Posted on March 11, 2020

Bernie Sanders and the Wages of Pandering

Chris Roberts, American Renaissance, March 11, 2020

Bernie Sanders and Ilhan Omar

December 13, 2019, Bernie Sanders and Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar in Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. (Credit Image: © Preston Ehrler / SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire)

Bernie Sanders is learning a very important lesson: Race is almost always a zero-sum game. In 2020, the democratic socialist seemed focused on non-white voters at the expense of whites. It worked. His coalition this year is much less white than it was in 2016, but last night, he paid for it.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, “For about 25 years, demographers, activists, and pundits have tried to guess when the Hispanic giant will finally flex its electoral muscles.” Mr. Sanders appears to have bet much too early on a “brown wave” that would transform American elections. Since January, his new Hispanic supporters have won him two states he lost in 2016: California and Nevada. Meanwhile, his loss of white voters has kept him from winning five states he won in 2016: Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Michigan, and Oklahoma.

The Sanders campaign’s stances on race in 2020 are very different from those of 2016. Four years ago, Mr. Sanders was a largely unknown figure, and campaigned mostly on his own. This time, he brought in more surrogates — many of whom are off-putting to whites.

One such surrogate is Ilhan Omar, the Somali Congresswoman representing Minneapolis. As a vociferously anti-Trump Muslim, she may be appealing in her own district, which is a mix of non-white new arrivals and progressive urban whites. But her endorsement of Mr. Sanders probably did more harm than good in the overwhelmingly white and rural parts of Minnesota outside of the Twin Cities. In 2016, before anyone had ever heard of Ilhan Omar, Mr. Sanders’ won 62 percent of voters in Minnesota. In 2020, with her stumping for him, he won only 29.9 percent.

Another such surrogate is Rashida Tlaib, the Palestinian congresswoman from Michigan. Like Miss Omar, Miss Tlaib is a vociferously anti-Trump Muslim who represents a district that is demographically different from the rest of the state. It includes parts of Dearborn Heights, where one-in four residents is Arab, and parts of Detroit. In 2016, Mr. Sanders won 50 percent of the vote in Michigan. In 2020, after Miss Tlaib endorsed him, he won 37.5 percent.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Puerto Rican congresswoman from New York City, was the most prominent politician to endorse Mr. Sanders. She defeated an older white man in a primary in 2018, and regularly attacks President Donald Trump and immigration control, claiming that Hispanics should be exempt from immigration law. Compare that to Mr. Sanders’ position in 2015: “Open borders? No, that’s a Koch brothers proposal.” When challenged, Mr. Sanders went further:

That’s a right-wing proposal . . . .  It would make everybody in America poorer —you’re doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don’t think there’s any country in the world that believes in that. If you believe in a nation state or in a country called the United States or UK or Denmark or any other country, you have an obligation in my view to do everything we can to help poor people. What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.

Now, Mr. Sanders has surrounded himself with anti-American, non-white advocates of open borders and has dropped any pretense of controlling immigration for the sake of American workers. It is a dramatic transformation, and even people who don’t follow politics closely are sure to have noticed it. Whites from rural areas who aren’t as educated or wealthy as their urban counterparts are often derided as stupid, or at least ignorant. But they aren’t, and their drop in support for Mr. Sanders proves it.

Mill workers in Maine know what happened to Lewiston after Somalis arrived. Farmers in Idaho are not blind to the changes their state is going through as more and more Hispanics and Africans arrive. Blue-collar workers in Duluth, Minnesota and in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula don’t want their hometowns to become copies of Detroit or Mogadishu.

These people want good wages, good schools, and good hospitals, not diversity. They took a risk and bet on democratic socialism in 2016. It is debatable whether it would have improved their lives, but no one could say more Islam and more mass immigration is a recipe for working-class revival. Bernie Sanders tried to sell snake oil. It won him Aztlán, but cost him the heartland.