It’s hard not to like Bernie

By Neal Larson

just learned from a caller to my radio show this morning that there is a growing group called Republicans for Bernie Sanders. I almost choked. This Republican caller had voted in our on-air poll for Bernie to win the Presidency. I suppose it’s just another log on the fire fueling today’s Bizzaro politics: Reality TV buffoon carnival performers can be frontrunners, and socialist progressives can attract people who profess to be limited government conservatives. After their weekly meeting, Republicans for Bernie head off to a Prostitutes for Chastity party. The next day it’s a double-header at both the Whiskey Drinkers for Sobriety club meeting and then Mensans for Trump.

Well, yes, it is my first instinct to suggest that such Republicans depart from the tent, because in no way can a Republican possibly make space for an ideology so destructive to economic liberty, self-determination, basic Constitutional principles, and… math. Some things just don’t mix.

But these are not normal times, and Republicans are doing some weird crap these days.

I admit there’s a certain understandable fondness for just the concept of Bernie. It is impossible to not respect his honesty and consistency. Bernie is to progressivism what Ron Paul is to libertarianism. He is as uncompromised a vessel as they come. Ideology aside, Bernie Sanders is true to himself, and we are naturally drawn to those who have such consequences-be-damned integrity. He deals fairly, does what he says he’ll do, and truly has not sold his political soul to special interests. That’s always admirable.

But we can’t enjoy the luxury of putting ideology aside when picking — as TV personality Megyn Kelly pointed out — someone who wants George Washington’s job. I’d vote for carnival barker Donald Trump over Bernie, and I’d vote for a mangy dog over Donald Trump. I’d even vote for Lindsay Graham over a mangy dog. Socialism — even the nuanced “democratic socialism” championed by the likable Vermonter — is a non-starter. Government is the cause of so much ill, and making it vastly bigger and more powerful cannot possibly in a million years be the answer. And yet, it is the core of Bernie’s message. Free single-payer health care. Free college. Free, free, free, and a host of other big-government programs and regulatory entities designed to solve all the world’s ills. The only place this works is on magic paper.

We can’t ignore vast contemporary and historical evidence that large-scale socialism eventually plunges its subjects into poverty, destroys the elevating entrepreneurial spirit, and for that matter cannot possibly have a compatible relationship with our Constitution which takes an adversarial posture toward the expansive government power that Bernie’s socialist vision would require.

So why is Bernie so popular, even with some weirdo Republicans? I don’t profess to understand anyone’s psychological profile, but I’m guessing it has something to do with destabilizing an unacceptable status quo. Maybe it’s because he’s an existential threat to Hillary’s campaign, and he stands in stark contrast to much of what we can’t stand about her: dishonest, disingenuous, calculating, and compromised. The enemy of our enemy is our friend, even in politics. And some may just want to “try something new” since what we’ve been doing is not working.

At any rate, in the same way we love sinners and hate sin, I happen to like Bernie despite his defective ideology. I’ll like him even better if he slays Hillary’s presidential aspirations, then gets soundly defeated by a constitutional conservative in November.

Associated Press award-winning columnist Neal Larson of Idaho Falls is also a conservative talk show host on KID Newsradio 590am, 106.3 and 92.1fm, and also at www.kidnewsradio.com. “The Neal Larson Show” can be heard weekday mornings from 8:00 to 10:00. His email address is neal@590kid.com.