Bret on Bernie

To have our convictions knocked sideways by stronger arguments, fresh experiences, contrary evidence, maturing judgment, or simply the honesty of a second-guessing mind, is how we become educated. The alternative is intellectual stagnation, puerility, and arrogance. It takes a fanatic, or a fool, to believe that the person who’s most right is the one who almost never admits to being wrong.

Which brings me to Bernie Sanders.

[T]he presumptive Democratic front-runner communicates a sense of moral and ideological certitude — unrelentingly sustained for decades — that seems to thrill his followers but terrifies me. Other candidates have changed their views on one thing or another over the years, albeit with varying degrees of sincerity …

Not Bernie! The young man who joined the Young People’s Socialist League as a student at the University of Chicago in the early 1960s on the hoary notion that capital” should be in the hands of workers, not capitalists, is now the old man who rails compulsively against the billionaire class” and wants to nationalize the health insurance industry. The guy who was angry about the downfall of Salvador Allende’s Marxist regime in Chile in 1973 is still angry about it today.

… In 1985, as mayor of Burlington, Vt., he made the case for bread lines: Sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is because people are lining up for food,” he said. That is a good thing! In other countries, people don’t line up for food. The rich get the food and the poor starve to death.”

This isn’t just a callous comment. It reveals a whole substructure of political ignorance and moral idiocy that was altogether common among Sanders’s wing of the political left, both in the U.S. and abroad …

… [A] man who refuses to make an honest break with the worst convictions of his youth should never be entrusted with the presidency.

Bret Stephens

February 29, 2020

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