Willamette Week reports that Portland’s young voters gave presidential candidate Bernie Sanders his biggest applause for the following 13 lines. Those voters might want to consider some additional facts.
1. “This campaign is sending a message to the billionaire class: Yes, we have the guts to take you on.”
Billionaires, as a class, have long pursued a strategy in America of supporting "progressive" candidates like Sanders who spout Leftist rhetoric, but somehow never really challenge the established financial powers bleeding the country dry through the manipulation of money—and these are certainly not American manufacturers like the Koch Brothers (see also Line #10 below). Again, this problem goes way, way back:
Young voters might want to notice that the Democratic zeal for bank regulation in the wake of the 2008 crisis somehow has managed to destroy smaller banks, benefitting the biggest ones. An unholy alliance of federal power and large banking power will not end well.
2. On his Supreme Court nominees: “They will have to tell the American people that their first order of business will be to overturn Citizens United.”
Giving the government further controls over freedom in political speech will do the same thing as giving government power over anything: we will get less of it. Government is an inherently anti-progressive force, for it is inevitably dominated by established powers that misuse government to protect themselves. In the Republican ideal, government is a referee, not pulling for one side or the other. All that repealing Citizens United does is protect established politicians and tilt the playing field in favor of unions; few remember that the case was about whether publishing a documentary critical of Hillary Clinton should be punished by the government. Do you really think it should be illegal to show movies critical of Hillary Clinton?
3. “The cost of war is real, and it is terrible. I believe that war should be the last resort, not the first resort.”
No one disagrees that war is a terrible outcome. The difficult question is whether or not sometimes the application of force can avoid a much worse outcome later. Recent interventions in the Middle East suggest that the U.S. government is no longer competent to use force in this way, but how much of this is due to political incoherence with our goals, and political constraints on the armed forces?
4. “Every public college and university in America will be tuition-free.”
The sad truth is that professional educators have already manipulated the government into misallocating enormous resources into higher education, sucking down billions in government money and leaving our young people holding the bag with unpayable debts. Transferring those debts to the taxpayers at large, and making them bigger, ignores the underlying problem: we need government to back off on requiring expensive credentials for employment in job after job, and to allow the economy to develop a path toward family-wage jobs for people who don’t go to college at all.
5. On the very rich: “They have unlimited sums of money. But we have something they do not have. We have a united people.”
To the extent the rich have unlimited sums of money, it is because of government. Our Constitution never authorized paper money that makes the greatest political prize control of the money printing press. The result of abandoning the Constitution’s constraint has been the very creation of the class Sanders now attacks, but Sanders would never acknowledge that it is the printing press itself that is the problem.
6. “A minimum wage of $7 an hour is a starvation wage. I applaud those cities—Seattle, Los Angeles and others—that have raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour. And that is exactly what we will do at the federal level.”
The sad truth is that many people, particularly inexperienced young people, can’t produce more value than $7 an hour. Setting higher wages locks them out of the labor market. In a healthy economy, minimum wage jobs would be a temporary transition to family-wage jobs. Instead, Leftists throw open our borders and flood the labor markets, depressing wages on a long-term basis.
7. On attendance: “Portland, you have done it better than anyone else.”
If more young people are showing up in Portland to hear Bernie Sanders than anywhere else, it speaks well of Portland’s young people as recognizing that America has significant problems and needs significant change. But socialism is a proven failure throughout the world, and the end state of the path proposed by Sanders and his ilk is starvation and misery—exactly what is unfolding now in Venezuela after its socialist experiments.
8. “Men, stand with the women and demand pay equity. There is no defensible reason why women are making 78 cents on the dollar. That has got to change.”
The relevant question is whether Americans of the same age, and the same experience, are making equal pay in the same jobs. We already have an extensive regulatory apparatus to ensure this kind of equality. Sanders is retreating to the classic socialist position: seeking the same outcome for all, irrespective of experience and qualifications—except, of course, for the elite rulers, for some are always, in Orwell’s phrase “more equal than others”. Again, down this path lies misery.
9. On Republicans: “What they mean by family values is that our gay brothers and sisters should not be able to marry and enjoy all the benefits of citizenship. I disagree.”
Republicans have long been demonized for raising concerns over the fate of children in same-sex households, and whether tax-favorable treatment should be extended, at enormous expense, to what is generally recognized as a wealthier class of Americans. Their attempts to support civil unions were not an invidious plan to deny fundamental benefits of American citizenship. Since the Supreme Court has overridden popular democratic will on this issue in most states, rejecting the Republican position, young people concerned about the Nation’s future should be worrying about more important issues.
10. On the Koch brothers: “When you have one family spending more than either political party, that is not democracy, that is oligarchy, and that has got to end.”
This claim is staggeringly misleading, insofar as Koch Industries is about #48 in organizational spending on politics. A credible claim against oligarchy might be made on the basis of the recent roles of the Clinton and Bush families, but there is no evidence whatsoever that the Koch brothers wield oligarchic power. The real oligarchs are the public union leaders who are turning effective government into a paralyzing, inefficient force destroying the economic future of the young.
11. “We see kids getting criminal records for having marijuana, but the CEOs of these large institutions get away with theft.”
The last eight years of a Democratic administration have indeed seen far less accountability for white-collar financial criminals than under the Bush Administration, with prosecutions running about 30% lower. Young people might want to ask why they would expect a President Sanders to reverse this trend rather than restoring some Republican-driven accountability. Another eight years of Democratic rule is far more likely to increase corruption than reduce it.
12. “We must end the embarrassment of this country being the only country on earth that does not guarantee workers paid medical and family leave.”
Guaranteeing paid medical and family leave sounds nice, but what this really means is a special tax on employers, and many employers are small shops that can’t afford to pay employees who aren’t there. It is a basic law of economics that the more you tax something, the less you get of it. Young people already face dwindling employment opportunities, and a President Sanders is guaranteed to make that situation a lot worse by looking at every employer as a piñata to be whacked for the “common good”.
13. “If a bank is too big to fail, I think it’s too big to exist.”
Certainly big banks like Citibank that have failed over and over again, only to be rescued by the government again and again, reflect a serious problem. But rather than set off yet another lobbying festival and mountains of wasteful litigation through legislation to break up banks, the right answer is to stop bailing them out altogether. The bankruptcy courts can dismember those banks that get into trouble. The starting point for ending banking subsidies is ending the Federal Reserve’s insane policy of lending money for nothing to the banks. Setting interest rates at nearly zero forces older Americans to work longer, and subsidizes the purchase of capital equipment that replaces jobs.
By James Buchal
Multnomah County Republican Vice-Chair