On March 4, this author had tweeted: “I don't understand this craving for Bernie Sanders amongst kids from Bengal. Most of us have been forced out of Bengal because of the economic condition created by Communists. 30 years of Left rule made us all migrants.
I can't comprehend the hankering for a regime like that. Be very afraid of people who promise to end income inequality. They are going to take money from the rich and dump it in a big black hole from where it never comes back.”
As someone who was born in Kolkata, and was forced to leave the state looking for meaningful employment, like most of my peers, the damage that communists do isn’t just relegated to bad prose in textbooks.
Which is why Sanders’ announcement that he was stepping down feels like a silver lining in very dark times. If Sanders couldn’t convince people during a pandemic about his ‘everything is free’ ideas, then well he’s never going to convince them.
Ironically, while dropping out, he tweeted that they were ‘winning the struggle ideologically’.
Sanders said: “Not only are we winning the struggle ideologically, we are also winning it generationally. The future of this country is with our ideas.”
Sorry Bernie, if the future of the country was with your ideas, then you wouldn’t be dropping out. He sounds a lot like Corbyn who managed to deliver the worst Labour performance in decades and yet had the temerity to claim he had ‘won the argument’.
But that’s perhaps the sheer audacity of those with red-tinted glasses. Despite failure after failure across countries – like a nepotist star kid struggling to deliver a hit performance – communism and all its hybrid love children continued to prosper in the hallowed ivory towers of academia, paid for undoubtedly by the capitalists!
Not to say that the free market should dictate every single aspect of our lives and a civilised society shouldn't have safety nets for those who need it and even universal healthcare but Sanders’ proposals were preposterous. His bills would never pass both chambers of Congress and would be stuck in constant development hell.
Between ‘Affordable Healthcare’, ‘Free College, ‘Minimum Wage’, Sanders had what Fareed Zakaria succinctly called the Scandinavian Fantasy.
He presented his ideas as a magic realism version of the economies of Norway, Sweden or Denmark where market economics are tight, the rich are taxed, and social security is generous.
The real economies of these countries are very different from Sanders’ and Bernie Bros’ fantasia.
Not only do billionaires exist in Scandinavia but these countries have the lowest inheritance taxes. The Sanders-style socialism, Zakaria points out, existed in the 60s and beyond and was a remarkable failure. Not a single new job was created in Sweden between 1970 and 1995. In fact, in 1991 (the same year as India’s liberalisation), a free-market PM called Carl Bildt started a series of reforms which helped Sweden emerge from the slump.
The model that exists now in Sweden combines market flexibility to social security.
As Zakaria wrote: “In other words, bringing the economic system of Denmark, Sweden and Norway to the United States would mean embracing more flexible labor markets, light regulations and a deeper commitment to free trade. It would mean a more generous set of social benefits — to be paid for by taxes on the middle class and poor. If Sanders embraced all that, it would be radical indeed.”
Sanders’ proposal goes beyond that to the realms of fantasy, almost. For example, he has offered to provide the COVID-19 vaccine for free. That’s right. A vaccine which hasn’t been developed yet was being offered for free.
At one point, Sanders was surging, having amassed votes in Iowa and New Hampshire and an easy victory in Nevada. However, Biden surged back on Super Tuesday, backed by Rep Jim Clyburn in South Carolina which saw the former VP win 10 out of 14 states. The coronavirus pandemic – perhaps the best example to show his health system would work – was the final nail on the coffin in his campaign.
Cast a cold eye and realise that while Sanders might appeal to those of a certain persuasion, he has failed to build consensus among Democrats. His declarations looked like a Ponzi scheme because no one could figure out who’d pay for his promises.
All said and done, Democrats of all ilk should be glad Sanders has dropped out of the field. If Sanders had won the nomination, one could very well be looking at a repeat of the 1972 massacre of Democrats when Nixon decimated the left-leaning George McGovern by an electoral college vote count of 520 to 17, winning 49 states including McGovern’s home state of South Dakota. A Bernie nomination, aided and abetted by the Squad, would’ve resulted in a similar reversal.
While Trump embodies the worst that America has to offer – proverbially, literally, ecumenically – what Sanders suggested was as un-American as ketchup on steak.
The coronavirus pandemic has made it quite clear that the world needs adults in-charge again, that Trump is clearly not the person to lead a nation, or even a classroom, amid these turbulent times.
The best hope for the Democratic party was always to drag its politics back to the centre as Bill Clinton did in 1996, a sane place in a polarised world, which isn’t making promises and writing cheques the system can never cash.
Nirmalya Dutta is the Web Editor of The Free Press Journal.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are the author's.