by Jamie Peck
And my initial thought was, "So what? They're not Democrats!"
But it then occurred to me that many people, friends of mine included, might be confused by the fact that these candidates say they're Democrats and they put "(D)" after their names. Then again, many of these same friends of mine also believe that a person can become a gazebo by saying he's a gazebo. In other words, they have some trouble aligning identity with reality.
So it's worth pointing out what a "Bernie Sanders-style candidate" is.
Until the last election -- 2016, folks -- Bernie Sanders was an independent. He became a Democrat for expediency and because the Democrats had deep enough pockets to support him. But he said at the outset that despite the branding, he would continue to identify as an independent. And the Democrats accepted him because they needed meaningful primaries to give Hillary Clinton some street cred for the general election, not because they ever had any intention of allowing him to succeed. (In practice, the DNC proved this by gaming the primary rules in favor of Clinton.)
In a philosophical sense, Bernie Sanders is a Socialist. Until he got his name out there, there wasn't much political benefit in actually calling yourself a Socialist (hence, "Independent"), but he's a Socialist just the same. Having saddled themselves with a Socialist candidate, many Democrats began the wiggling and the twisting and the spinning and the picking of nits to clarify whether he's a "Democratic Socialist" or a "Social Democrat", etc., but in doing so they disagree with what Sanders says about himself. He's a Socialist and makes no bones about it. The nit-pickers backing him are the ones who are apologetic, not Bernie.
Some sophists have declared that Sanders is not a Socialist in the sense of the defunct Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Where "true" Socialists would have the government actually own industry, Sanders does not. These folks overlook the fact that Sanders is also not an idiot, and has a strong streak of pragmatism. It is the difference between philosophy and what is possible. To use a football analogy, rather than seeking a touchdown in one play, Sanders is advancing the ball. One cannot win an election in the United States by stealing companies from their stockholders (all of whom are voters). So Sanders would have the government own industry in everything but name. It's a matter of who has the control, rather than whose name is on the deed, but the end is the same. It has little to do with Democracy, and everything to do with populism. When you call him "Welfarist" rather than "Socialist", you're just playing with labels.
"Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." - Alexis de TocquevilleBut something you should know about the Democratic Party is that, although they would regulate business, they would leave it at that. By and large, they still believe in a free market economy and robust competition. The Democratic party is not historically Socialist. Certainly not in the way that Sanders is... he has no love for the free market. And Sanders has never aligned himself with the Democrats because he shares their beliefs. While he does share the tribal goal of denying Republicans success, his stated goal is to reform the Democratic Party into something more akin to himself.
Among the rank and file, he's had some success. But the DNC is not the rank and file. And though it may not be clear to the masses, the Party is properly something you join... it's not something that joins you.
So when the DNC is faced with "Democratic" candidates who are Democrats in name only, and who, if given the reins, would change the direction of the Party away from their traditional values, should they finance their own demise? Really? I don't think so. I think they're right to deny funding to usurpers.
I also think that those who would reshape the Party are better served by adopting honesty as a policy, and declaring themselves for what they are. If you're going to be a Socialist, then by God, be a Socialist. Of course, in party politics it's never truly about honesty, it's about "winning", where "winning" is defined as "gaining control". There is a compelling argument to be made that, by lying about their true intentions to pick the DNC's own pockets in order to destroy them through "reform", the Socialists are being as "honest" and true to their own nature as can be reasonably expected.
The author has some experience in honestly embracing his political philosophy, as he switched his affiliation from the Repubican Party to the Libertarian following the realization that right-wing hypocrites and left-wing hypocrites are both hypocrites.