• 32°

John Hood: What if Bernie Sanders wins NC?

RALEIGH — The confusing jumble that was the 2020 Iowa caucuses proved to be a very public disaster for Hawkeye State Democrats, national party leaders, and the campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden.

It was also a disaster, although not yet as public a disaster, for another group: North Carolina Democrats such as Gov. Roy Cooper.

Cooper has amassed an impressive war chest and enjoys early polling leads against his likely GOP challenger, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. Other Democratic candidates for state and local offices have high hopes, as well, fueled primarily by the polarizing presidency of Donald Trump.

But if Bernie Sanders — headed from a strong performance in Iowa to a likely win in New Hampshire — ends up at the top of the ticket, all bets will be off. North Carolina Republicans couldn’t ask for a bigger favor.

Sanders isn’t a garden-variety Democrat. He isn’t even the kind of progressive Democrat who can now find a secure political home in urban counties such as Wake, Mecklenburg, and Guilford. Sanders is a self-professed socialist. In fact, he is a barely reconstructed apologist for communist dictators.

I use the term advisedly. In his early days as an activist and local politician, Sanders championed the Cuban revolution of Fidel Castro and the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. He honeymooned in the Soviet Union. Much later, in 2011, Sen. Sanders would even list Venezuela, then under the thumb of dictator Hugo Chavez, as one of the South American places where “the American dream is more apt to be realized, where incomes are actually more equal today than they are in the land of Horatio Alger. Who’s the banana republic now?”

Sanders did not praise Chavez personally, and he sometimes criticizes past actions by communist regimes. That’s why I call him a “barely reconstructed” apologist. While he may occasionally express regrets about real-world socialism’s broken eggs, Sanders has always been more about the omelets.

I know he intends nothing so drastic for the United States. But a man with such colossally bad judgment has no business setting foot anywhere near the White House.

For a party that promises to make the character and judgment of the current occupant of the White House the central theme of the 2020 election cycle, nominating Sanders would be one of the greatest self-inflicted wounds in American political history.

As for policy issues, the Sanders platform is full of dangerous landmines for Democrats.

There will be no need for Republicans to stretch the truth to make their case. Sanders really does want to increase federal spending by trillions of dollars — by so much that taxes would have to go up for most Americans, not just for the wealthy. He really does want to get rid of private health insurance and drastically increase energy prices.

Let me put it this way. I know Republican voters who held their noses in 2016 and voted for Donald Trump for prudential reasons, such as the balance on the U.S. Supreme Court, but who continue to disapprove of the president’s conduct as well as his spending and trade policies. I know Republican-leaning voters who picked Trump as the lesser of two obnoxious evils. I know truly independent voters who picked Trump as a disruptor in 2016 but voted Democratic in 2018 as a check and balance. Many of these voters might, under the right circumstances, be persuaded to vote against Donald Trump this fall.

Not a single one of them would vote for Bernie Sanders under any circumstances. And they’ll look askance at any North Carolina Democrat who offers even dutiful support for a Sanders presidential candidacy.

Yes, I’ve heard the countervailing theory that Bernie Sanders will attract and energize a coalition of young and infrequent voters so large that they will swamp any losses among swing voters. Color me unconvinced.

Democratic leaders in North Carolina can see what I see. They have long assumed Sanders would not be the nominee. So have I. But what if he is?

John Hood is chairman of the John Locke Foundation.

Comments

Opinion

Quotes of the week: ‘You can’t let it go’

High School

Area Sports: North boys advance to third round

College

Loss to W-S State at CIAA Tournament ends Livingstone’s season

Local

Man who fell off 75-foot bridge reunited with rescuers

Education

Fifth-graders defend U.S. Constitution for class project

Local

Alcorn, Bates, Molrine receive Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Humanitarian Awards

Education

Psychologist visits Salisbury Academy to discuss ways of coping with childhood anxiety

Columns

Ann Farabee: Get set

Letters

Letter: Don’t over regulate reflexologists

Faith

Faith Briefs Feb. 28-March 1

Local

Posters Feb. 28

Local

Local health department keeps vigilant for coronavirus, though risk remains low

Local

Post named second-best midsize daily paper, wins 28 awards

Opinion

Talkback, what online readers are saying about …

Faith

14th annual CHAOS Youth Theater this weekend

High School

HS basketball: Carson girls battle to win over Asheville

High School

Salisbury girls cruise to second-round win over Wilkes Central

Sports

Tom Lewis, Harris English ride exemptions to early Honda Classic lead

Sports

MLB appoints 1st African American umpire crew chief

Racing

Auto racing at-a-glance: Cup series in Fontana

Sports

Cowboy Up: MadBum solid in first outing with Diamondbacks

Sports

MLS embarks on 25th season by looking back, and forward

Sports

Braves’ Foltynewicz ready to put 2019 season behind him

Entertainment

It’s a sad and funny ‘Trip to Bountiful’ from St. Thomas Players