Bernie Sanders Is Not A Democrat, And That’s A Good Thing [Opinion]

Bernie Sanders attends an event to introduce the Raise The Wage Act in the Rayburn Room at the U.S. Capitol.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Of all the absurd smears and character attacks Bernie Sanders is forced to endure from the neoliberal elite and its media sycophants, “But he’s not even a Democrat!” is perhaps the most ridiculous one, obviously because of the fraudulent implication embedded in that non-argument.

“Both political parties have moved to the right during the neoliberal period. Today’s New Democrats are pretty much what used to be called ‘moderate Republicans.’ The ‘political revolution’ that Bernie Sanders called for, rightly, would not have greatly surprised Dwight Eisenhower,” explained Noam Chomsky in a 2016 interview with Truthout.

The Democratic Party has embraced this shift, maintaining only a facade of progressivism, expressed in occasional support for some civil and minority rights.

The Democratic Party is, in fact, a center-right party with a twist, a party devoted to serving the interests of its actual constituency — the donor class. Resistant to change, unless changing means moving to the right, the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt has abandoned its formerly trademark New Deal values, positioning itself to the right of some — for example, many European — conservative parties.

“Bernie is not even a Democrat, so why is he ripping our party apart?” whined Obama and Clinton campaigner Michael Starr Hopkins in a 2017 column penned for The Hill, seemingly fearfully suggesting that the Democratic Party needs not be ripped apart. Not only does it need to be ripped apart, Bernie Sanders — along with his progressive allies — must explode the Democratic Party and remake it in his own image.

Sanders’ platform, although he describes himself as a democratic socialist and probably personally holds those beliefs, is a classic New Deal platform of welfare capitalism and social democracy. Such policies have been successfully implemented across Europe, notably in Scandinavia, and nothing is more telling of the American shift rightward than the supposed perception of Sanders’ ideas as radical.

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No, Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat, and that’s a good thing. If he was indeed a Democrat — or what is today considered a Democrat — he would oppose free college and Medicare for all, he would support corporate welfare, he would support ridiculously expensive and highly destructive regime change wars, and he’d want to allow Wall Street to wreak havoc, for instance.

Thankfully, Sanders supports none of that, and nor does the vast majority of the American people. Americans overwhelmingly support Bernie Sanders’ policies, countless polls have shown (via Salon), and those are not the policies today’s Democratic Party truly wishes to enact.

“You are not a Democrat” is not a smear, it is a compliment, and Sanders should treat it as such.