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The Myth of Bernie Sanders’ Honesty – OpEd

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Ah, feel the Bern. Love him or hate him — and avowed socialist Bernie Sanders does evoke extremes in feeling — even conservatives will credit him with being honest. But they shouldn’t. Not only has the Vermont senator and presidential contender changed positions to capture today’s “woke” Democrat Party left flank, but there are three factors to be considered when assessing honesty, and Sanders fails in the most dangerous way possible. 

Oh, he certainly possesses authentic passion. Sanders isn’t empty to the core, as an early Arkansas Democrat critic said of Bill Clinton; he’s not a full-fledged opportunist such as Queen of Mean Amy Klobuchar or Pistol Pete Buttigieg, whose Marxist father, unbelievably, was a founding member of the International Gramsci Society (you can’t make this stuff up!). Nonetheless, Sanders would certainly understand late comedian Lenny Bruce’s observation, “We’re all as honest as we can afford to be.” 

First there are the obvious, Romney-esque flip-flops. Sanders used to take what was once a not uncommon liberal position on immigration: Warning of how foreigners could take jobs from American workers and lower their wages (late head of the United Farm Workers union Cesar Chavez was a staunch opponent of illegal migration). Now he proposes decriminalizing border jumping, breaking up ICE and CBP and insists that free health care for illegals is a human right. 

Sanders would also often part with Democrats and support Second Amendment rights, being from a largely rural state with little crime and a notable gun culture. But he flip-flopped badly enough in 2016 on protecting firearms manufacturers from unjust lawsuits that even Hillary Clinton could launch an attack on him while telling the truth. Oh, Bernie, we hardly knew ya’!

Yet these walk-backs are obvious and expected. Far more dangerous is the unseen dishonesty.

A great saying informs, “A man capable of deceiving only others is not nearly as dangerous as a man capable of deceiving himself.” The worst deception is self-deception. A normally dishonest person is to be reviled, but he could conceivably experience conscience pangs and decide to tell others the truth. But the self-deluded mislead others as a matter of course simply by relating what they’ve convinced themselves is truth, and, barring an epiphany-inducing conversion of heart and soul, can never set the record straight because their own perception is crooked. 

I have great doubt there were many intellectually honest socialists even in the days of the Fabian Society and George Bernard Shaw. But now, being able to look back on the ideology’s history of blood and broken promises and economies — starting with Robert Owen’s failed New Harmony project in 1825 to the Bolsheviks to the Maoists to the Khmer Rouge and to Venezuela most recently, where people were eating cats and dogs — they must be rarer than a chaste starlet in Hollywood.

Socialism fails because it ignores man’s nature, that without a profit motive most people won’t be productive; wealth creation must be incentivized, and insofar as it’s not, poverty and suffering result. 

Even the Soviets recognized that man’s nature contravened their aims. This is why the self-delusion of Lysenkoism, which preached the heritability of acquired traits (e.g., a plant whose leaves are plucked will have leafless descendants), was their official biological “science” until 1964. They knew that without an alteration in man’s nature that people could transmit to their progeny, their socialist program was imperiled.

While Sanders is no genius and more wizened than wise, he’s not a dumb man, either. So is there an excuse for his not knowing, at this late date, the devil he dances with in socialism? It’s like a 21st-century psychiatrist still subscribing to trepanation or a modern investment advisor recommending alchemy to increase precious metals holdings. It’s gross, damnable malpractice. 

Yet, actually, while there may be no excuse for Sanders, there is an explanation. It’s called self-deception — and it’s anything but honest. 

Then there’s the final factor to consider. People will state regarding Sanders, “Wow, say what you want about him, he’s sincere and just lets it all hang out. He flat out says he’s a socialist!” The idea is that the man is truly an open book. 

Yet this is a flawed, dangerous analysis. It’s wiser to ask: If the beliefs Sanders openly espouses are this radical, how radical are the beliefs he’s keeping hidden

Remember, again, as with all politicians, Sanders is “as honest as [he] can afford to be.” Everyone has filters. The Brooklyn-born son of an immigrant was a socialist activist long before he won political office (Mayor of Burlington, Vt.) at age 40. So masquerading as, let’s say, a Mitt Romney would never have flown. Moreover, you don’t have to provide all the details — in fact, you must avoid doing so — but you can’t ever effect socialism without creating a movement of fellow travelers. And proselytization is a prerequisite for doing this.

So Sanders had to find a place where his known radicalism was acceptable; ergo the Green Mountain State (where there just must be something in the water). He has been safely and lucratively ensconced in its politics ever since. 

But what may Sanders be hiding that might not even be Vermont-approved? Well, note that recent Project Veritas undercover videos showed his campaign staff talking about putting political opponents in gulags, Soviet style, and even summarily executing them. (This, not to mention the Bernie supporter who committed the 2017 congressional baseball shooting and the one who just tried to burn a Calif. GOP office.) Of course, it would be unfair to definitively attribute to a man beliefs stated, unauthorized, by underlings. 

Except that Sanders has not fired even one of these Marxists.

Consider as well that Bernie honeymooned in the Soviet Union and defended that evil empire’s bread lines. 

So does the senator condone his underlings’ plans? The media aren’t asking — and he’s not telling. But in this case, inaction speaks louder than words, and birds of a feather….

Also note that one Sanders strange bird, Iowa field organizer Kyle Jurek, agrees with my assessment. “I think that he’s a legit socialist masquerading as a democratic socialist,” he said of his boss.

“Masquerading,” of course, is to pretend to be someone you’re not, and it characterizes politicians. So unless you’d risk a Bolshevik Bern, perhaps you should take the advice here of another left-winger, the late writer Maya Angelou: “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

Don’t be sandbagged by Sanders — because he’s many things, but honest ain’t one of ‘em.

Selywn Duke

Selywn Duke

Selywn Duke is a columnist and author.

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