Sunday, February 21, 2016

FDR, Reagan, Sanders

I've been asking myself this question, to which I don't have a good answer: why does Bernie talk Danish -- or is it Swedish? -- socialism, rather than New Deal?

Sanders is completely a New Deal kind of guy, as it would be updated for the present, which is only just pulling out of the Great Recession. 

And talking Scandinavian socialism skirts or masks the key issue of race, Scandinavia, of course, being racially homogenous, i.e. white, in a way that is being challenged, if at all, by the refugee crisis.

Beyond that, why not run on FDR, our one and only four-term president, as Republicans do, tirelessly, on Reagan, who was mentally absent from much of his administration, with a brain zeroed out by Alzheimer’s? Yes, FDR had polio, and yes, worked to disguise it, but no one has ever made the case that his secret need for crutches impaired his judgment either during the Great Depression or as commander-in-chief during World War II.

Reagan was, as noted, a zero by comparison but looms far larger in the historical narrative and not only because he was more recent.

I don't get it.

Even Obama has spoken of Reagan as a transformative president, which is historically accurate, but leaves me asking why Obama hasn't reached back a bit further, to FDR?

I don't have the answer to these questions but suggest that it's a mistake for Sanders to talk Copenhagen and not, for example, social security and the origins of a safety net he wants to expand.

It's a mistake to long for Lilyhammer (OK, that's Norway, but since I've mentioned it, I can't but recommend the eponymous Netlix series starring Steven Van Zandt, who you may remember as Silvio in "The Sopranos," and who, in this series, longs for Scandinavia and gets there by way of witness protection. No southern clime for him; only Norway will do. Does Sanders suffer from Silvio Syndrome?)

America is not going to turn into Ingmar Bergman country any time soon, so why not put things in terms of our history?

Sanders doesn't talk down to voters as much as the others. He's not as intellectually dishonest, and I'm not sure he's really capable of being.

So why not try to connect us all to an admirable and instructive moment in the not too distant past?

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