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Bernie Sanders

Tomorrow I will meet my fall 2017 semester students for the first time. Though I am teaching three different courses, all three of my opening day lectures will focus on the same point. All of my students will read a concise description of the dangers of political amateurism written last month by political science professor and blogger Julia Azari.

Azari’s thesis is simple and her perspective widely shared by political scientists. Democracy is not easy and widespread public political ignorance and apathy has long created fertile ground for populist calls for the elevation of political outsiders to power.  The problem is that political outsiders inevitably promote what Azari calls “the pernicious myth of populism that beneath elite squabbles there exists widespread unity of principles” among average Americans. Of course, there is no such consensus. Americans are committed to broadly defined ideals, like freedom, equality, and individual rights, but not agreed on precise definitions of these ideas or on how to realize them.  For that, they need professional help. 

The intransigent defiance of many Bernie Sanders disciples demonstrates the tension of individualism versus membership in a political community.

One Bernie Sanders legacy is more positive feelings toward socialism among the young, but what does socialism mean? Is Scandinavian style "socialism" really socialism, and could it succeed in America?

Move over Jeff Jacoby, Eric Fehrnstrom’s appears to be gunning for your beat over at the Globe. A couple weeks back I gently debunked Fehrnstrom’s transparently weak argument that Trump could beat Clinton. This week, he has published an even more transparently weak attack on Hillary Clinton’s candidacy that I will herein debunk a bit less gently. Frankly, Mr. Fehrnstrom writes like a graduating senior taking a course pass-fail, though I’m not sure he deserves credit for giving it “the old college try.”

Conservative social scientist Charles Murray and progressive economist Thomas Piketty come to different conclusions about the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders is a socialist, Ronald Reagan is the avatar of free market capitalism. But their presidential announcement speeches share this trait: they both address you, the citizen, with the dignity you deserve.

Speculation about when or if Senator Elizabeth Warren would endorse one of the candidates battling for her party’s nomination has been hot and heavy.  Sanders’ backers, in particular, have been confidently speculating that Warren would eventually side with Bernie.  The truth is that Warren will not endorse until the nomination is a fait accompli.  She will not put her foot on the scale to help the now faltering protest candidacy of Bernie Sanders primarily because she believes in the Democratic Party.  She believes that a strong united Democratic Party is the key to electoral victory and policy accomplishment.

Candidates, campaign operatives, high profile donors and endorsers, media analysts, and reporters all have very strong incentives to base their electoral projections primarily on factors that their target audiences both understand and believe credible. Unfortunately, that means willfully discounting the single most potent and predictive factor in election outcomes, party identity. Of course, if campaigners, pollsters, and media pundits took the role of party leanings more seriously, most of them would be out of a job.

Here are a few topics left on the cutting room floor of political discussion: how progressives are like the Direct TV ads The Settlers; funny things Marco Rubio says; Donald Trump, voting rights activist; and Ted Cruz, progressive.

Money had a good day and the citizens a bad day at the Iowa caucuses. In other words, business as usual in our campaign farce-ocracy.

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