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Sen. Bernie SandersEditor’s Note: The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of The Imaginative Conservative, its publisher, or its editor.

Those of us who are morbidly pessimistic about the current state of American and world politics can find some cause for cheer in Senator Bernie Sanders’ primary results—and we need not be liberal Democrats to do so. Contrary to what some may think, Catholic conservatives can and should celebrate Senator Sanders’ candidacy and welcome the prospect of his eventual nomination. They should do so not out of some clever partisan calculation that hopes for a Republican victory should the Senator gain the Democratic nomination, but rather out of genuine hope for a Sanders Presidency. As poor a reflection on our politics as it may be, few of the remaining candidates come as close to embodying Catholic conservative hopes for America and the world as Bernie Sanders.

First, contrary to the stereotype that Catholic conservatives are preoccupied with abortion and sex, we are actually far more preoccupied with war, peace and justice. This is not merely because Pope Francis has taken pains to emphasize the latter while obscuring the former. Catholic conservative thought has long toiled for peace on Earth and for bringing about a cessation of war. Serious Catholic conservatives cannot and do not fail to see that the greatest political challenge of the present age is how to extinguish an ever-widening world war which has consumed hundreds of thousands of lives and produced millions of refugees as well as impoverished countless populations from Ukraine, to Syria, to Iraq. Working to bring an end to violence on such a scale is surely the first and foremost duty of the next President of the United States. Unlike so many candidates who continue to strive for American hegemony, Senator Sanders recognizes the challenges and opportunities of a multi-polar world and seeks American engagement for peace rather than marginal and elusive American dominance in endless war.

It is precisely because Senator Sanders is a life-long socialist that Catholic conservatives can be sure that a Sanders Presidency would use all of America’s resources on the international stage to end war, not start it, to mend divisions amongst nations, peoples and religions, not aggravate them. Socialists have a deep and rich tradition of anti-imperialism. Conservatives who care about constitutional republicanism in the United States should stand with the Senator because Bernie Sanders stands against the further transformation of America from a Republic into an Empire. No single greater threat exists to American constitutionalism than the continuation of a policy of global war in pursuit of global empire. As the son of a Polish immigrant whose grandparents were murdered in Nazi German concentration camps, and as someone who spent considerable time in the Middle East, Senator Sanders has a sense for human affairs that crosses national boundaries. Catholic conservatives should put their stock in this humane sense as opposed to the gun-slinger rhetoric prevalent in the GOP, which suggests that international affairs can be solved by further recourse to American military power.

american militaryIn fact, Catholic conservatives should be alarmed that amongst too many contenders for the GOP nomination, we find men who have made clear their penchant for extending America’s over-extended military presence in the world. While Catholics recognize the concept of just war, they should also keep in mind that Pope John Paul II made clear that the American invasion of Iraq was unjust, Pope Benedict XVI took his name from a predecessor who worked tirelessly to end the first World War, and Pope Francis has explicitly called on Catholics around the world to work for peace. Conservatives recognize that war is at times necessary for the national defense, but every single, serious American conservative thinker from the movement’s inception under Russell Kirk to the present has been an outspoken critic of American foreign military adventurism. Surveying the credentials of many Republican candidates, it is rather doubtful that these gentlemen would have the wherewithal to do the difficult work necessary to resolve the conflicts festering the world over, sapping the vibrancy out of the global economy, and bankrupting the American taxpayer. Only a President Sanders, precisely because he is an intellectual socialist and because socialism is at its core anti-imperialist, might give hope to Catholic conservatives that the United States would work for world peace.

Naturally, there are several important areas where Catholic conservatives disagree with Senator Sanders. And yet it is naive to believe that the next President will or can do anything to alter the Supreme Court decisions that most frustrate Christian sensibilities: Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges. Yet a President Sanders would likely not forbid those of us for whom life is sacred from pleading with our fellows to choose life. In addition, a President Sanders will likewise be uninterested in stopping Catholic conservatives from loving their husbands and wives and remaining committed to their sacramental marriage vows. Those of us who have reservations about the legalization of homosexual civil matrimony in the United States should consider that the crisis of the family we so bemoan was caused not by homosexual unions, but by heterosexual failure to live up to marriage vows. The current divorce rate is our work. Catholic conservatives unhappy with the radical redefinition of marriage by the culture at large should put their own house in order and tend to making sure that the distinctive nature of the marriage sacrament is made evident not through the mockery of minorities, but by the simple daily act of remaining true to our husbands and wives. The present cultural malaise is a symptom of a culture deadened to moral sentiment. Senator Sanders, while not sharing important Catholic moral sentiments, at least speaks the language of moral sentiment and believes politics has a moral component.

feddcWith regard to economic issues, Senator Sanders has demonstrated a willingness to work across the aisle with conservatives concerned about the increasing centralization of economic power in the hands of a privileged oligarchy whose denizens fluctuate seamlessly between government and corporate life. The Senator supported legislation calling for the audit of the Federal Reserve, a legally privileged private banking monopoly that has been manipulating the money supply for decades. He stands with principled conservatives in opposing government handouts for those amongst us who refuse honest work: i.e., corporate bosses.

Senator Sanders recognizes the fundamental immorality of what has sadly become routine in the GOP: cutting government programs theoretically intended to help the public good in favor of government programs theoretically meant to help private interests. The Senator is opposed to government policy that calls for the free market to sort out economic crises when Main street is threatened while employing all possible mechanisms of fiscal spending in order to bail out Wall Street. If foreclosure for the family home and welfare for Wall Street is the Republican definition of free-market economics, Catholic conservatives should turn their backs on the GOP and embrace Senator Sanders, who understands that we should have the economy serve human needs, rather than have humans serve economic utility. For constitutionalists and lovers of liberty, a Sanders presidency would challenge the principles of limited government; however, it would also present an honest challenge and allow an honest congressional debate, and is preferable to more instances of Republicans branding legislation that actually increases the size and scope of government as somehow being anti-government.

Senator Bernie Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders

There is little doubt Catholic conservatives might imagine better candidates for President than Senator Bernie Sanders, but politics is the art of the possible. In an America in which we are faced with the possibility of a Republican presidency that will commit the nation to more war, more corporate welfare, more international tensions, and more bombastic and unrealistic rhetoric, unorthodox choices are called for. Catholics of all people should be more than comfortable supporting Senator Sanders despite certain objections; after all, the rich, two-thousand-year history of the Church is replete with less than perfect Popes and lapses in judgement and action, none of which detract from the majesty of the Church in the eyes of the faithful who are taught to suffer grievances patiently and look to the good of Providence.

Human politics are far more imperfect than the imperfections of the Church, and we should use discernment when judging candidates. Under the present circumstances, if a man like Bernie Sanders actually has a chance at the Democratic nomination, Catholic conservative voters who take their traditions seriously might well consider supporting this independent socialist who has certainly taken a liking to our Pope and who seems to be our best hope for a humane, thoughtful, and moral American Presidency. At the very least, Catholic conservatives ought to hope for a Sanders candidacy making it to the general election, so that Americans can truly have a principled choice between candidates who are independent thinkers.

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37 replies to this post
  1. An argument should be founded upon facts. I’ll observe one issue, and leave the others to others:

    “Socialists have a deep and rich tradition of anti-imperialism.”

    Two words: Soviet. Union. Merely the most odious of the available exhibits for the fact that a socialist paradise must absorb all that it can and ringwall itself against all else to minimize escape opportunities for its unfortunate subjects.

    No socialist entity ever had an immigration problem.

  2. Speaking as a Christian Fundamentalist and a Socialist, though I think the assessment made of Sanders’ foreign policy statements and use of the military is too generous and that his economic politics do not include strengthening the power of the worker in either the workplace or society, I was happy with this article. Personally I find Sanders to be too conservative and unwilling to change the structures that are employed by the status quo. Instead, he wants to change the decisions that come from these structures. But Sanders is by far the most Christian-values leading candidate who has emerged from the 2 major parties this Presidential campaign season.

  3. Peter, give when the basket is passed on Sundays, give every day if you wish, but remember the grace is in the voluntary action of the giver, not a new muscle bound IRS supported and motivated by the curse of History, the power monger, if you will, the statist.
    Virtue resides in the person, it withers in the clutches of the State.

    • You are talking about charity, but Peter is talking about justice. Justice is the prerogative of the state, not the individual. Justice demands the riches of creation be used for the good of all men, and when an unjust society fails to distribute wealth justly it is the duty of the state to correct that. Charity is when a poor man shares his bread with a rich man. Justice is when the poor man’s share of bread is taken from the rich man and returned to the poor man.

      • Zeb, sorry I missed you, I will only say that justice is much more than the “goodness” of the State, whose domain is power, a questionable basis for the Good. First, goodness resides in the individual, not say HUD, or the Dept. of Agriculture, and certainly not the Dept of Justice, have you noticed that last one of late? Sadly you place your moral argument in the demands of power where only force resides, that and early retirement and pensions for the civil servants. Your argument takes both charity and justice from the people at large and ignores them and places it in bureaucracy, a location where sloth and waste reside while the moral question shrivels.
        But it is a lot easier to exercise one’s egoistic muscle when the State does the work, inefficiently, and I may add accrues the power.

        • Thanks John, I’m interested in your ideas about justice and the State’s role in regards to it. Would you not agree that the second duty of the State, after protection of the lives of its residents, is the protection of their rightful property? For both moral and practical reasons we don’t want people settling property disputes personally, heading over their neighbor’s with a shotgun to discuss the placement of a fencepost or swarm the factory owner with pitchforks to talk about wages. The State though has a right and obligation to settle such disputes justly, and it has a right to use force if necessary. If the Catholic faith is correct in the understanding that a portion of human and natural wealth is due to every man, then it seems only the State can be expected and required to correct situations where a man doesn’t get his due. Of course I acknowledge the dangers of abuse, but danger does not absolve duty.

          • Zeb, The Constitution and Bill of Rights inform us of the rights afforded the citizenry, as well as the Supreme Court, the question you raise is in essence what is “his due”, granted these documents it becomes rather difficult to itemize the “due” not enumerated. If in a welfare state benefits, I’m not sure what else is recognized, does not one’s due vary from person to person and if injustice is done are there not courts? And personal responsibility?

          • John when a government fails to meet its obligations as made clear by reason and revelation, to which Church teaching is the best guide, then it is our duty to change the government. What is due to each man is, at a minimum, the means to live a healthy life and a share of the productive resources needed to provide for a family. If that is denied him in the course of things then it is because some other man is receiving the poor man’s rightful income and holds his productive resources, and the government should right that situation.

  4. Michael E. Schmidt conflates the social democratic politics represented by Bernie Sanders with the totalitarian nightmare of Stalinism, Sanders is influenced by Scandinavia not the USSR.(although, Sanders was a supporter of the authoritarian Sandinista regime in the 80’s). Many people would love to emigrate to “socialist entities” such as Sweden or Denmark. Socialists have played a strong and ,at least partially, positive role in the history of our nation. We need only look at the aforementioned Debs, Helen Keller, A. Phillip Randolph, and ,yes, Dr. Martin Luther KIng.
    There is much to take issue with when it comes to Sanders. But we should be careful about simply lumping the entire Left into one indistinguishable glob. Just like there is more to the Right than greed and bombs, there is more to radicalism than gulags and Potemkin villages.

  5. i’m a conservative Christian and Catholic. Sanders is a socialist, an atheist, believes in total abortion rights, and a complete statist dictated from the federal level down. If you support Bernie Sanders, then hand in your conservative credentials.

  6. For all the excellent points raised in this article, I can’t see a conservative in the tradition of Kirk, Burke, or Oakeshott supporting the Sanders candidacy. Sanders is calling for a revolution. Even if we allow for a certain level of hyperbole, this flies in the face of such notions as gradualism, incrementalism, and reform that are near and dear to the hearts of classical conservatives. A true conservative understands the limits of politics. I daresay this is a notion that is foreign to most Sanders supporters.
    Andrew Sullivan once wrote that he liked his life livid and his politics dreary. We might want to take heed of his words in this most heated of political seasons. There is much to admire about Sanders, particularly his views on peace and the poor. Yet, he seems to embody a utopian politics which would be foreign to the views of most readers of this website.

  7. Interesting read. However, I cannot remotely consider the possibility of voting for Bernie Sanders. As a steadfast Protestant and traditionalist conservative, I find a radical, demagogic socialist and atheist like Sanders, and most of his stated views and priorities largely antithetical to my own values and worldview. Sure, I detest crony corporatism/capitalism and stridently oppose mindless wars/interventions overseas. Sadly, the GOP establishment and many of my fellow conservatives are wedded to both. Sanders, to his credit, has made a coherent, convincing personal case against both evils. I laud his courage and candor on that. Yet, Sanders also clearly speaks for ever expanded government; restrictions on individual choice and freedoms that such a blatantly statist approach entails. He inspires little enthusiasm or confidence in his ability to be a competent steward of the economy. And he apparently cares nothing about social, cultural, moral issues that remain central to the concerns of conservatives like myself. Sanders is honest, brave and sincere. I do not doubt that. He says what he truly means. Too bad, I disagree with him on a majority of his ideas and policy prescriptions. But I acknowledge that Sanders, the presidential candidate, presents an authentic, plausible alternative to millions of Americans, whether Christian or not, who ought to reject the dreadful status quo of venality, mendacity and mediocrity that Hillary Clinton represents. I hope Sanders wins the Democratic nomination. And Ted Cruz the presidency. 🙂

  8. Mr. Rieth, to the question in the title, I say no, at least to the second part of the term. Conservatives believe in distributed property and I don’t consider Sanders’ “tax the rich” policy to be conducive to distributed property since it would only take wealth from a few, and transfer it to even fewer so they may continue their radical transformation of American society. Further, Sanders speaks of a “revolution” that would inflame the people and one can only wonder where exactly his revolution would end. When the people have the flames of their envy fanned, we know things go awry and get out of hand. On the issue of “social justice” then, which Sanders makes paramount in his speeches, I’ll stick with Russell Kirk who wrote, “…it is profoundly unjust to endeavor to transform society into a tableland of equality.”

    I can though understand any frustration you may have in trying to find something to drink in this dry land of candidates for this country’s highest office, and I certainly sympathize with trying to find a candidate that would quench the thirst for empire. Russell Kirk when left with no real choice but FDR or Dewey once voted for the socialist Norman Thomas purportedly just for that issue. But I don’t think a case can be made which makes Sanders or any of his political philosophy out to be a conservative on foreign policy as revolution would only begin at home, then project outward. I don’t believe people like Sanders are ever done with their crusades but are like those of which Kenneth Minogue once wrote where he personified Rationality and said that he (Rationality) doesn’t know when to retire but becomes ever more obsessed “with the thought of a world free of dragons… He needed his dragons. He could only live by fighting for causes- the people, the poor, the exploited, the colonially oppressed, the underprivileged and underdeveloped.” In today’s world of “microaggressions” I think he had it right.

    I’m still looking for who will get my vote and am in no hurry to decide since we do not vote until November despite the media frenzy with its rush to make a decision for whom we should vote. Third party though most likely.

  9. I like the shock factor of this article. It will get American Conservatives to understand the time for party politics is over. The time for converting people intellectually and culturally has started. If any political cause that is not what the majority of people partake in wants to gain political grounds it must happen organically. All political change is intellectually and culturally organic.

    • Excellent, Mr. Nobile.

      I keep resorting to the sentiment expressed by John Adams–it seems more and more pertinent every week: ““Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the governance of any other.”

  10. I ask this question with fear and trembling, but is it possible ,just possible, that Hillary Clinton is the most truly conservative candidate in this race? She appears to be only one willing to even broach the idea that political actions have their limits. At a time when “going rogue left and right” (Sarah Palin’s memorable phrase) seems to be a political winner, the former secretary of state has steadfastly positioned herself as a champion of gradualism and reform.
    This election cycle offers slim pickings for the classical conservative. I ,for one, can’t picture voting for the socialism of Sanders, populism of Trump, neoconservatism of Rubio, or Tea Party Radicalism of Cruz. Could Hillary be the one? I never though I would as this question, and I would be interested to know what others think.

  11. @Adam Minsky
    I wouldn’t at all consider Hillary Clinton to be a properly understood ‘conservative’ candidate. You can, of course, argue she is clearly comfortable with and hence in favor of conserving the economic status quo of crony capitalism, corporate welfarism, free trade, open borders etc.. That certainly sits well with the prevailing neo-liberal economic consensus forged by both major parties. Hillary has for years now revealed her burgeoning ‘neo-conservative’ zeal for interventions abroad, regime change, nation-building and the rest of that wretched foreign policy agenda beloved of many in the GOP. Also, she has calculatedly lurched leftward with her public avowals of support for same-sex marriage, for one.

    The cautious & ‘gradualist’ approach that you ascribe to Hillary is less classic ‘conservatism’ than simply her reactionary stance of retaining plenty of elements featuring in the Obama years. Hillary’s posturings and platitudes should not fool any conservative. She does not fool me.

  12. I respect your comments. I guess my questions is what is one who believes in gradualism, reform, continuity, stability, and civility (the traits of genuine classical conservatism) to do in this current political climate. Should we simply acknowledge that we have no dog in this fight? Unlike you, the populism of Cruz repels me. If he were to win the presidency, conservatism in this country would be redefined for decades. And not in a way that would warm the cockles of Russell Kirk’s heart.
    I’m sure you will disagree, but I believe that same sex marriage can be defended from a conservative perspective (see Andrew Sullivan, Bruce Bawer, and Jonathan Rauch). I understand that Cruz has stated that this issue would not be a priority for his administration.

    • Thank you, Adam, for your response. It’s always good to trade thoughts on such topics.

      I will say that I’m a traditionalist conservative who shares your Burkean affinity for the virtues of custom, continuity and incremental, prudent reform…not ‘revolutions’ waged by radicals, populists & demagogues.

      That said, our country is in such desperately dire (and ongoing) disarray, even cautious conservatives can be forgiven for believing–not without reason–that a certain radical revamp is in order. Neither the channeling of resentful ‘middle/working class’ rage by Trump, nor the hard left class warfare waged by Sanders appeals to me. Both are populist demagoguery destined to advance chaos & end in collective disgruntlement & despair. I do not, for a moment, lament the exits of the GOP also-rans, nor the failures of a glib Bush-era holdout & neo-con war hawk like Marco Rubio. I have some issues with Cruz, too. Not least his inexplicable pledge to a massive expansion of the military; his constant pandering to Israel; fatuous promise to ‘rip to shreds’ the Iran nuclear deal etc…To be fair, he openly admits that abolishing the IRS or DoE (both populist measures, no doubt), for instance, are far from simple tasks. Nevertheless, he’s the only one I somewhat trust to keep his word about restoring fidelity to the Constitution; defending religious liberty, the family, gun rights and not compromising on core conservative policy priorities going forward; refraining from reckless interventions abroad; reforming tax, spending priorities and so forth. I don’t expect Cruz to make fighting SSM a priority. He has already made his position on the issue persuasively plain. I can live with that.

      Lastly, you alluded to a Cruz presidency signaling a ‘redefining of conservatism’ in this country ‘for decades’. I think you exaggerate. At any rate, American political conservatism has not, for decades past, been much to warm the hearts of the Burkean and Kirkean among us. It has consistently and too narrowly been focused on economic and political issues–at the gratuitous expense of social, cultural & moral issues. And oh, the ascendance of crony corporatists and neo-conservative megalomania have continued to disfigure and maim the conservatism many of us knew & understood it once. If voting is a duty, I will just as well vote for Ted Cruz, for whatever that is worth.

    • Conservatism in the original and true sense of the word, hasn’t existed in this country since the Loyalists to King George III left. There was something of a resurgence before and during The War of Lincolnian aggression.

  13. Thank you to everyone for your comments. If the GOP primary debates sounded like the comments thread here, I think there would be far more optimism for the conservative cause.

    For my part, I would like to clarify that as an American citizen, ever since I started to vote, I have always tried to give each candidate a fair hearing. During Presidential primaries, I always choose a candidate from each of the two parties who I think would make for the best nominee. This does not necessarily mean I would vote for them in the general elections. Thus far, I have never voted for a Democrat – except in a local election for the head of sanitation services or something along those lines.

    Everyone has their particular sensitivies regarding what issues are truly pressing and what issues are open to compromise or simply off the table. For me, given that I live outside of the US, foreign policy is “closer to home”.

    However, while I did vote for Gov. Romney in 2012 (I have a soft spot for enterpreneurs with private sector experience), the one domestic issue which had really feuled my yearning for the return of FDR liberalism was the TARP bailout of Wall Street.

    All of my life as a conservative I have supported reductions in excessive welfare, argued for personal responsibility, for the moral fortitude that the market builds in people by making them take responsibility and learn how to pick thmselves up when they fail and not run for a hand out. And I have always admired the American business class for their hard work and success.

    But then TARP came along. The biggest banks, the biggest companies, the people who made the biggedt mistakes and should have taken the fall just like the little guy who takes the fall when he looses a job, gets sick, and has to figure things out and get back on his feet…the big businesses in America didn’t do that. In record time, with no hesitation, they were bailed out with billions of dollars.

    So yes – Bernie Sanders is right: they should now pay America back. They should pay a 90% rax rate on their pesonal profits, and they have no credibility on the subject of free market economics or welfare reform. Treasury should demand that these companies give up 51% of their stock to the government and the Treasury department should select members of the board for them becaude they are de facto public companies now anyways – so let the People, through Congress – have a say in how they are run and who benefits. They forfieted the right to their property the minute they took the People’s property in the form of the bail outs.

    It is simply immoral for the “free market” to mean we the people fend for ourselves and pay taxes to support a govetnment dedicated to welfare for Wall Street.

    • Peter, I must thank you for your interesting article that clearly stimulated much thought and the ensuing conversations on this thread. I believe the question you explore regarding the rationale of Christian conservatives voting for somebody like Sanders actually equally applies–albeit somewhat differently–to us voting for a man like Donald Trump.

      On another note, I will admit to being annoyed & disappointed to hear the candidates in the last GOP debate in Detroit say they will definitely support the eventual GOP nominee. I admit I especially had Trump in mind and feel nobody–not me, not you, not Cruz, nor any Republican at large, must feel compelled to fall behind Trump (should he win the nomination) out of some misplaced tribal loyalty to the party.

      Also, I’m hardly alone in completely sharing your disdain for the shockingly swift and indefensible bail-outs of errant banks/firms. However, be careful what you wish for. Your endorsement of the Sanders prescription of draconian top tax rates on profits & related compliance schemes strike me as overly punitive and potentially counter-productive. But there’s no disputing the urgency of extensive regulatory reform to address the causes of these recent debacles.

      Finally, as much as we can rightly rail against corporate malfeasance & clamor for the punishment of ‘evil’ bankers of a rapacious Wall St., I really urge everybody to do some necessary private soul-searching, i.e. ‘we the people’ were complicit in the creation of our own misery. The heedless, wanton greed, naïveté, reckless addiction to living beyond our means among many of us only proves many were willing accomplices in the crimes of the bankers they righteously condemn. People ought to ‘fess up and take personal responsibility for their own wilful follies. Even if it is harder to do than lambasting vile bankers & bail-outs.

    • Peter, I assume you see a greater efficiency in government then I do, federal health care rollouts, the VA, the federal bureaucracy in all it’s horrors, incompetence, and waste, well to each his own. May I suggest that the problems are connected to the regulatory powers of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac whose managerial incompetence required that such loans as they made for housing were eventually, by fiat, placed with the banks, they being the regulatory agencies that required this.
      Banks and bankers aren’t angels, even less so bureaucrats.

  14. Mr. Rieth, I understand better now your choice of Sanders on the Democratic side and I cannot disagree with your reason. The bailouts of large corporations angered me and I had a personal interest in that given to General Motors which for me always raises the question as to why some receive special treatment and the small guy “takes the fall” as you say. Of course we know the “reason.”

    The problem we all have is we can find points of agreement with one candidate, but upon other points of great import to us we find much to disagree with and ultimately cannot support that candidate. There can be no perfect candidate but I do not see one in the race right now to whom I can give full and enthusiastic support and I’m tired of the holding the nose technique. Alas, I doubt the situation will improve over the next several weeks as it gets down to one standing for each of the two large parties.

  15. Don’t make it too complicated, folks. Of course the free market (no I will not use that socialist-invented word “capitalism”) is only worthy of two cheers. Of course the wolves of wall street win plenty of political games, and under either party’s banner or both. But still, you know you need to vote GOP unless the nominee is Trump. Ingeniously high-minded Christian conservatism that casts anathemas on both parties is deeply irresponsible–and such ingeniousness, even on the part of people I respect like Rod Dreher and Patrick Deneen, had some very small part in the disaster of 2012.

    But I would agree that for those Christians who somehow have so messed up their moral obligation to be intelligent about politics that they think they must vote Democratic for the rest of their lives, even with leaders as foul as the current ones, that Sanders is the more responsible, adult, and soulful choice than Clinton is, as I argue at length over at Postmodern Conservative.

  16. Zeb, I wish you good luck in changing governments, I assume you mean parties. May I remind you that at all levels of government, all levels, funds are expended for precisely the needs of the indigent, dare I say that there may even be questions of just desert, you have heard of welfare fraud, yes? The poor man/other man is, if you don’t mind my saying so, a rhetorical ploy, more so when the sheer gigantism of the welfare state hovers over us, at great expense and much waste, financial and moral, another sort of price to be paid.
    It however gives to the caring of Private society, they do exist, opportunities for charity, one of the graces and one that beckons to us all.
    Regards, and thanks,
    John

  17. I just heard a great quote from C.S. Lewis that I need to share with someone (forgive me if you’ve heard it before). I’m paraphrasing but the gist is a follows: Could we possibly start a Stagnation Party that could boast that not a single momentous event took place during its time in office?

    Anybody think their could be a future for the Imaginative Stagnationist website?

  18. Thank you again to everyone for your interest and the lively discussion. I would like to add a few points as en mass answers to several comments:

    To my mind, the policy differences between conservatives and Senator Sanders are not very important at this moment in American political history. I believe that the imperial foreign policy of the United States is the single greatest threat to constitutional republicanism in our life time, and if this Empire can be rolled back by a democratic socialist – fine. The key to rolling it back is to get the money and lobbyists out of politics and restore the citizenry, the People. Senator Sanders does not take money from lobbyists and has no PAC. This is more important to me than what his views are on health care, taxes or even abortion. He is running for President , not Dictator . As President he will have to work with a pluralistic Congress where I trust Republicans will defend the principles conservatives worry that a Sanders Presidency may violate. The President’s views on abortion do nothing to change the state of abortion laws let alone the approach of the culture towards abortion, and we have seen that the President’s views do not guarantee Supreme court justices will rule as some of us hope. Supreme court justices are independent as a branch of government and that’s that. The President’s views on foreign policy do matter and can have a tremendous effect.

    Finally, it was noted that socialism is not anti-imperialist, and reference was made to the Soviet Union. In fact, XIX century socialist thought was anti-imperialist and inspired the uprisings against the German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires in favor of national liberation. The Bolshevik revolution proclaimed the independence of several nations previously ruled by the Russian Empire and in many ways the pre-eminent struggles between socialism and reaction in Europe during the XIX-XXth century were between republicanism and empire.

    Americans, thanks to the genius of our Constitution, were by and large able to avoid bloody revolutions because the Founders built a political system designed to absorb revolutionary sentiment and express it by way of ballots, not bullets.

    The problem (one problem) with socialism was its reliance on violent revolution and perpetual violence as a mechanism for social change. Obviously the Soviet Union was at one point an Empire and like all empires, it could not sustain itself.

    When I listen to Senator Sanders, I do not hear a Bolshevik who wishes to build a socialist Empire, nor a violent revolutionary (he talks of political revolution , an important qualifier).

    If I were running for President , I would run a different campaign , with different emphasis – as would each of us, but as Citizens we have the choices we have.

    We’ll see what the Republican party comes up with in the end. Looking at the Democratic party , I think that a Sanders presidency would be better for America than a Clinton presidency . Though if he looses, he may well endorse her, but for now, if given the choice – Sanders is not only my choice for President as a Democrat , but my preference for the direction the Democratic party should go in the future .

  19. I’m not quite clear as to what Mr. Rieth thinks is being qualified by the term political revolution. I have a leftist background, and as best I can piece this together, I think the term political revolution originated with Leon Trotsky. Trotsky believed that the social relations of the USSR i.e state ownership of property was ,to use the argot progressive. However, Trotsky also felt that Stalin should be overthrown and replaced with ,well, Leon Trotsky. This was to be a political ,not social, revolution. The state would still control the economy, but Trotsky not Stalin would control the state. Nowhere did Trotsky promise that this revolution would be peaceful.

    I don’t think Sanders is a modern day Trotsky (for one thing he doesn’t write well enough). I do ,however, find the call for revolution ,political or otherwise, to be the antithesis of the best of the conservative tradition dating back to Burke. This kind of rhetoric can have consequences. Only a few years separated the New Left of the Port Huron statement from Billy Ayers and the rest of the Weathermen.

  20. My replies aren’t getting published. Why?
    Let me briefly reply to Mr Rieth’s point. I agree with you completely. Sanders, the man and the candidate, so outshines the others it makes one sick to think of the degradation our country must suffer under any other candidate. When people are beholden to the few instead of the to country as a whole, the country becomes corrupt through and through.Trump lies left and right and Republicans don’t care at all. Second, no party holds all truth, The opposing views need to be heard and honored for the truth thy do hold. Finally, Republicans made Trump. Through lies and smear campaigns against Obama Republicans have made politics the nasty thing it now is.

  21. Len sive, first, you state, “Trump lies left and right and Republicans don’t care at all.” I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and call that simply a careless off the cuff statement for it is upon close examination simply not true. Among the political class many Republicans are trying to derail Trump’s nomination, for example, Romney, although most among the electorate, including myself, find him to be hypocritical at best. Among the electorate, I know of no Republican in my neck of the woods that wants to see Trump as the nominee but rather for some other miraculously to emerge from the field. The pundit class such as a Coulter I’ve no respect for, it is after all how they make their money. To your second point I will agree that no party has a monopoly on truth, although I’ve found that when a Democrat speaks truthfully it is like a broken clock being right twice in twenty four hours, and bear in mind that I’m an independent and love picking apart members of both parties in this circus that comes to town every four years. Lastly, politics has always given birth to the uncivil, but the toxic milieu we now live in began with the New Left as long ago as the 1960s and Obama, as well Clinton, are children of this movement.

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