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Bernie Sanders for President: A Libertarian Perspective

Written By Geoffrey Pike

Posted May 6, 2015

bernieBernie Sanders recently announced his intention to run for the U.S. presidency. Sanders is a U.S. senator from Vermont. He calls himself an independent, but he caucuses with the Democratic Party.

Sanders is going to run for the presidency via the Democratic Party. Who can blame him, since the two major parties basically hold a monopoly over U.S. politics? It’s almost impossible to run on a third-party ticket and gain any traction, especially at a national level.

The most interesting thing about Bernie Sanders is that he is a self-described democratic socialist. Most of the socialists in Washington DC don’t call themselves socialists. They will more typically call themselves progressives. But since there are many Republicans in Washington DC who are borderline socialist, I suppose you can call yourself just about anything these days.

First, it’s important to point out that Bernie Sanders has almost no chance of winning the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency. And for any chance he has, he has even less of a chance of winning in a general election. While America has certainly embraced some aspects of welfare, most Americans would not consider themselves socialist and they don’t want anything close to a socialist economy.

At the same time, we can’t dismiss this run from Bernie Sanders. He may actually make a difference, at least in changing the discussion.

While I consider his positions to be abysmal in terms of economics, there are actually a few things to like about Bernie Sanders from a libertarian perspective.

Sanders is mostly a non-interventionist when it comes to foreign policy. In this sense, he would actually be more fiscally conservative than many Republicans. Sanders is also decent on civil liberties, such as opposing the NSA spying. He opposes many forms of corporatism too, but any praise beyond this is going too far.

Surprisingly, for someone who is supposed to be on the far left, Sanders does not seem to come out strongly against the federal war on drugs. He has stated that it is not a major issue facing the country, which is odd for someone to say who is supposed to be strongly in favor of social justice.

Of course, in terms of virtually everything else, Sanders is a complete disaster when it comes to liberty. He supports a government-run national healthcare system. He supports hiking the minimum wage. He supports equal pay for women, as if the government is going to make that happen.

However, on the strange chance that Sanders were actually elected president, he probably wouldn’t get through most of his economic agenda. So for this reason, I am not too worried about the guy.

Making Hillary Uncomfortable

Overall, I like the prospects of Bernie Sanders being in the race. There are quite a few Republican candidates that have already announced, or at least shown their intention to run. On the Democratic side, things are much thinner, with Hillary Clinton as the obvious frontrunner, at least for now.

There will likely be other Democrats that enter the race, and the nomination will probably come down to Hillary Clinton and one other candidate, exactly the way it happened between Clinton and Obama in 2008. Sanders will likely not be her main challenger, at least in terms of getting the nomination.

But Sanders could be her biggest headache. He is a sitting U.S. senator, so it would be very difficult to justify excluding him from the debates. This means he will be up on stage with Hillary Clinton in front of millions of people.

You have to realize that Hillary Clinton is pro war. The far left in her party does not like this about her. She voted for the Iraq War when Bush was president. This is one of the main reasons that Obama took the nomination from her in 2008.

Hillary Clinton is more interventionist than even some of the Republican candidates. What happens when Sanders starts talking about foreign policy? Will he go after Hillary Clinton and her record as a U.S. senator and secretary of state? I would be surprised if he didn’t.

What about topics involving civil liberties such as the Patriot Act and the NSA? Is she going to have to back peddle on these issues and say that she is against some forms of government spying? Sanders will probably push Clinton to the left a bit, just because she will not want to risk the nomination and will not want to look bad up on stage.

We will all have our laugh when Sanders is up on stage. He is going to make ridiculous comments about social justice and single-payer healthcare and all kinds of big government schemes.

The good news is that we can laugh it off because most of his schemes are not going to happen. He will be a net benefit in this race only for the simple fact that he is going to make Hillary Clinton feel really uncomfortable.

Sometimes the American people need to hear from a guy like Sanders just to realize what they don’t want. Let’s hope this is one of those times.