Critiques on Bernie Sanders and His Nordic Approaches

I believe it important to note the dark side of Bernie Sanders' political beliefs as so many young people playing the key role in today's and tomorrow's American society, especially in major cities that attract jobs, job-seekers, and dreamers, seem to have fallen for them. And these cities tend to be "liberal."

A little background about myself here: I am originally from Japan, and lived in Spain and Norway in my 20s before relocating to the United States about 10 years ago. I have lived in some major US cities, including Washington DC, NYC, and Philadelphia. I used to be all about liberalism: equality, peace, freedom, and democracy until I realized the liberal movements I was exposed to in NYC (and other cities, too) were massively aggressive, selfish, and unreasonable, which are all quite opposite of the values they espouse. If I am to identify my political view, that would be center-right, but I am also aware that my opinions can lean towards more right or left depending on the subject and its context. I am pragmatic and want what works for the parties involved in the given situation and context.

I believe, or want to believe, that Mr. Sanders only meant well and wanted what works for people in the US. Looking over his manifesto he proposed for his presidential campaign, however, I could see how it was unrealistic and would have been unattainable.

Here is a list of some of his key propositions:
  • income and wealth equality, including the minimum wage increase
  • tuition-free colleges
  • creation of middle-class job and more active unionization
  • protectionism in international trades
  • support for elder care
  • equality for minority (ethnic, racial, sexual) groups
  • immigration policy reform
  • justice system reform
  • active support for Israel and passive support for Palestine
Most of his propositions seem to fall under a big "equality and redistribution" umbrella. These propositions would have cost a large sum of taxes or higher burden on business owners. Someone needs to compensate for these "free" services or better services for the "underprivileged." South Koren's populist president Moon Jae-in introduced a minimum wage increase policy, to result in the highest unemployment rate in 17 years. This makes sense because business owners were left with no choice but keep fewer employees on the payroll unless they had much higher revenues in the previous fiscal year. From a business standpoint, younger employees with fewer years of job-related experience would be more vulnerable to termination than older, more experienced ones.

Mr. Sanders supported Israel's Operation Protective Edge and its people's rights to live in peace/security while only passively supporting the Palestinians' rights to the state when asked about the Israel-Palestine situations during his campaign. The thorny relationship which escalated into violent conflict between the two states started in the late 1940s with the resolution of the UN Partition Plan for Palestine. This resolution aimed at the establishment of a Jewish nation was supported by the US, France, and the Soviet Union, among some others, with an intent to remove the Jewish population in the respective countries while giving a disproportionate amount of rights to the Jewish population in Israel, compared to the rights given to native Palestinians. If he were really with the "underprivileged", why would he not stand by Palestinians? His position on the Israel-Palestinian issue is unclear, as Weiss (2017, May 9) revealed, which is in stark contrast to his strong and clear assertions for equality demonstrated throughout his campaign.

Another reason why I'm glad he didn't get elected POTUS. As of June 3, 2018, Assad has a plan to visit NK, which should raise a concern due to the long-standing Syria-NK military (nuclear) relationship, in which NK has been using its nuclear arms trade with Syria as a crucial means of economic activity. Now that Israel seems dismissive of the presence of Russia in Syria (the Soviet Union established North Korea and enforced its socialist state policies in the new nation in order to expand socialism farther during the Cold War), Mr. Sanders' indecisive, or "populist," position on the Israel-Palestine conflict could have become a threat to the lives of people in the US.

Tuition-free colleges... This sounds good, but who pays for the high tuitions that the matriculated students should owe to the college? The taxpayers who already have 20-25% of their pay deducted from their paycheck already, and are still trying to provide for their own families? Should they also pay more taxes for a better elder care system? And for racial equality - I believe that it is crucial that everyone enjoys the same rights regardless of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or preferences, religious beliefs, etc. but after living in multiple cities and directly experiencing the "inner city" life, I have to say that the worst blatant form of racism always came from the "racial minority" who justify their maladaptive and aggressive behaviors and blame them on the White people and/or immigrants.

I think the real blame for their misery belongs to their community and its culture. Early childhood exposure to violence, injustice, and betrayal could contribute to the formation of what social and developmental psychologists call the "internal working model" (Bowlby, 1969). These kids often grow up with parents addicted to drugs, constantly incarcerated, stressed out and negligent of them. The kids often listen to music that glorifies violence against women or use of mood-altering substances. But they turn around and put the blame externally on someone else. Racial hostility and discrimination are multidirectional, unlike popular belief that victimizes one or certain groups.

My point is: he and his supporters should get over their idolization of "social democracy" or the Nordic approaches to social welfare. The US society is so much more heterogeneous than these Nordic states with a history of complex and hostile competitions across various social groups, not only races or ethnicities.  The high-rankers in the World Happiness Report, HDI (including the Gini coefficient and GII), EIU Democracy Index, etc. indeed have the dark side: They tend to oppose competitions for egalitarian relationships. It makes sense that none of them is a big player in the world's economy (and natually, this means they do not have much political power in international settings, either). Competitions and perceived superiority or inferiority can negatively affect interpersonal or collegial relationships, too. They share, but they choose to share because of the ethnic homogeneity and a shared identity. In fact, the level of xenophobia in Nordic countries is appalling. Now the demographic composition is vastly and rapidly changing in some of them due to massive immigration and emigration from MENA, I wonder how these states can sustain themselves with the egalitarian values based on ethnic homogeneity.


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