I have been intellectually lazy.
Not the first time, nor I suspect, the last. Like quite a number of people — professional pundits and Facebook philosophers alike — I have equated the candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.
Outsiders rule the polls right now: Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina for the Republicans; Sanders on the other side of the aisle. Trump, Carson, and Fiorina have no government experience whatsoever. None. Zilch. Nada. They have been, in order, a successful real estate magnate, a neurosurgeon and writer, and the head of one of the pre-eminent tech companies.* Bernie Sanders…
Spent eight years as mayor of Burlington, Vermont. Spent sixteen years in the House of Representatives. Has served nine years as a Senator. That is a total of thirty three years in government.
Sanders is an outsider not because he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but because he is known for going his own way. He spoke out against both TARP and the Iraq War. He was one of the 66 congressmen who voted against the Patriot Act. For much of his political career he identified himself as a socialist,** and ran his campaigns as an independent (albeit one who caucused with the Democrats). Bernie Sanders does know government, and does know how the country runs, and has real policies he wants to implement, not merely vague soundbites.
He is more qualified to run this country than any of the Republican candidates. The main advantage Hillary Clinton has over him is her years as First Lady, which, while not an elected office, gave her an up close and personal view of difficulties of running the country. Given the nastiness that is going to be lobbed at any Democratic president, her particular experience would serve her well. Especially that the press corps hate her.
Bernie Sanders would, if given a reasonably cooperative Congress,*** make a fine president. Can you say the same about Donald Trump?
Didn’t think so.
*I have heard that Carly Fiorina’s tenure as head of Hewlett Packard was disastrous for the company, but I really don’t know enough about it to say.
**Which is why, as much as I love Bernie’s positions, and have tremendous respect for the man himself, I will not be voting for him in the primaries. (The general, should he get there, is another matter entirely.) Republicans call a moderate Democratic president “socialist,” and use that as an excuse to oppose him; what would they do with an avowed socialist?
*** I want a unicorn, too.