Fear of Bernie Sanders emerges among centrists, “never Trumpers” and others

As Bernie Sanders won the Nevada caucuses, many voices emerged that were increasingly worried he would wing the nomination.

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The reasons for the fear run a spectrum of beliefs, from fear of his policies to belief that he will enable a second Trump presidency.

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The article argues: “We convinced everyone college was 100% necessary, and then we made college unaffordable. Since the end of World War II, the chorus of educators, politicians, and journalists making it sound like college was essential for career success only became louder and drowned out any counterargument. At the same time, college tuition costs have exploded thanks greatly to government programs that produced unintended, but predictable consequences. It mostly started in 1978 when more loans and subsidies became available to a greatly expanded number of students. The cost of college tuition has risen by six times more than the rate of inflation since the 1970s.”

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Many “never Trumpers” want the Democratic party to choose a centrist. They were unhappy when the Republicans didn’t choose their candidate in 2016 and are worried that the Democrats, who many have come to identify with, will also go the way of more hard-left radicalism, than pragmatism.

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Bill Kristol hopes that Democrats will not hand over the party to “demagogue.”

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Max Boot, by contrast, says that Bernie Sanders is “a risk that we can’t run at this moment.” He has embraced the Democrats in recent years.

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Chris Matthews, who was born in the 1940s, is very concerned that the US is being “invaded” comparing it to France in the 1940s.

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Sam Donaldson is also very concerned. Only Bloomberg can unite America. Clint Eastwood seems to feel the same way.

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David Frum is less critical. But he has retweeted articles that appeared to slam Bernie for considering a challenge to Obama. Also he has retweeted a piece that expresses concern that Bloomberg will lead to a Sanders nomination.

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Tom Nichols can’t understand how an ostensibly peaceful and wealthy America would choose Sanders.

Some issues that may contribute to the rise of Sanders, are the same ones that led to Trump.

They include:

  • Rising wealth inequality
  • Rising tuition costs up to $50,000 a year soon
  • Rising health care costs that can be up to $1,200 a month for a family
  • Wage stagnation
  • Decreased social mobility
  • Increase of oligarchic tendencies and nepotism in many institutions
  • People feeling they have been left behind as “fly over country” or “deplorables” or their complaints ignored.


Many of the commentators who can’t understand Bernie come from a different generation. Born in the 1940s to 1960s many of them had cheaper tuition and their experience was framed by the Cold War era and the neo-liberalism of the 1990s. They don’t see the failures that the 1990s optimism led to. They tend to have already acheived rather than feeling left behind. During the rise of Trump the argument was that his voters felt left behind by globalization and diversity or multi-culturalism. But the Bernie voters are the heart, in some ways, of globalization and multi-culturalism. Yet they too feel something is wrong. They know the status quo isn’t working.

The “never Trump” centrist phenomenon was partly one of people who cared more about America’s place in the world (think “New American Century” and “Council on Foreign Affairs”) and less about the place of Americans in America. That phenomenon was one that hoped for a Marco Rubio and accepted Clinton when Trump became the nominee. But the Democratic party is also going through an internal revolution, like the GOP. It too is going more nativist, more skeptical of free markets and more insular in isolationist and “America first” tendencies. It doesn’t use the same language, and it cares about climate change, but it believes an America that is more about dealing with domestic issues is important, after two decades of the “war on terror.”


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