by Avi Davis
One of the most remarkable things about Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas was not the way the candidates sought to differentiate themselves from one another, but rather how much they struggled to make themselves look the same.
Part of this was due to the presence of a 72 -year-old firebrand, whose ideological weight made the stage sag way down to the far left and had all the candidates tumbling in that direction. Bernie Sanders, with his calls for a political revolution, a crusade against Wall Street, free college tuition for all Americans and the break up of national banks sounded more like Fidel Castro in 1959, than a modern day American presidential contender. And yet, he received by far the greatest applause of the evening, so long lasting that at one point the debate began to resemble a rally rather than a genuine exchange of ideas between thoughtful progressive candidates.
What is truly remarkable is how little resistance these entirely bankrupt and out- of-date ideas received from the other candidates. When Jim Webb meekly attempted to challenge Sanders’ wild rhetoric – pointing out that a political revolution is not exactly on the horizon and that Congress was unlikely to pay for the exorbitant programs Sanders was proposing, his criticisms were met with deafening silence. Hillary Clinton, the long favored front runner, seemed too busy touting her experience and the fact that she is a female to be much engaged in confronting both Sanders’ and the audience’s silliness.
But letting this stuff go bears consequences. That is because Sanders now has a national voice – which he may not have had before – and his brand of socialist propaganda, which would never have passed muster 22 years ago when Bill Clinton faced off against his Democratic challengers, is going to be taken seriously in the upcoming presidential race.
The extraordinary thing is that here we are in 2015, twenty five years after the collapse of the world’s greatest failed experiment in socialism, in a country, by dint of its free enterprise system, which has ensured a greater level of prosperity for a greater proportion of its population, than any other nation in history. Each one of the candidates harped on the great income disparity between rich and poor ( “the greatest gap since the 1920s!,” at least three of them howled) – but its all quite relative. Even those in the lowest income brackets in our society today live lives of comfort and ease when compared to the existences of those same poor in the 1920s. Cell phones, 50″ television screens, owner-owned cars and a variety of other electronic possessions can be seen in the homes of the most dirt poor areas of Detroit, New Orleans and East Los Angeles. While these are not true determinants of income, they are symbols of an affluence that the poor in the rest of the world deeply envy and why so many are risking their lives as illegal immigrants to cross our borders.
No one on that stage last night should have needed a history lesson in how socialism actually operates in the real world and how it significantly failed millions and upon millions of its adherents in the 20th Century.
But apparently no one was bold enough to stand up to Sanders and call him out for the ridiculous figure he casts in 21st Century American politics. They were all too busy retreading tired liberal tropes about brutal police tactics, institutional racism, billionaire avarice, climate change exigencies, Republican obstructionism, Wall Street chicanery and pharmaceutical industry malfeasance – all of which form part of Bernie Sanders’ bucket list of complaints against America.
And while Sanders was barking his socialist wares, Hillary Clinton was left free to address the country’s significant problems with broad platitudes. Although CNN host Anderson Cooper admirably continued to grill her about the consuming email scandal and her failures regarding Benghazi, none of her competitors seemed to consider these considerable vulnerabilities to be fair game. Sanders actually offered her a hand out of the furnace, seeming to agree with her that the concern of the country over her honesty and good faith, are not matters worthy of general discussion in Democratic circles but should be remaindered as Republican scare tactics.
The other big winner of the night was Barack Obama. None of the candidates sought to distance themselves from Obama’s abysmal foreign policy record, the sluggish U.S. economy, his failures to assist his much venerated middle class, nor the Obamacare fiasco that any of them would need to fix immediately should they become President. Clinton, whom the White House appears not too eager to see as as a presidential successor, went out of her way to avoid attacking Obama’s record and legacy, carefully sidestepping his most egregious failures.
This was the weak and uncourageous field which stood before the American public on the stage in Las Vegas last night. We deserved and deserve much better.
Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of The Intermediate Zone