Will anyone pay attention to the Democrats now that Bernie is gone?

Bernie Sanders, my personal favorite candidate among the Democrats, has dropped out of the primary race. I wonder if this will actually hurt the Democrats. If there is no contest at all, who will pay attention to the anything that Biden does or says between now and Labor Day? How many people tune into a one-person boxing match?

[Why do I love Bernie? He is the only one willing to say “this is dumb” with respect to spending 17 percent of GDP on health care and not covering everyone (I proposed a universal coverage system back in 2009, it has some similarities with Germany’s). Bernie is the political example of zero-based budgeting. Congress sets the budget, so all that Bernie or any other president can do is suggest. It is not that I am fond of most of Bernie’s specific policy ideas so much as it would be nice to have someone in D.C. who pushes a zero-based budgeting idea. Ronald Reagan might have been the last president to do this (Congress ignored him).

Biden’s political philosophy on what Americans should get for the 35-40% percent of the GDP that is government is based solely on the assumption that whatever the government was doing/spending in the past was optimum (maybe not the last three years of the criminal Trump dictatorship, of course, but certainly in 2016). So Biden proposes slight tweaks to government programs from 2016, perhaps adjusting for inflation or maybe adding a mask and ventilator budget for the next respiratory disease epidemic.

Bernie, on the other hand, asks “You’re working 1 day out of 5 to pay for health care. What do you want the system to do for you?” and “Housing is a fundamental right. How much do we need to budget to put everyone in a house without a waiting list?”

Biden’s approach is comparable to the way that big dumb corporations did things in the 1960s. We spent $X on marketing last year so let’s spend $X*1.07 this year. Nobody in Dumb Co. asks “What would be the optimum and/or necessary amount to spend on marketing?” The U.S. has built the world’s second largest welfare state, as a percentage of GDP, without anyone, since the mid-1960s, asking “What do we want our welfare state to provide and to whom?”]

Readers: Was it a strategic error by the Democrats if they didn’t beg Bernie to keep campaigning, even if it isn’t fun to campaign from one of your Vermont mansions via webcam?

Separately, how are my Facebook friends reacting? A West Coaster:

His friends respond:

Which rapist do you want? Biden or Trump?

Stand up and work for the platform. The platform is more important than any one person. The ideas. FDR’s ideas!

(Which of FDR’s ideas does she like? Interning anyone who might be considered likely to wage domestic jihad or to be infected with coronavirus? See Korematsu v. United States.)

The Biden Believers don’t seem too worried. Here’s an April 9, 2020 meme that got 1,700 shares within the first 5 hours:

15 thoughts on “Will anyone pay attention to the Democrats now that Bernie is gone?

  1. > who will pay attention to the anything that Biden does
    > or says between now and Labor Day?

    In view of his campaigning skills, maybe that’s the intention.

    > Which of FDR’s ideas does she like?

    Maybe she meant this one, from his negotiation with Winston Churchill in 1940 over the destoyers-for-bases deal?

    ‘”I told Winston,” FDR said, “listen, Winston, those places are nothing but a headache … those places are inhabited by some eight million dark-skinned gentlemen and I don’t want them coming to the United States and adding to the problems we already have with our 13 million black men.”‘

    – from FDR: A Biography by Ted Morgan.

    • OMFG. “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.” And that was in Biden’s youth! (2006?) Maybe he was trying to quote Frank Drebbin? “I want a world where Frank junior and all the Frank juniors can sit under a shady tree, breathe the air, swim in the ocean, and go into a 7-11 without an interpreter.” (1991) https://youtu.be/Oo5uUaDI1YI?t=73

  2. This is a particularly incoherent post, Phil. You like Bernie/are sad to see him leave because he calls problems “dumb” or says people have “a right” to something– or is there more to it than that?

    • Spending 17 percent of GDP on health care (compare to 4.5 percent in Singapore) is not a mere “problem”. It is THE problem with the U.S., pretty much (well, aside from falling skill/competence levels and labor force participation that keep the GDP from growing robustly on a per capita basis).

      And asking how it is possible for housing to be a “right” (so taxpayers have to work extra hours every week to provide it for free to residents of the U.S. who choose not to work) and simultaneously for this “right” to be effectively denied millions of people (via infinite waiting lists) is also a central question. With a growing-via-immigration population and a mostly fixed supply of housing, it is important to answer. Maybe housing isn’t a right, in which case people who don’t work will have to move out of Manhattan and downtown San Francisco. Maybe free housing in the most desirable locations in the U.S. is a right, in which case we need to raise taxes quite a bit to fund batches of new skyscraper apartment buildings. But muddling through along the current lines is illogical!

  3. The U.S. has built the world’s second largest welfare state, as a percentage of GDP, without anyone, since the mid-1960s, asking “What do we want our welfare state to provide and to whom?”]

    The US has the largest armed forces on the planet. Yet somehow it doesn’t occur to people who appear to hate the government to pose this same question about the Department of Defense. Since rhetorical questions are a regular feature of this blog, can anyone guess why this is the case?

  4. I think we will remember fondly the days when we could joust from our keyboards. There is a dark period ahead whoever gets elected.
    If I have learned anything in a long and privileged life, it is things work great until they don’t.

  5. I went and looked up zero based budgeting after reading it.

    Its a good idea and should be used more often, but essentially for variable costs, not for fixed costs. In the context of the government, once you decide you are continuing to fund an agency (and yes the legislatures never outright abolish these agencies and they should be doing this), then this applies doing standard annual funding to keep the workers in an office, when they are allowed to work at an office and to keep the lights on and similar costs. Zero based budgeting for anything more. That would if nothing else reduce the tendency for temporary programs and measures to become permanent.

  6. Socialist politicians have always redirected spending from military, space, & merit based programs to teacher unions, welfare, & entitlement programs. Nothing new there. The rest is lying. The lion kingdom would say the rest of the world has caught up to him & he’s not liberal enough, anymore.

    He won in Calif* because Biden is a dirty old man. US is a strange arrangement where everyone lives in Calif* but 49 empty states still have delegates, so the popular vote never wins. He won the popular vote because of Calif*, but those 49 empty states still elected Biden.

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