The impact of a Bernie Sanders nomination

Kevin Williamson of National Review Online looks ahead to the possible nomination of Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders as the Democratic presidential candidate.

A Sanders nomination would turn the race on its head — and not in the way that Democrats might hope. For one thing, President Trump could reasonably present himself as the moderate in a race against Sanders, who promises “revolution” and seeks to reorganize the U.S. government — we have his own word on this — along Nordic lines. Trump, for all his bombast, proposes nothing comparable. When it comes to the major domestic activity of the U.S. government — entitlement spending — Trump seeks no meaningful change at all, promising only to defend the status quo and current benefits. Sanders seeks to impose a monopoly single-payer health-care system on the United States; Trump has learned that health-care reform is hard (“Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated,” the president says, overgeneralizing just a little), but with unemployment low, wages rising, and the growth in health-care costs slowing down slightly, his administration is under less pressure than it otherwise might be on the issue. Trump has not been successful in reordering American foreign relations or trade relations, but he has not initiated any new major wars — Tehran declined his invitation to the dance — and his trade war has played into populist passions that are shared in the main by those who support Senator Sanders, who is not exactly a free-trade man himself.

The most obvious lines of criticism that opponents might direct at President Trump — that he is bumptious and unsteady, that he is as a matter of both character and intellect poorly suited to the office, that he has defective judgment — would sound more than a little preposterous emanating from a batty socialist relic with a heaping dose of creepy on his curriculum vitae.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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