On Tuesday, the New York Daily News endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. The editorial seemed as much a rebuff of Bernie Sanders as an endorsement for Clinton, and for good reason. The Daily News’ interview with Sanders just a few days earlier rang alarm bells for many. Sanders has long been criticized for his weak foreign policy, but the interview poked holes in what has long been considered the candidate’s strong suit: his economic policy. Sanders’ platform is a populist facade, crumbling under the weight of a reality Sanders knows too little about.
It would be forgivable if Sanders did not know a simple statistic or disputed a projected outcome of a policy. But the interview exposed glaring holes in Sanders’s essential pitch to voters. When asked to describe exactly how he would break up the “big banks,” a prominent component of Sanders’s anti-Wall Street posture, the candidate caved. Sanders revealed that he was unsure which agencies even had the proper authority to regulate the banks, and in what capacity. The candidate said he suspected that Wall Street executives could be prosecuted for the 2008 recession, but pled ignorance on what laws they violated. The nucleus of Sanders’ campaign is a fury against an unjust system and a fundamental rebalancing of the economy — Sanders cannot justify his ignorance and lack of clear policy for core platform issues by saying he hasn’t “thought about it a whole lot.”
Sanders’s dithering performance, compared to Clinton’s detail-laden responses in an interview on Monday, reveals an essential truth: Sanders is in the business of peddling fantasy, not policy. An effective policy maker accompanies goals with the means to achieve them. Sanders promises free education, universal healthcare and minimum wage increases, but shirks at explaining how he’ll muster the bipartisan support to achieve even a fragment of his proposals. His record, or lack thereof, does not help his cause: in 2015, Sanders wrote exactly zero bipartisan bills and has a poor record of gaining cosponsors. Perhaps this is why Sanders has only mustered humble legislative victories in the past. These small achievements are achievements all the same, but they hardly cast a shadow on the grandiose reforms he now peddles.
Sanders has amplified his stump speech into a rallying cry for a more equitable society. His call to break up the “big banks” and fight the influence of “Wall Street” and the “billionaire class” harkens back to the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. And like the Occupy movement, Sanders has shown to be just as aimless. Much has been said about Donald Trump’s demagoguery, but Sanders is also guilty of plucking the discordant chords of rage rather than tuning his instrument and putting it to use. He has no melody, no harmony, no coherence at all — only the unlistenable din of a man with passion but without technique.
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