennials, saving the earth and economic justice.

Well, bull. Sanders’s campaign has been a disaster for Democrats, mitigated by the fact that Clinton is winning almost 3 million more votes than Sanders. (Clinton vs. Obama in 2008 was a near-dead heat.) Sanders promotes a vision of America that disdains capitalism, ties itself to loony-tunes supporters who praise Castro’s Cuba for a “revolution in values,” tweet that a single warm Christmas Day proves global warming, and believes that tasks covering conservatively 30 million U.S. jobs should be led, paid for, repriced, or restructured by the federal government.

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Democrats have spent 40 years recovering from their 1972 presidential landslide loss, and the last 15 years branding themselves as the “reality-based community” while labeling Republicans the “stupid party.” Yet Democrats just can’t quit a candidate whose immunity to evidence, history, fact, and science rivals former President George W. Bush at his worst.

For Sanders, the occasional invocation of myth isn’t a diversion from larger truths — his myths are his argument. Here’s what Sanders says about the minimum wage: “The current federal minimum wage is a starvation wage. It’s got to be raised to a living wage.”

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In truth, the minimum wage, inflation-adjusted, has never been anywhere near the $15 Sanders says is the minimum living wage. Its all-time high, according to the Labor Department, was $10.95 (in 2012 dollars) in 1968. There’s a reason why proposals to raise it began with Barack Obama’s $9 an hour proposal in 2012, quickly replaced by Tom Harkin’s idea to raise it to $10.10 an hour, and went from there.

Forget what Sanders says. A two-income family, each making $15 an hour at full-time jobs, would pull in about $60,000 a year. That’s more than the median household income — and enough to buy the median-priced house with about $35,000 to spare. On minimum wage. (At $12, a full-time worker makes double the poverty-line income for a single adult). So it’s not enough to buy a house in San Francisco or Manhattan. But that’s only an argument for letting cities experiment with higher minimums, which is already happening.       

If you take Sanders seriously that the point of his minimum-wage plan is simply to recover ground lost to corporate fat-cattery, remember you can’t spell Bernie Sanders without BS.

On energy, Sanders is against new oil-and-gas drilling technology even after fracking caused a price collapse, saving households about $1,000 a year, while reducing carbon emissions. “Fracking pollutes water, degrades air quality and worsens climate change. No amount of regulation can make it safe,” Sanders said.

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Senator, the people saving a grand a year are your constituency. (Fat cats have taken it in the neck, your old pal Aubrey McClendon in particular.) Fracking has also demolished the coal industry, leading to a 15% decline in U.S. carbon emissions from electricity-making as natural gas undercuts coal’s price. That’s the best news on climate change ever, and only the beginning. A near-instant shift to wind and solar won’t happen, and wishing won’t make it so: With generous subsidies already in place, wind and solar have tripled their share of U.S. generation since 2008 to 6%.

Petroleum-based energy isn’t going anywhere, and making it prohibitively expensive won’t develop electric cars (the big missing link) any faster. Pretending otherwise makes liberals the Stupid Party.

As for the banks, Sanders won’t let go of the hobbyhorse that the size of U.S. banks, and letting banks own investment banks, caused 2008’s financial crisis. That was debunked years ago — subprime-mortgage defaults first swamped specialty mortgage banks, even savings and loans. (Say it ain’t so, George Bailey!). No mega-commercial bank was even threatened by its investment-banking arm.

There’s a reason Sanders can’t coherently explain his plan for breaking up banks — he doesn’t know the first thing about them. Inchoate rage, while in order, is not a plan. Smart liberals raised banks’ capital requirements.

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To Sanders, Europe is a vision of Heaven on earth: “I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn what they have accomplished for their working people,” he said.

Really? Europe, the continent with 10.2% unemployment and 0.8% annual growth in gross domestic product since 2010? Where Switzerland and Germany have private health insurance, with deductibles, much like the Obamacare Sanders dismisses?  Where Norway pays for cradle-to-grave services — with oil money? And Sweden sports 7.2% unemployment? Witty.

By definition, liberalism includes openness to new views. It’s adaptable and data-driven — one reason it’s completely compatible with capitalism, not antithetical, as Sanders contends. Adaptable and data-driven are the last words for Sanders. As Sanders’s campaign undermines liberalism’s hard-won edge, it sets back both the causes and people liberalism wants to help.

View more information: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/bernie-sanders-is-making-democrats-look-stupid-2016-05-13

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