David Brooks: I may vote for Trump over Sanders

Today’s New York Times has a surprising column in which David Brooks says that while he’d vote for Elizabeth Warren over Trump, he wouldn’t do so if the Democratic candidate were Bernie Sanders.  As he says at the beginning of his column, “Now I have to decide if I’d support Bernie Sanders over Trump.”

Click on the screenshot below to read:

The reasons? He sees Sanders installing an authoritarian socialist government, not a democratic socialist one.

I quote from Brooks:

We all start from personal experience. I covered the Soviet Union in its final decrepit years. The Soviet and allied regimes had already slaughtered 20 million people through things like mass executions and intentional famines. Those regimes were slave states. They enslaved whole peoples and took away the right to say what they wanted, live where they wanted and harvest the fruits of their labor.

And yet every day we find more old quotes from Sanders apologizing for this sort of slave regime, whether in the Soviet Union, Cuba or Nicaragua. He excused the Nicaraguan communists when they took away the civil liberties of their citizens. He’s still making excuses for Castro.

To sympathize with these revolutions in the 1920s was acceptable, given their original high ideals. To do so after the Hitler-Stalin pact, or in the 1950s, is appalling. To do so in the 1980s is morally unfathomable.

Well, as far as I know, Bernie has backed off those positions, and it’s a certainty he would be unable to reinstate regimes like Soviet Russia or Communist Cuba in the U.S. Is that really a worry? Brooks thinks so:

I say all this because the intellectual suppositions that led him to embrace these views still guide his thinking today. I’ve just watched populism destroy traditional conservatism in the G.O.P. I’m here to tell you that Bernie Sanders is not a liberal Democrat. He’s what replaces liberal Democrats.

. . . [Traditional]  liberalism believes in gaining power the traditional way: building coalitions, working within the constitutional system and crafting the sort of compromises you need in a complex, pluralistic society.

This is why liberals like Hubert Humphrey, Ted Kennedy and Elizabeth Warren were and are such effective senators. They worked within the system, negotiated and practiced the art of politics.

Populists like Sanders speak as if the whole system is irredeemably corrupt. Sanders was a useless House member and has been a marginal senator because he doesn’t operate within this system or believe in this theory of change.

He believes in revolutionary mass mobilization and, once an election has been won, rule by majoritarian domination. This is how populists of left and right are ruling all over the world, and it is exactly what our founders feared most and tried hard to prevent.

. . . Sanders’s leadership style embodies the populist values, which are different: rage, bitter and relentless polarization, a demand for ideological purity among your friends and incessant hatred for your supposed foes.

Brooks claims that Sanders, once in power, would impose a crushingly authoritarian regime, and is merely dissimulating in the campaign and in the debates:

These days, Sanders masquerades as something less revolutionary than he really is. He claims to be nothing more than the continuation of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. He is 5 percent right and 95 percent wrong.

. . .For the past century, liberal Democrats from F.D.R. to Barack Obama knew how to beat back threats from the populist left. They knew how to defend the legitimacy of our system, even while reforming it.

Judging by the last few debates, none of the current candidates remember those arguments or know how to rebut a populist to their left.

I’ll cast my lot with democratic liberalism. The system needs reform. But I just can’t pull the lever for either of the two populisms threatening to tear it down.

This seems to me to be more than a bit overheated. After all, the President is checked by Congress and the courts, and the Supreme Court would never go along with Sanders’s wishes. Nor would the Congress, unless it becomes filled with people like AOC and has a Democratic majority in both houses. (I admit that I am scared of the young authoritarian liberals in Congress, like the “squad”, who seem to be to be nearly as authoritarian as Brooks fears.)

But is Brooks journalistically hyperventilating in his Sanders-phobia?

173 Comments

  1. Nicholas K.
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Brooks is a joke. He would prefer a malignant sociopath over Bernie? I do not intend to vote for Bernie in Primary. But, we have a Congress and Constitution. A President Bernie cannot transform our nation into a socialist dictatorship by himself. I certainly don’t see many in Congress willing to help. Now, could we get universal health care like every other industrial nation? Yes, please. Is that socialism? Yes, it is! If we end up as socialist as Denmark, what is wrong with that?

    • Nicholas K.
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      I will enthusiastically vote for Bernie if he is the nominee.

      • Historian
        Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        As will I and will also enthusiastically vote for another nominee should that be the case. My vote will be enthusiastic because I will be displaying an act of negative partisanship. That is, while I do not support everything that Bernie proposes, four more years of Trump will threaten the Republic, perhaps beyond repair.

        I find absurd the argument that Trump will be checked by Congress and the Supreme Court. There is little evidence of this considering the Senate is Republican under Mitch McConnell and the Supreme Court is decidedly right wing.

        I found Brooks’ column repulsive. Any small respect I had for him has now disappeared. To think that Bernie represents an equivalent threat to the Republic and to the world (think climate change) borders on the delusional. Yes, Bernie is rigid in his thinking, but he knows how Congress works unlike Trump. Most importantly, he is not a malignant narcissist as is Trump.

  2. Posted February 28, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    So why does Bernie call himself a socialist?

    Even in the UK — generally further left than the US — the Labour party stopped calling itself “socialist” decades ago (Tony Blair’s “Clause Four” reforms to make the party electable).

    “He sees Sanders installing an authoritarian socialist government, not a democratic socialist one.”

    Socialism is by necessity “authoritarian”, since it is defined as the collective control of all aspects of the economy, as opposed to a market economy. Even if it were under democratic direction, that would still be “tyranny of the majority”.

    If Bernie is actually a “social democrat” rather than a “democratic socialist” (the term “social” is way weaker than “socialist”), then he’s doing himself no favours by self-describing as a “socialist”.

    • eedwardgrey69
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Everything that isn’t rampant, unbridled capitalism is going to be called communism by the right in the USA anyway, so he might as well embrace it instead of trying to explain modern day McCarthyists the difference.

      • Posted February 28, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        But elections are about explaining to the floating voter in the centre ground.

    • Steve Cameron
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      I agree that social democrat both sounds better and is more accurate, but Bernie’s been calling himself a democratic socialist for decades, and changing the label now could easily be construed by enemies and allies alike as him giving ground when he doesn’t need to.

      They called Obama a socialist, and a communist too (so Bernie’s not in bad company). And they’ll do the same to whoever gets nominated, even if it’s Biden or Bloomberg. At least Bernie won’t waste any energy denying it.

      • Posted February 28, 2020 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        I don’t get this argument. Sure, they’ll probably call any Democrat a socialist. Unfortunately, they would be right to some degree with Bernie. That makes all the difference in the world. I know Bernie is mostly a capitalist but if he uses the word “socialist” to refer to himself, regardless of how many qualifiers he adds to it, a case can be made that he really is one.

    • Derek Freyberg
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Bernie’s response to that, when interviewed on “60 Minutes”, was to the effect that the current administration are corporate socialists, running the government for the benefit of corporations and the rich at the expense of the people (working class/middle class), he is a “democratic socialist”, and wants to run the government for the benefit of the people.
      I agree with everyone who says that “social democrat” sounds better than “democratic socialist”, but I think you have to look past the label and look at his proposed policies to decide what he really is.

      • Posted February 28, 2020 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        If one needs to “look past the label” then surely it’s time to change the label?

        • Posted February 28, 2020 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

          +1. He’s either really a socialist or just likes the abuse.

      • Posted February 29, 2020 at 7:18 am | Permalink

        It’s a persuasive argument but the subtlety is way beyond the intellectual capacity of anybody who would rather see Trump in power than Bernie.

      • Filippo
        Posted March 2, 2020 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        If the occasional Fortune 500 corporation occasionally paying no federal income tax (when the flesh-and-blood human being cleaning the executive suite toilets always has to pay income tax) is not corporate socialism, than I don’t know what is.

        • tomh
          Posted March 2, 2020 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

          A little more than occasional. 91 Fortune 500 companies paid no federal income tax in 2018, including companies like Amazon, Chevron, Halliburton and IBM. The 379 profitable members of the Fortune 500 paid an effective federal tax rate of 11.3% last year — almost half of the 21% corporate rate established under President Trump’s 2017 tax revamp.

        • Posted March 2, 2020 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

          Yes, corporations (and other kinds of businesses) in the US often can take advantage of various “corporate welfare” and tax relief schemes in favor of particular industries or groups of workers. True capitalists shun these distortions to the market as they often hurt our economy more than they help. The same with trade protectionism and industrial policy. Whenever the government tries to pick winners and losers, it usually fails.

          Good capitalists shun such distortions of the marketplace. As one might expect, Trump loves this sort of thing as it lets him reward those that praise him and punish his enemies. Of course, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren also love these things but for different reasons. Although their motivations might be more moral, it’s still a bad idea IMHO.

          Governments putting their fingers on the economic scales to tip them in a particular direction has its uses but it should be done lightly, briefly, and carefully. Changing the rules for ALL businesses might be part of a solution to income inequality and fairer wealth distribution.

          • rickflick
            Posted March 2, 2020 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

            A decent progressive tax is probably the simplest way to reduce inequality.

            • Posted March 2, 2020 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

              I agree. After all, it worked for the years between World War II and about 1979. It may only be part of the solution, though. I would like to see a way for employees to gain more from the success of the company they work for — something connecting pay to profitability and other whole-business economic measures.

    • EB
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Market economies are dominated by corporations, and given that corporations are internally authoritarian, then we can conclude that market economies are inherently authoritarian as well. Clearly, the presence of authority can’t be the deciding factor, but rather its nature and extent.

      Socialism, even the part that goes beyond social democracy, has long had pro-liberty adherents, including well-known figures like Peter Kropotkin, Rosa Luxemburg, and for an American example, Eugene Debs, whose portrait sits in the office of Senator Sanders. Implentation-wise, the years 1936-1939 featured a pro-liberty socialist economy in large parts of Spain, which may have lasted far longer if not for the military defeat by the combined forces of fascism, liberalism, and Stalinism.

      It makes perfect sense for a leftist, including a moderate social democrat like Bernie, to have fond attitudes to these historical figures, who represent a hopeful trajectory along which society might develop. Noam Chomsky argues that this current of socialism is the true intellectual inheritor of classical liberalism, whose main thinkers would be appalled at how their reasoning was misused in favor of corporatism.

      • Posted February 28, 2020 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

        “Market economies are dominated by corporations, and given that corporations are internally authoritarian, then we can conclude that market economies are inherently authoritarian as well.”

        Huh? Corporations’ authority really governs very little. They must follow the markets, investors, and the whims of customers. Governments tell them what they can and can’t do. About the most they can do to employees is fire them, in which case they get jobs somewhere else. I realize that I’m describing the ideal and that these mechanisms don’t work as well as they could or ought, but that doesn’t make “authoritarian” a good description, IMHO.

        • EB
          Posted February 28, 2020 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

          I said corporations are *internally* authoritarian, which is plainly true (compare Jeff Bezos’ decision making with a warehouse worker. case closed). The market is horizontalist, I don’t disagree.

          • EB
            Posted February 28, 2020 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

            By horizontalist I just mean not verticalist (i.e. central planning). Not sure if that’s a standard usage upon searching the term. But yes, a corporation can’t make it so that their product is #1 in the market by fiat. But they can (and often do) tell their warehouse workers when to go to bathroom.

        • Posted February 28, 2020 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

          “The official line is that we all have rights and live in a democracy. Other unfortunates who aren’t free like we are have to live in police states. These victims obey orders or-else, no matter how arbitrary. The authorities keep them under regular surveillance. State bureaucrats control even the smaller details of everyday life. The officials who push them around are answerable only to higher-ups, public or private. Either way, dissent and disobedience are punished. Informers report regularly to the authorities. All this is supposed to be a very bad thing. And so it is, although it is nothing but a description of the modern workplace.”

          —Bob Black, “The Abolition of Work”

          • GBJames
            Posted February 29, 2020 at 9:26 am | Permalink

            That’s not a description of the business I retired from.

            • Posted February 29, 2020 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

              Would you say you are among the lucky few, or do you believe that the majority of American workers are just as fortunate?

              • GBJames
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 9:10 am | Permalink

                In all of my working years I never encountered “dissent and disobedience are punished. Informers report regularly to the authorities”. Unless, of course you broaden the concept of “disobedience” to include not bothering to show up for work and things like that. My personal worst-case experience was spending a month at a job (well paid!) where I had nothing to do. (This at a large corporation after a reorg. I quit.)

                Black’s description of the workplace as a dystopian horror show is, I suppose, true for some places of work. But generalizing it to “the modern workplace” is just silly. (It also seems to imply some pre-modern workplace of lost utopia. Maybe when we were all hunters and gatherers?)

              • Posted March 1, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

                I ran a small US corporation (25 employees at its peak) for 30 years. I have had a couple of employees that might call their experience a “dystopian horror show”. On the other hand, we never had an employee sue the company for any reason. I like to think that most of them enjoyed their time though I am sure most would also have preferred to be doing something else and were only working for the paycheck.

                In my opinion, the few “dystopian” employees had a very bad attitude towards their work. I think they would be unhappy virtually anywhere they worked. Some were unhappy with their lives in general and brought their troubles to work. Others bought into the “evil corporation” story and viewed work as a game where you do as little as possible while still drawing a paycheck and that’s how they “stick it to the man”.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

                In my experience you can work somewhere that is rotten from the top down and it’s dystopian but you can find pockets of eden within the dystopia if you have an enlightened team. Also, you can work for a great company and someone made a bad hire and your life is hell there….hopefully you can move around in the company if it’s big enough to escape it. It doesn’t take much for an individual to have a bad time and it isn’t necessarily because of the company but because of experiences that employee has.

              • Posted March 1, 2020 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

                +1

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

                Especially among knowledge workers where your talent is essential to the success of your company. You don’t exactly want to annoy someone who is getting your product to launch and beating out the competition or make someone leave who is registering patents for your company.

              • GBJames
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

                I knew you were an imperialist brute, Paul! 😉

              • Posted March 1, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

                C’est moi!

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

                Ha ha. I was going to call him a totalitarian capitalist.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

                Ha ha. I was going to call him a totalitarian capitalist.

              • merilee
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

                Not a running dog?🤓

              • rickflick
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

                This reminds me of the model in which there are two forms of power – rank, and knowledge. A ranking manager can make decisions but she depends on the knowledge and skill of her employees to accomplish her goals. So there is a kind of cooperative balance, and hopefully respect in both directions.

          • Posted February 29, 2020 at 10:18 am | Permalink

            Sure but it’s a very flawed comparison.

            • Posted February 29, 2020 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

              I’d like to hear why you think it’s flawed.

              It’s true that corporations are subject to external powers (mostly just other corporations). So are governments, authoritarian or otherwise. Cuba was embargoed for half a century. USSR faced existential threats for the entirety of its existence. None of this, of course, made any difference to the people under their rule. The fact that your boss has to kowtow to somebody else doesn’t make *you* any freer.

              You speak as though the power of firing people is nothing remarkable. According to CNBC, nearly 80% Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and 40% cannot pay $1000 in an emergency. For these people being fired can mean losing their homes and medical insurance. Yes, no one is forcing you to work at any particular $15/hr labor camp. You have a choice between a number of such camps. Is that any consolation?

              • Posted March 1, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

                One of the things that seems to get ignored in discussions of corporations and their dominance is the fact that they participate in an economic and social game where governments set the rules. As in a sports game, the players try to “win” but must follow the rules. If a corporation breaks the rules, they must be held accountable by countries’ judicial system. If corporations play by the rules but we don’t like the rules, it is government that we should take issue with, not corporations.

                Corporations largely get caught if they break the rules and pay penalties. We might argue that certain crimes go unpunished, the penalties are not high enough, or that management should pay a higher price for their crimes but those are largely not what we are talking about here, IMHO.

                The current trend is to ask them to be “better corporate citizens”. This is misguided, IMHO. Corporations are expected to compete by investors and their workers. Asking them to be nicer will result only in inconsequential PR efforts. If we want corporations’ legal behavior to change, government must change the rules they are required to follow.

                Taking pay differential between the CEO and the lowest paid workers as just one issue, changing the corporate rules might be part of a solution. I don’t know exactly what changes would work but it seems to me that’s what the discussion should focus on, not pleading with CEO’s to take less pay or begging corporate boards of directors to pay CEOs less.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

                Yeah and believe me there is a lot of legislation that corporations are bound to – SOX comes to mind.

                Corporations have also learned that treating employees badly means they can’t compete. The generations have driven a change in attitude among the workforce as well with a demand for increased flexibility and autonomy.

              • Posted March 1, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

                Yes, that’s certainly true for little companies like mine. However, recently big and/or highly visible technology companies have been discovered to abuse their employees because working at such places (Apple, Google, Amazon, etc.) is in such demand that they can get away with it, at least in the short term. This only applies to rank and file employees, of course, not the top-notch engineers and marketers who still need to be enticed with signing bonuses, stock options, and the like. Finally, “abuse” is perhaps an exaggeration and certainly in the eye of the beholder.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

                I dunno. I’ve worked at big companies and if they piss me off I go to another one. Apple and Google know that if they are mean to their employees they jump ship and take their talent to another silicon valley employer (probably their competition) and that’s never great. Employee retention is important to them. My experience has been dystopia and then the hell that GBJames describes with having nothing to do. I find another position/job if that happens or I go to the VP and say “here’s what I can do for you” and find a project that way.

              • Posted March 1, 2020 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

                Early on in my “running dog” career I also had a job where I didn’t have enough to do. The company that hired me just didn’t get the contracts that they thought they would. After three months of doing what amounted to busy work, I moved on. Ironically, I learned a lot in those three months.

              • merilee
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

                I worked at the VA in SF as a paralegal right after college while waiting to do my teachers’ credential. The pay was decent but I would finish all the work I could possibly do by 10 AM and then had to look busy the rest of the day. Deadly😖

              • rickflick
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

                Years ago I was doing contract software. The work was quite varied and interesting. At some point, contracts dried up and my employer simply payed some of us excess programmers to do nothing. Ergh! After a couple of months of falling asleep at my desk, I left.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

                Not utilizing employee skills (a Lean Waste) is very common in organizations and it costs them plenty.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

                Not utilizing employee skills (a Lean Waste) is very common in organizations and it costs them plenty.

              • rickflick
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

                As I recall there were about 25 of us getting full $salary$ for sitting around. They did some employee training, but it was kind of lame. Money down the tubes. But, big contracts were worth millions, so I guess the cost just gets passed along.

              • Posted March 1, 2020 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

                Even if keeping people around is not covered by current business needs, it may still be optimal to keep people around doing nothing in order to avoid costs such as:
                – Laying people off.
                – Damage to corporate reputation.
                – Appearance of failure to investors, customers.
                – Damage to the morale of other employees.
                – Lost knowledge and expertise.
                – Finding and hiring people once business recovers.
                – Lack of responsiveness to eventual business recovery.
                These costs can be huge compared to that of keeping a few employees idle.

              • rickflick
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

                Paul, you impress me with your consistently astute observations. I think you’ve nailed it here, that the decision makers figured their risks and benefits very much along the lines you suggest. I, however, was a nervous android and chose to terminate when conditions were no longer optimal. Let it be known that the hive no longer has access to my free will. 😎

      • GBJames
        Posted February 28, 2020 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        I largely agree with you, but I don’t think the conclusion of your first sentence logically follows from the two previous clauses.

        • EB
          Posted February 28, 2020 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

          Corporations, you agree, are internally authoritarian. Worker co-ops, as a possible alternative, are not. Market economies drastically favor the former over the latter, and so are inherently dominated by private authority (this is an empirical argument, but I think you will agree). QED.

          Of course it doesn’t follow that market economies are as bad centrally planned ones, or are that they are the same thing. But free from authority they are not. Very much the opposite.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted February 29, 2020 at 7:30 am | Permalink

            Not sure the statement that corporations are internally authoritarian holds. I guess I’d have to understand what you mean by ”authoritarian” I have a hard time with authoritarianism so I can’t work for companies that are ”command and control”

            • Posted February 29, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

              Yes, it’s hard to see how it applies. On the one hand, corporations certainly do tell people what to do. Most employees get work handed to them and would be fired if they didn’t do it. On the other hand, they can leave and get a job elsewhere. Still, perhaps most won’t be able to get a job doing what they love best. They’ll have to compromise.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted February 29, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

                Yeah that’s what I need clarification on. In one way you have to do stuff as a condition of employment but on the other hand you can have enormous autonomy in doing that work. There is even the concept of “servant leader” which I and others subscribe to and apply. So in that way I guess it depends on what is meant by “authoritarian” as just about anything can be “authoritarian” even friendships.

            • EB
              Posted February 29, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

              Amazon, Foxconn, Wal-mart. Take any of those and compare the decision-making power of a warehouse worker/stock clerk with the executive board, or high-level management. Who sets the vision for what products are made and how, with what amount of labor and compensation and what amount of hours, under what conditions, etc. Okay, point made. And it extends to just about all corporate workplaces, even if the consequences are less onerous for some workplaces and more leeway is given in day-to-day freedom (e.g. determining your own hours, choosing your own tools, etc.). The major exception in the private sector is worker co-ops. There are other exceptions, like many university research labs, which are (approximately) a utopian socialist’s dream, at least for grad students and postdocs, not to mention the professor. Granted, many don’t seem to feel that way.

              • Posted February 29, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink

                That’s ridiculous. Next you’ll be calling sports teams authoritarian. After all, if you don’t play well or refuse to play, the coach will remove you to the gulag.

                I know that many workers feel trapped in their jobs, hate their bosses, etc. but I refuse to believe that this compares at all with life in a truly authoritarian state. It’s just a comparison made for TV.

              • EB
                Posted February 29, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

                Last comment I’ll make, since I’ve already taken up much space in the comments. I interpret ‘authoritarian’ as relating to the degree of hierarchy in decision-making and the degree to which a small subset of people craft orders and a larger subset execute those orders. I am boggled if people deny that as description of corporations. If by ‘authoritarian’, you mean a category that denotes the extremal situation of whips and gulags, then clearly that’s not what I have in mind, as my other comments didn’t equate the word to that extreme, but rather to a spectrum with co-ops way on the anti-authoritarian end, through the indignities of Wal-mart and Amazon, the horrors of Foxconn, and, yes, eventually on to the extremes of brutal slavery and gulags. We can agree to disagree on the application of that adjective as a category versus a continuous description.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted February 29, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

                Well what about the engineers, software developers, software architects, system analysts, project managers, product owners, etc in Amazon, Google, Apple, Walmart? Because a role has less autonomy than another doesn’t mean the corporation is authoritarian; it means the skills required for that role are much different and autonomy isn’t possible.

      • Posted February 29, 2020 at 7:24 am | Permalink

        Market economies are dominated by corporations, and given that corporations are internally authoritarian, then we can conclude that market economies are inherently authoritarian as well

        That’s fallacious. “Every member of the football team was married, therefore the football team was married as well.”

        Corporations are internally authoritarian but externally, they are subject to the whims of the market and regulation by the government, which, in the case of most advanced societies, is democratic to some degree.

        • EB
          Posted February 29, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

          There are two ways an economy can favor authoritarianism. #1: A centralized body can dictate the allocation of raw materials, labor, etc. This is centrally planned socialism, and is ‘externally’ authoritarian, by its definition. #2: An economy without a centralized body can, nevertheless, by its operation, favor the spread and dominance of workplaces which are hierarchically structured, over workplaces which are egalitarian. I am making the claim that market economies are authoritarian in this second sense. One can imagine a third possibility, a type of economy whose operation favors egalitarian workplaces (i.e. worker co-operatives). Market economies do not favor worker co-ops over corporations, and this is true due to the profit-making aspect of markets. There is no fallacy in the argument as long as one makes the second interpretation clear. I take it that I failed in that respect.

          Authoritarianism refers to a societal arrangement which favors submission to authority. Markets meet that definition, assuming the above paragraph holds true, since they favor entities that in which workers dramatically differ in their decision making (among other differences, e.g. compensation).

          • Posted February 29, 2020 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

            No, you are still making the fallacious argument that a property of the components of a system is “transmitted” to the system itself.

            Your conclusion simply does not follow from your premise.

            Now, if the government is dominated by corporate interests, you might be correct, but this is not the case in most developed democracies. The USA is one exception, but don’t assume that what holds in the USA is a universal truth.

            • EB
              Posted February 29, 2020 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

              Fine, then I amend my original comment and I’ll say that markets themselves are not authoritarian per se, but rather that markets favor the spread and dominance of authoritarian institutions in the form of corporations. The latter is not a transmission of properties of components to the whole. The conclusion follows from an empirical account of the profitability of workplaces arranged hierarchically vs. in an egalitarian fashion (i.e. co-ops).

              The point is that a critic of authoritarianism can find much reason to despise in market economies precisely for this aspect of corporate dominance being an inevitable outcome of a market economy, and additionally their influence on politics, environment etc.

    • Posted February 28, 2020 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      I think you’re spot on, Coel. There’s a hole in the middle of Bernie’s foot and a smoking gun in his hand. But to paint Bernie as a nascent Stalin is laughable, both as a characterization of the man’s aims, and as a view of his potential political clout.

  3. EdwardM
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Overblown to be sure (nothing much will happen in a Sanders presidency because the Republicans will hold the Senate) but, IMO, he got this part right;

    “Sanders’s leadership style embodies the populist values, which are different: rage, bitter and relentless polarization, a demand for ideological purity among your friends and incessant hatred for your supposed foes.”

    • tomh
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      You mean the style that won Trump the presidency? Maybe that’s what it takes to win in America these days.

      • EdwardM
        Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        It is. Which is why I have such low hopes for our future. We are going down a very dangerous path and what’s worse we’re doing it well aware of what awaits. We only need look back not much more than a half dozen decades to see our peril. Some are still alive who remember it.

    • dabertini
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      And therein lies the problem, as PCC(e) rightly points out. It is not the Bern, but the authoritative left who support him.

      Well that and the fact that he cozies up to the vile LS. Is he delusional?

  4. Posted February 28, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    “More than a bit overheated” gets it right — especially interesting because I find Brooks, though I disagree with him often, usually quite measured and restrained in his arguments.

  5. phoffman56
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    I have some friends and relatives who think Brooks is great. But all seem to me rather shallow and narrow in what they expose themselves to. Personally I’d sworn off reading anything by him 3 years ago. I think his appearances on public Usian TV is where these others get their attraction to his ‘thought’. So I’m useless here for the discussion, didn’t and still won’t spend time reading this one.
    I just hope it is not too influential with weak-minded Willies.

  6. Ben
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    A conservative will vote for the Republican candidate over a possible Democratic candidate? Stop the presses!

  7. Mark Reaume
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    This may be overblown, however I would be a lot more comfortable if journalists and the other candidates pushed him on his historic views during the primaries before he goes up against Trump in the actual campaign. I haven’t followed this election too closely but I don’t believe it has come up yet. For such a long and protracted vetting process that this system is that is baffling to me.

  8. Posted February 28, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Silly over-reaction by Brooks.

    • Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Agreed, but his reaction is a portent of the many millions who would agree with Boooks.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        And the fear mongering. He labels Sanders an authoritarian but then uses authoritarian techniques to influence people. I haven’t heard Sanders trying to terrify people into voting for him.

  9. Malgorzata Koraszews
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    sub

  10. CR
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    First of all, does Brooks NOT see the increasing authoritarian moves by tRump as worse than anything Sanders might achieve in Brooks’ nightmares? Even a Democratic Senate would reign in Sanders, while a Rep. Senate has licked tRump’s boots.
    Second, Brooks has no credibility with this reader. I got tired of his pompous and condescending statements years ago. I remember in early ’16, back when he and E. J. Dionne had their regular discussions on NPR, that he was certain the nominees would be Jeb and Hilary. He dismissed Sanders chances as negligible, because “there aren’t enough Sociology Professors” to get him anywhere near the nomination.

  11. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I think there are a lot of emotionally charged and abstract terms being thrown around in this article of Brooks so it’s hard to separate out what is hysteria and what is rational. Populism isn’t necessarily about authoritarianism – it’s simply someone coming to power by representing the regular people. Authoritarianism is authoritarianism. Brooks also tends to juxtapose socialism with totalitarian communist governments and though he doesn’t say it he strongly suggest that anyone in favour of socialism has a totalitarian bend and that’s a bit disingenuous.

    • EdwardM
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      ” Populism isn’t necessarily about authoritarianism – it’s simply someone coming to power by representing the regular people.”

      You have put much to fine a polish on it. Populism has always -always- been a sanctuary for tyrants and it is their path to power.

      • EdwardM
        Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:15 am | Permalink

        Oops. Man, do I wish for an edit button. What I though I wrote was;

        Populism has always -always- been used as a sanctuary for tyrants and it is their path to power.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:25 am | Permalink

          Perhaps but I think if I were to argue against Bernie Saunders, I’d argue about his positions. This article seems to concentrate on abstractions and juxtapositions.

        • Roger Lambert
          Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:47 am | Permalink

          “Populism has always -always- been used as a sanctuary for tyrants and it is their path to power.”

          No, it has not. For every tyrant who has falsely portrayed himself as acting on behalf of the people, there are a hundred sincere office-holders who were telling the truth.

          • EdwardM
            Posted February 28, 2020 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

            If I may, I am not very good at writing extemporaneously. I admire Dr PCCe’s ability to write volumes concisely and clearly, seemingly on demand – a skill I sadly lack. So I often find myself trying to explain what the hell I meant. I should just shut up.

            Anyway, I see why you made your comment – I didn’t mean to suggest that populism always gives rise to tyrants Rather I meant that tyrants always (in the modern post-monarchical world, at least) use populism as their path to power. I will say that is reason enough to distrust it, IMO.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted February 28, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        American populism has always come in two distinct forms. You’re addressing only the noxious, degraded cultural one. The other, concerned with economic justice, has a long and noble tradition in these United States.

        Here, let’s let the late, great Ms. Molly Ivins ‘splain the difference in her inimitable style.

        • EdwardM
          Posted February 28, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

          I loved Ivins! She was taken from us FAR to early.

          Thanks for that.

      • Filippo
        Posted March 2, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

        The word “populism” has been thrown around a lot since before the 2016 election, especially in the NY Times. Are “populists” the {barbarian, uneducated?] “Beast” which scared the Founding Fathers? (From listening to Noam Chomsky, I’ve given to understand that James Madison stated that the purpose of government is to “protect the opulent of the minority against the majority,” whom I reasonably gather are the “populists.”)

        The preamble of the U.S. constitution starts with We the People.” Is that just a crumb thrown to the Great Unwashed? In reality should it rather read “We the (corporate) oligarchs,” or “We the elite”?

        What is the opposite of “populism” (other than non-populism) – (entitled) “elitism”?

  12. GBJames
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Sub

  13. Curtis
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    “After all, the President is checked by Congress and the courts, and the Supreme Court would never go along with Sanders’s wishes. Nor would the Congress, unless it becomes filled with people like AOC and has a Democratic majority in both houses.”

    Exactly and also correct when you replace “Sanders” with “Trump.” Our civil liberties and economy will survive regardless of the president – malign idiot or not. This is not to say Trump has not and Sander would not damage our country but that we will be okay and in four years the people will be given a chance to try again.

    • Nicholas K.
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      Do you think the Senate, as it is right now, would NOT convict a Dem President impeached on the same charges and with same evidence/testimony as we just saw with Trump? If so, I have some bridges you may be interested in.

      • Curtis
        Posted February 28, 2020 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        I am not sure what that has to with anything I said. I trust the entirety of our political system not any individual person or branch or decision in particular. It would take decades of one party rule to change this and I am confident in my fellow citizen to prevent either party from destroying our country.

        To answer your question, from the states, I know that each party will be sycophants to their own politicians. No Democractic or Republican will convict one of their own.

        • EdwardM
          Posted February 28, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

          “I am not sure what that has to with anything I said.”

          Well Curtis, I think it does. You did, after all, say this…

          “After all, the President is checked by Congress…”

          The fact that your last sentence is true is what is central to wrong with Trumpism. It is likely, for example, that had he not resigned, Nixon would have been removed from office with support from his own party. Such a thing is unthinkable now even though the crimes were worse.

          That is an example of the damage to our political system that Trupism has wrought.

          • Nicholas K.
            Posted February 28, 2020 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

            Exactly. Trump is NOT being checked by Congress. His crimes are being enabled by the Republican majority in Senate.

    • EdwardM
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      I am not sure about that, Curtis. You are correct that we have these checks, but I do not have much confidence in them. I fear the damage Trumpism* is doing is the continued erosion of our political system to the point where it can no longer really govern…and there be dragons.

      *not the man himself as he is, after all, a symptom not a cause…and as many have noted, we are in danger of the Democrats embracing Trumpism.

    • Curtis
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      In response to all of you. The basic difference we have is that I think the country is doing okay. Not well but okay. Gay marriage is still legal, we can speak freely, the economy has not collapsed, all our citizen still have civil rights and there has been no major war. IMO, the big things are okay even though Trump is slime and has caused lots of significant problems. (Please don’t list them because I agree with every complaint mentioned.)

      We are surviving as a country and will survive him, the next bad president and the next. This is no defense of Trump (or Sanders or anyone else), I just have great confidence in our system of government.

      I strongly agree with Jerry when he said “After all, the President is checked by Congress and the courts, and the Supreme Court would never go along with Sanders’s wishes. Nor would the Congress, unless it becomes filled with people like AOC and has a Democratic majority in both houses.” He was talking about Sanders but it fits Trump as well.

      • phoffman56
        Posted February 28, 2020 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        “We are surviving as a country and will survive him, the next bad president and the next.”

        And, just after that, your g.g.g.grandchildren will all die a very unpleasant death because the response to climate change was too little, too late. So will the rest of the human species, and more.

        But ‘I’m all right, Jack. Don’t expect me to look beyond the present stock market, whether I have a job, etc.’

        For most citizens of very marginal countries, that is perhaps understandable. For most citizens of western democracies, pardon me, but it’s extremely immoral. There are 180 million eligible US voters from their last presidential election who failed their obvious duty, and upon whom people of the world 100 years from now will will look and have an opinion worse than their opinion of Adolf Hitler. Maybe.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted February 28, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

          As I’ve said before, if I’m not digging out cans of beans buried in the snow from a nuclear winter, the checks on your democracy have held.

          • Posted February 28, 2020 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

            What if the Trump admin gets a second term, completely dominates the Supreme Court and the DOJ, and starts rounding up “illegals”, interpreted as they see fit, and throwing them into camps where they seem to have fatal “accidents” at a pretty high rate? Will our institutions be ok then?

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted February 28, 2020 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

              No. But it won’t affect me or the rest of the world as directly as a thermonuclear war.

            • Filippo
              Posted March 2, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

              I’ve recently read of concerns about the possibility of the SCOTUS overturning Roe v. Wade. If that happens, I wonder if there will be enough prison cells for the women who defy that prospective decision.

          • phoffman56
            Posted February 28, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

            Yes, Diana, the thermonuclear danger to everybody everywhere is also there. With it, you can remove several of my g.g.’s on our descendants in danger in the rest of the world, in danger from this giant country full of midget mentalities.

            It’s hard to remain placid when you see his popularity apparently increase immediately after the revelations of the impeachment TV spectacular.

        • Curtis
          Posted February 28, 2020 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

          “I’m all right, Jack. Don’t expect me to look beyond the present stock market, whether I have a job, etc.”
          I really dislike this kind of response because you assume the worst about me just because we disagree one issue. It does not lead to productive discourse.

          You have no idea about my situation. My last job ended because Trump cut funding for ocean research. I have advocated a high gas tax since I worked in a carbon dioxide lab in college. I always talk about “all our citizens” because we are a country. I have two children who will entering college soon and free college would speed my retirement significantly but I still think this would be a mistake.

          Here is a serious question. Do you really care about rural redneck, Trump supporters? Or do you ridicule them and their religion? (I have no idea what your views are but it is all too common among my progressive friend.)

          Trump’s election shocked and dismayed me. In order to understand his appeal I have been researching the problems of his supporters in the midwest and other places. This research had made me much less confident in my own views. I used to be a strong libertarian but now I find non-Trumpian conservatives who stress community more compelling. I am more sympathetic to the medicaid for all.

          • Posted February 28, 2020 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

            I hear this sort of story over and over again. It ends with a claim that if only we could walk in their shoes, we would understand the attraction Trump represents. They stop short of actually telling us what those attractions are. My strong suspicion is that we would lose respect for them if these “attractions” were named.

            • Curtis
              Posted February 28, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

              My goal is not to like them but to try understand why they think like they do. I am fundamentally convinced that Americans are generally decent people and deserving of my respect.

              I think the big things are the loss of community and general dignity – factories closing, towns and churches dying, and contempt from both the conservative and progressive elites. How to solve it is more difficult.

              I have two books to recommend. One is descriptive and one is prescriptive.

              “Dignity : seeking respect in back row America” by Chris Arnade. He is a former wall street banker turned photographer who explores the left behind in inner cities and small towns. Hint, visit McDonald to understand them.

              “The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America” by Oren Cass. His basic premise is that productive work is necessary for dignity and has ideas to help. You won’t like some of his ideas but they might make you think. Review from a conservative:
              https://theworthyhouse.com/2018/12/24/book-review-the-once-and-future-worker-a-vision-for-the-renewal-of-work-in-america-oren-cass/

              Review from a progressive:
              https://www.salon.com/2018/12/01/the-once-and-future-worker-is-romney-loyalist-oren-casss-labor-theory-of-value/

              • Posted February 28, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

                I am much less interested in hearing about their problems. I largely take them as a given. It is who and what they blame for them, and the solutions that they advocate, that are questioned. And the idea that Trump is the solution to anything is hard to get past.

                Bottom line is that I don’t have much respect for them. To see things their way requires a kind of moral relativism and acquiescence to stupidity that doesn’t interest me. Many readers here aren’t willing to negotiate on religion and anti-evolutionism. Similarly, we shouldn’t acquiesce to Trumpism, red-state-ism, or whatever you want to call it. They are simply bad ideas.

              • Curtis
                Posted February 28, 2020 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

                @Paul
                An us vs. them attitude does not foster productive discourse. I strongly disagree with you on most issues but, since you are polite and respectful, I enjoy your opinions.
                I am very interested in hearing about their problems and yours. I would like to help you and them.

                Taking their problems “as a given” does not seem respectful to me. If your proposals to help them are not what they want, they are not solutions for them. They are generally poorly educated people who are hurting. Instead of being treated with sympathy they are treated with contempt by many progressives and conservatives.

                We need to understand them to understand why they are mad and voted for someone like Trump. He is a crass immoral person who all Evangelicals should hate but they love him. To get past Trump (and would be his successors), we need to understand his supporters. Why are they mad? Why is their society failing with alcohol and drugs? And most importantly, what can we do to help them help themselves?

                And everything I said could and should be directed to the extremists of the left. Why are they mad and what can we do to help them?

              • Posted February 28, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

                “Taking their problems “as a given” does not seem respectful to me.”

                All I meant was that I acknowledge that they have problems like low wages, not enough jobs, depressed local economy, etc. I don’t see how that can be disrespectful.

                “We need to understand them to understand why they are mad and voted for someone like Trump.”

                I agree with that but that doesn’t mean I have to respect their opinions. If their ideas are faulty, I think we can best serve them by pointing out what’s wrong with their ideas. If they ask for more education or for funding directed towards job training, then I’m all ears. If they say the “real problem” is immigrants, then I’ll say they’re wrong. Trump panders to them by offering false diagnosis and bad solutions. If they buy into those ideas then they are part of the problem.

              • Curtis
                Posted February 28, 2020 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

                Sometimes nuance is lost online and I guess I read disrespect where none was intended. Sorry.

                Respecting vs. understanding their opinions is tricky. Let’s take an example where a factory closed and the production went to China. Their town’s problems started with immigration and I understand and respect their distaste for immigration. (When it turns to racism, it’s a different story.)

                Reading about them has changed my opinion. Many traditionally working class jobs (manicurists, construction, maids, yard work) are becoming dominated by immigrants. I am glad that the hard working immigrants get ahead but I am sad that the children of the US working class find it harder to do so. The traditionally American working class (black and white) are often shut out of certain jobs. I was pro immigration but now I am unsure.

                The thing I have learned the most is that I am wrong a lot more than I thought I was and I am very hesitant to call other people wrong these days. I used to be a strong libertarian but I know people like me led to the problems that led to Trump.

                I am looking for better economic solutions. I do not find the progressives convincing. I know businesses are short sighted and unconcerned about people. I am finding anti-Trump conservative Christians to be the best combination of being concerned about business, community and people. That is not a sentence I would have written 5 years ago.

          • phoffman56
            Posted February 28, 2020 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

            “Do you really care about rural redneck, Trump supporters?”
            I care about the human species. I believe the rednecks are in that group.

            “..you assume the worst about me..”
            I assumed nothing beyond what you have said earlier here. That indicated very little concern for the long term effects on the entire world. I did not assume your excuses are because of how you might have voted last time, whatever that was. Those are very poor excuses for whoever did help put Drumpf in power 3 years ago, and especially for whoever will vote for this very dangerous person soon. It has some similarity for the entire human population to what it was for Jewish people in Central Europe in 1933. And please do not speak of the actual mindset of Hitler versus the ‘innocent’ narcissism of Drumpf. It is the actual danger to other people which is the issue, independently of whether a matter of evil intent or simply of selfish criminal indifference on the part of the power-corrupted leader. Drumpf’s corruption seems to have been pervasive for his entire life of course.

            • Curtis
              Posted February 28, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

              “An encounter with an ambiguous yet controversial-sounding claim starts with an instinctive emotional reaction. We infer the intentions or agenda behind the claim, interpret it in the way most compatible with our own attitude, and then immediately forget the second step ever happened and confuse the intended meaning with our own interpretation. This is a complicated way of saying that if you feel a statement is part of a rival political narrative you’ll unconsciously interpret it to mean something false or unreasonable, and then think you disagree with people politically because they say false and unreasonable things.” — John Nerst.
              https://everythingstudies.com/2019/08/19/the-prince-and-the-figurehead/

              Does this fit you? I am doing my best to no longer have this kind of reaction.

              • phoffman56
                Posted February 28, 2020 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

                I have thought about nuclear weapons since approximately 1950. Please try not to impute emotional reactions to explain away what I write.
                If you truly do not think Drumpf is a serious danger to humanity, engage with that issue, explain why not; don’t create useless diversions by quoting pseudo-psychiatrists or whatever that Nerst person is.

              • Curtis
                Posted February 28, 2020 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

                I do not think Trump is a danger to society and have given my reason. You do and have given your reasons. We disagree and that is fine.

                When you imply I am selfish “I’m all right, Jack. Don’t expect me to look beyond the present stock market, whether I have a job, etc” this is attack and no longer constructive. In addition, the quote that prompted you was by Jerry not me.

                It seemed like an emotional response to me which I totally understand because this is how I instinctively respond. I am trying to have more constructive debates. The quote by a systems engineer helped me understand myself better.

                I thought it might be the same for you and so I said “Does this fit you?” I thought this was a respectful way to further debate.

                I guess it was the wrong approach with you. I will continue to look for ways to help civil debates.

              • phoffman56
                Posted February 28, 2020 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

                “I do not think Trump is a danger to society and have given my reason.”

                I have tried to reread everything from you here, and cannot find what you claim here. It would be helpful if you were to quote yourself specifically on that, especially on climate change, and also on the possibility of thermonuclear catastrophe.

                I am assuming your use of “society” above refers to the entire human species and over the next century or two, that being exactly what I have mentioned.

              • phoffman56
                Posted February 29, 2020 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

                “I do not think … and have given my reason.”
                But elsewhere it seems.

                Drumpf is very dangerous. That is far more crucial than is having love-ins with his fans.

  14. rickflick
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I think Bernie Sanders idealism may be a little over the top, but he’s been advocating policy that merely tries to put the US in line with the rest of the western world. Stalin? 20 million murders? I think not. Brooks can sometimes make interesting points, but here he’s simply acting like a frightened child who thinks there are monsters under the bed.
    If he wins, Bernie’s programs don’t stand a chance in hell of being implemented, even if the Dems take the senate. His influence will be to correct the excesses of tRump, and to improve the moral tone. He may not actually unify the country, but just moving back toward a traditional standoff would be a big win.
    Looks like Brooks can look forward to increased fame and fortune as a writer for tRump’s reelection team. Maybe an ambassadorship under tRump-2.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      To Canadians the fear of Sanders is weird to us. I posted a meme on FB that said: “If Bernie Sanders was Canadian, he’d be a former two-term prime minster enjoying retirement. Instead at 78 he’s still trying to drag the United States into the 20th century”.

      You can tell it’s an American meme by the “two-term” part – Canadians have no terms on their leaders/parties so he could have been a PM for 15 years like Pierre Trudeau. In fact, I see a lot of parallels with PET and Sanders. PET visited Russia during the Soviet days (The US was very unhappy about that and had a dossier on him for it) and he was a personal friend of Castro (forget praising him, Castro attended PET’s funeral in Canada, risking assassination). Yet, we had him as our PM for 15 years.

      • Stephen
        Posted February 28, 2020 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

        As a Canadian myself, I totally agree with your comment.

      • rickflick
        Posted February 28, 2020 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        During the 50s and 60s, after WWII, the US government feared and hated the Soviets. They indoctrinated the population at every turn. Remember Dr. Strangelove, the arms race, the Cuban missile crisis, duck and cover? It still hasn’t worn off. The paranoia lingers and poisons our politics and social policy to this day.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted February 28, 2020 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

          That was still going on throughout the Cokd War as I remember it even in the 80s.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted March 1, 2020 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

            Now you have to ask yourself, did I mean “Coke Wars” (you know, the fight between Coke Classic and the New Coke) or did I mean the Cold War?

            • rickflick
              Posted March 1, 2020 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

              I’ve always had that question about you Diana. Classic or New? Care to volunteer the reveal?

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

                I’m firmly on Mike from Stranger Things’ side, when he asks Lucas, who is drinking a can of New Coke, “How do even drink that?”

              • rickflick
                Posted March 1, 2020 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

                The reference doesn’t click for me, but I have faith in your exquisite taste.

      • Posted February 28, 2020 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

        Precisely what I’ve been thinking, Diana.

        Despite his open-mindedness wrt Cuba and Russia, Pierre didn’t devolve into an authoritarian nor a communist when he became prime minister. He was the consummate intellectual. As Canadians will remember, he also famously said that “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation:
        https://www.cbc.ca/archives/entry/omnibus-bill-theres-no-place-for-the-state-in-the-bedrooms-of-the-nation

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

          And he wasn’t afraid to show force either ”just watch me”

          • Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

            Remember that time when he was speaking at some event and there was some kind of attack (can’t remember if it was a molotov cocktail or what)? He didn’t even flinch!

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 2, 2020 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

              Or giving the finger to people on strike and telling people to “fuck off”. Hard to believe that was the 70s.

      • Filippo
        Posted March 2, 2020 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        I visited the USSR in 1978 as part of a college musical group. I wonder if the US government has a dossier on me. (Well, they knew about that in any event since they apparently did not object to my later joining the U.S. Navy.)

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted March 2, 2020 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

          I think back then it was more a fear Canada would turn commie.

  15. dd
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Would Sanders intall the economic equivalent to “SJW/Woke” philosophy?

    His economic policies of centralization (energy, health care) seem highly congruent as conduits for that philosphy.

    • Historian
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      No, he would not install the economic policy you fear. This is because Congress must pass laws to enact most of what he wants and this will not happen. The reality is that most progressive legislation will not pass because of the Republican Senate and the filibuster. Debates over the details of policy serve the interests of the pundits, but meaningless in the real world.

      Electing Sanders or any Democrat is to prevent the Trump destruction of the Republic, realize the end of the Putin-Trump administration, and through areas where executive orders are appropriate, to push the nation in a mildly progressive direction. These things would be accomplished by Sanders or any Democrat.

  16. Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    One big difference: Trump is a criminal who lies as his first choice, Sanders isn’t. The rest is details. Vote for the non-criminal, non-habitual-liar in November!

    • darrelle
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      Yep. It continues to amaze me how so many don’t get this. They seem to believe that Trump is no worse, ethically speaking, than any other politician. That’s their delusion, and it is a delusion. The consequence is that it never dawns on them to compare the metrics that you suggest while to you and I it is an extremely obvious thing to do.

      Although to be fair, I believe that many voters both have a reasonably accurate understanding of the characters of the candidates and do compare their ethics, and simply prefer Trump.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:54 am | Permalink

        Yes that “everyone is bad” attitude is the aim of many propagandists that want people to become disillusioned with the system. I’m amazed at how many people really believe all American presidents have people killed.

      • Posted February 28, 2020 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        I agree. What many of those Trump voters lack is any kind of appreciation for our institutions. They’ve been told that all politicians are corrupt, the courts are unfair, the media is lying, and so on. While this has a little truth, on balance it is completely wrong.

        Most of us grew up in the US thinking that, while we might disagree with certain politicians and might prefer some things be done differently, mostly the wheels of government would continue to work. With Trump, we now see that this might be wrong.

        • Filippo
          Posted March 2, 2020 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

          “With Trump, we now see that this might be wrong.”

          We earlier had certain intimations of that with Nixon.

    • EdwardM
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      There is one thing I just can’t get past with Trump voters. I try never to talk politics with relatives or their families but a recent conversation got to me. I had to ask them if during the run-up to the 2016 election if they saw the video of Trump mocking the disabled reporter. If so, why the hell didn’t that RIGHT THERE disqualify him from office? This one really bothers me about some Trump voters.

      There really is only one vote in November. I don’t give a damn who at this point.

      • Filippo
        Posted March 2, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

        Right, that was good Christian behavior on Trump’s part. I agree that there is only one vote. (At the same time, isn’t it reasonable to say that the reporter was trying to monopolize the questioning? A certain sense of entitlement is not beyond certain media types. It smacks of SJW’s deplatforming or otherwise shouting down a speaker with whom they disagree.)

  17. Roger Lambert
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    What Brooks excreted on the pages of the NYT cannot be called “journalism”, because journalism requires research, facts, and rationality.

    What he produced was jingoism. Propaganda. Vile character assassination.

    There is zero – absolutely zero – evidence that Bernie is an authoritarian, a Stalin in sheep’s clothing. My God, there are decades and decades of evidence to prove this.

    His article was not just overheated and hyperbolic. It was completely reprehensible.

    He, and the editor that let this garbage pass muster, should be out on their cans yesterday.

    • Stephen
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Agree 100%

  18. Stephen
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    To answer your question: Yes, Brooks is seriously hyperventilating. He’d prefer a proto fascist like Trumps to win?? If I had the choice between Elizabeth Warren and Bernis Sanders, I would hesitate but probably vote for Warren. But this NYT paper reminds me of what I read on the FAIR (FAIRNESS & ACCURACY IN REPORTING)website: https://fair.org/home/corporate-media-are-the-real-sanders-attack-machine/

  19. Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    At best, Brooks’ arguments could explain why he’d abstain from voting if Sanders is the nominee. I cannot imagine why any serious thinker, if that is what Brooks thinks he is, would vote from Trump under any circumstances.

    • tomh
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Probably because, like most Republicans, while he may dislike Trump personally, he fully approves of many of the policies he’s instituted. Deregulating industries, taxes, and especially SC appointments, Brooks is on board.

  20. Harrison
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Never-Trumpers are people who completely lost control of their own party but think they have some good ideas about what you should do with yours.

    No thanks. We don’t need the “help.”

  21. C.
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    So he would rather vote for tRump, a president who has his orange lips securely attached to the Authoritarian glans of Putin, and is desperate to be balls deep in the Dear Leader’s North Korean vertical DMZ, but little s socialist Bernie is a step too far? Three cheers for conservative “logic”!

  22. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    David Brooks can go screw himself. And when he’s done, he can turn around and go screw himself again.

    At one time I had a tolerance — hell, even a perverse affection of sorts — for Brooks and his brand of centrist conservatism. But now I’ve had it UP TO HERE with his bullshit, purblind both-sidesism.

    For nigh on a decade now, Brooks has lived in a fantasy world where his beloved Republican Party was, despite ever-mounting evidence to the contrary, underneath it all a reflection of his own moderate, reformist political philosophy — rather than the power-clinging cauldron of seething white resentment it had become (a resentment-filled mess ripe for taking over by a know-nothing, paranoid despot like Donald Trump lock, stock, and seething cauldron).

    Now, in this his latest column, he puts on a pair of Cold-War-colored glasses left over from the old House Un-American Activities Committee to spin a few old Bernie Sanders statements, wrenched of their context, into a delusional reverie of the ghosts of Communist totalitarianism past. And he proclaims that, because of this, he’d rather vote for an incumbent who poses an existential threat to our Republic by daily shitting upon the rule of law, then wiping his ass with the system of checks-and-balances enshrined in our constitution.

    Have I mentioned that David Brooks should go screw himself?

    (And please pardon all the cusses.)

  23. eric
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    He sees Sanders installing an authoritarian socialist government, not a democratic socialist one.

    Oh please. The President needs the support of both Houses to enact legislation, and unlike the GOP, the Dems aren’t going to support whatever the Dem president says. Moreover, it’s more than likely that a Dem president is going to have to contend with a GOP Senate.

    Lastly, it’s extremely common in presidential politics for candidates to swing wide in the primary and then swing to the middle in the general. Unlike Trump, Sanders is a politician through and through, having been in Washington for something like 30 years, and I fully expect he’ll follow this pattern. Whatever true beliefs he might have in his brain, he’s certainly not going to go to Florida or New Mexico and present them with a “go full liberal or vote Trump” type of choice.

  24. mfdempsey1946
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    If David Brooks votes for another four years of the Trump Crime Family and its leader,a monster of evil, he will be collaborating with this selfsame evil, regardless of how he seeks to rationalize his vote.

  25. Ken Pidcock
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Man, this is the very definition of posturing, something of which it is sad to say that David Brooks has never been able to resist.

  26. Jon Gallant
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    I believe that Uncle Bernie is not a “woke” authoritarian Leftist himself, but that he has little or no sense of the dangers that mentality presents. He strikes me as the kind of sentimental Leftist who identifies with the good old “Popular Front” days of 1935 to 1939, overlooking the Communists’ efforts to subjugate other Leftists in Spain (see Orwell), and passing over the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact as a historical glitch.

    Sentimental Leftists of this sort make only wooden, pro-forma criticisms of the USSR, never say boo about dictatorship in Cuba or Zimbabwe or Nicaragua or Venezuela, and always direct their most passionate denunciations against capitalism, NATO, the US, Israel, etc. etc. Oriented this way, they are perfectly happy to collaborate with Communists and other Left authoritarians, and more recently with Islamists. The type is familiar enough in the UK (e.g., George Galloway, Uncle Jeremy, the Stop the War Coalition) and here it is in the US.

    The problem is not that a President Sanders will set up an American version of the KGB, but that some of his associates might want to. In the UK, the dangers posed by Uncle Jeremy did not stem from him personally, but from characters like Seumas Milne and Andrew Murray around him. It is not clear whether something like this applies to Uncle Bernie. Linda Sarsour is in his campaign as a fashion accessory, not a close advisor and strategist like Milne and Murry in the UK.

    On the other side, there is perhaps less to fear from Uncle Bernie’s naivité than from the clinical narcissism and fraud displayed incessantly by the present incumbent.

  27. Curtis
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I like people who can criticize their own side – e.g. Jerry and Brooks. I never agree with anybody on everything (even myself) but I appreciate people who think independently.

    I probably disagree politically more often than not with both Brooks and Jerry but I can count on them to make me think. I cannot ask for anything more.

    • GBJames
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      I don’t remember the last time Brooks made me think about anything. He just provokes me to roll my eyes.

  28. Posted February 28, 2020 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Brooks is speculating that Sanders would install an authoritarian regime. While doing so he is ignoring the FACT that Trump is actively moving the country towards authoritarianism.

    Typical pundit. Muddled thinking through and through.

    • just josh
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      This a thousand times. Brooks is an embarrassment. All the evidence is that Bernie, even if he is too idealistic for one’s taste, is a deeply moral man, whose vision is for an enlarged safety net and better health care, as well as forward-thinking environmental policies and probably a dovish foreign policy. You can argue details on all that, but to write that he is more of a threat than the current sociopath who is actively ignoring the rule of law, packing the government with flacks whose only qualification is loyalty, and abusing his power against political opponents, is delusional.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted February 28, 2020 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        +1

  29. merilee
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  30. Oran Bouville
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    It seems Bernie derangement syndrome is already spreading faster than the coronavirus, especially among the terrible pundit demographic. Andrew Sullivan must be next.

  31. EB
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Christ almighty, Brooks is at a Fox News level of paranoia and obfuscation. Bernie has never advocated for a central authority to govern allocation of the labor, intermediate goods, raw materials, and final consumer goods of the economy — i.e. what the Soviet Union tried to do. He hasn’t even suggested that the government do so for ‘the commanding heights of industry’, as was Lenin’s original goal. The reason is clear, it is precisely because of the highly authoritarian nature of such a program that pro-central planning leftists are nearly absent the world over. All of the energy on the US Left (the part that takes class conflict seriously, not ‘Democrats’) is to establish a social democratic nature to contemporary capitalism, basically taking it back to the days of the postwar social contract. There is also a yearning to go beyond, via things like worker co-ops and community owned banks (see the work of Richard Wolff and Gar Alperovitz), but even those are small currents compared to the FDR-style politics of the left-most edge of the political scene.

  32. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    I’ve heard David Brooks mentioned as a N-TINO(Never Trumper In Name Only). It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that conservative holdouts like Brooks will end up finding some reason to vote with their tribe in 2020. Even though they see Trump as crass and crude and lots of things that they pretend are antithetical to conservatism, when it comes to it and they have a choice between a functioning democracy or a stacked supreme court for their side, they’ll vote Trump. Sanders is just a handy excuse.

    And I think it’s odd that he says Sanders is just as bad as Trump, and they’re both awful in the same way, so he’s thinking of voting for…Trump?

    How does that follow? Surely you don’t vote for either of them in that case?

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      It seems to me that this is exactly like the argument that so-and-so is really religious, so therefore my religiousness gets a pass, right?

  33. Posted February 28, 2020 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    From a distance of some 9000kms even Trump doesn’t get to rule by his mouth (yes, it makes him popular) and I believe it would be the same of anyone you elect, that is clear.
    The narcissist needs his 2nd term like Voldemort needed to keep Nagini his pet serpent alive to stay alive and rule the wizard world and beyond, if you’re not familiar with the story, he couldn’t and was dust.
    This fate terrifies him if or when he gets the word[s],
    “YOUR FIRED”

    Can I suggest you get placards made up and start mocking him with it. Even if it doesn’t work it would be a lota of fun.

  34. Posted February 28, 2020 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Brooks is spewing hogwash. He merely wants to say what everyone is saying , that if Bernie is the Dem nomineee, he’s scared to death that Trump will win again.

    On the other hand, Bernie should stop being self-indulgent and start calling himself a social democrat.

  35. Chakri
    Posted February 29, 2020 at 3:19 am | Permalink

    Who Loves Dictators? Bernie or His Rivals?

    • rickflick
      Posted February 29, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Good analysis. Bernie’s Democrat antagonists are off base. The video shows Barry praising Cuba’s educational system. It ought to be commonly accepted by now.

  36. yazikus
    Posted February 29, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    I think, in all honestly, that Brooks was always going to vote for Trump. Pretending that it was up in the air is something I’ve seen other alleged never-trumpers play at. It allows for the vestige of responsible citizenry.
    Bernie is, while not my favorite candidate, a fine one. He’s not an authoritarian.

  37. Politics Unraveled
    Posted March 5, 2020 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Sanders is nothing more than the embodiment of what FDR and later LBJ initiated. The NYT have lost their minds.

    • tomh
      Posted March 5, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      Brooks is not the NYT.


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