Bernie Sanders is a communist.
Those aren’t my words (although I believe it to be true). These are the words of Democratic pundit James Carville. For those of you too young to remember, he was the mastermind of Bill Clinton’s surprise win in 1992.
After the results of last week’s Nevada caucuses, it looks more and more like the Democrats are going to nominate a communist.
Prior to last week, there seemed to be a movement toward New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. But then he showed he couldn’t debate his way out of a wet paper bag, and now the establishment of the Democratic Party is in meltdown.
Mr. Sanders took advantage of that last week with a tweet that said: “I’ve got news for the Republican establishment. I’ve got news for the Democratic establishment. They can’t stop us.”
Quite a statement for someone who was first elected to office when I was still in middle school. Heck, he’s been in Congress longer than my adult children have been alive. His tenure in office makes him part of the establishment — even if he hasn’t really got much to show for his decades in office.
I love the jab at the “Republican establishment.” He did that so he could take a job at his real target: “the Democratic establishment.” Republicans, by and large, are excited to have an avowed socialist (or as Mr. Carville says, “a communist”) on the ticket. Many are even saying that Mr. Sanders will not only lose the race for the White House but actually help Republicans regain the majority in the House.
I agree, but it will not be easy. Mr. Sanders may be radical, but he is also authentic. And that means something to voters in the Midwest, where most of the key battleground states are located.
Let me give you an example. Just before Christmas in 2016, I was shopping at Kohl’s near our home. A young man was hovering near me. I assumed he was either an employee or a fan. Turns out, he was both.
He introduced himself, said he was a big fan and asked for a photo. After we took a selfie, he told me what a wild year 2016 had been for him. He started out as a Sanders supporter. After Mr. Sanders lost the primary, he couldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, so he voted for Donald Trump.
At that moment I felt like saying, “Dude, I want to take a picture of you.” Ideologically, it made no sense. So I listened to him explain.
He liked me because I was the guy who stood up to 100,000 protesters and did what I said I would do and fought for guys like him. He said that Mr. Sanders didn’t look the part but said what he believed and was going to take on the machine. And he said Mr. Trump didn’t care about what the media thought. He was going to Washington to drain the swamp and make America great again. He didn’t have a checklist of issues. Instead, his was a gut check as to who was going to fight for him.
With this in mind, we have to make this race about more than just personality. We have to make it about ideas.
Suburban voters who revolted against many Republicans in 2018, will likely be less interested in Mr. Sanders when they realize that he wants to eliminate their private health insurance and force them and their families into a system run by the federal government. We have to tell them the facts.
Even members of his own party understand how radical Mr. Sanders and his ideas are. About the only thing Mr. Bloomberg said in his otherwise horrible first debate was this about Mr. Sanders’ agenda:
“We’re not going to throw out capitalism. We tried that. Other countries tried that. It was called communism and it just didn’t work.”
It didn’t work in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (where Mr. Sanders traveled on his honeymoon and praised upon his return to Vermont). It didn’t work in Cuba (where Mr. Sanders traveled and praised Fidel Castro and his policies even after his history of oppression). It didn’t work in Nicaragua (where Mr. Sanders traveled to praise the Sandinista government and its Soviet-backed leader Daniel Ortega who Mr. Sanders called a “very impressive guy” even after the media reported on his 4,000 political prisoners).
Mr. Sanders’ socialist agenda would redistribute wealth and have the federal government give it to people based on need. As former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin put it, “the goal of socialism is communism.”
This didn’t work in the communist regimes Mr. Sanders visited in the past, and it’s not going to work now. This is why Bernie Sanders must not be president of the United States.
• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him @ScottWalker.
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