Anti-Sanders rhetoric series: It can’t happen here

Published online 1 October 2015.

I’m sure there are plenty of examples of the sort of rhetoric I will discuss here.  There is a species of anti-Sanders rhetoric which dismisses Sanders’ policy proposals as impractical while minimizing or ignoring the means by which they might be accomplished.  In today’s stenographer-of-power’s memo online Washington Post one can now read David A. Fahrenthold’s piece, “How Bernie Sanders would transform the nation.”  Here is what Fahrenthold argues:

In the America that Bernie Sanders wants to create, tuition would be free for every student at every public college.Which, of course, is another way of saying that the government would pay for it. To do that, the Democratic presidential candidate would spend $750 billion over 10 years, and raise the money with a new tax on Wall Street trades.

And, once government was paying for college, colleges would run by government rules. Sanders’s rules. For one thing, Sanders thinks student centers are a waste of government money. He’d make sure they didn’t get any more of it.

Which is a really lousy piece of spin on what Sanders is actually proposing.  Anyone can read the “College For All Act” to discover a clause which says:”No funding under this program (my emphasis) may be used to fund administrator salaries, merit-based financial aid, or the construction of non-academic buildings like stadiums and student centers. ”

Nobody outside of the writers of hit pieces is saying that Sanders would forbid the states from constructing student centers.

Fahrenthold continues:

If he becomes president, Sanders would spend an enormous amount of money: $3.27 trillion.

Omigod it’s going to increase the deficit!  Democrats spread this Pete Peterson nonsense too, even though it was all refuted in the diaries of letsgetitdone some time ago.  As letsgetitdone says:

there is nothing to the gospel of deficit reductions, surplus budgets, and fiscal austerity except human misery

The fact of the matter is that Dick Cheney was far to the left of most of Congress today when he said in 2002 that “deficits don’t matter.”  None of those people understand dollar hegemony.Oh and where does this figure come from?  The Salon corrective to the earlier, failed Wall Street Journal hit piece tells us:

But the reality is that we’re only looking at $1.8 trillion a year under Bernie’s sweeping proposals.

But of course Fahrenthold isn’t worried.  Nothing’s going to happen anyway, you see:

Bernie Sanders — a senator from Vermont who describes himself as a “democratic socialist” — will never get everything he wants in Washington.  And that still would be true if he became President Sanders. Republicans in the Congress would fight him fiercely. Democrats might not be much help. In fact, Sanders’s most recent Senate bills — legislation that would make college free and provide universal health care — attracted exactly zero Democrats as co-sponsors.

Yep, all of the good neoliberals in DC will stop that “political revolution” which will make Sanders’ policy proposals possible, and so it’s all kewl.  As long as we assume that the situation with Federal-level power will remain the same tomorrow as it is today, we can dismiss utopian proposals to *gasp* make things better, or some other such stupid sh*t.Sanders himself makes the necessity of political revolution clear.  For those who wish to view the video again:

At any rate, the anti-Sanders people who use this political tack, from the folks who wrote the Wall Street Journal hit piece to Fahrenthold, need a theme song, and so here it is, courtesy of the Mothers of Invention, from 1966:

That’s right, folks, it can’t happen here.  America is impervious to political revolution, except when it’s not.

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