In a survey conducted for the American National Election Studies in late January, supporters of Mr. Sanders were ... less likely than Mrs. Clinton’s supporters to favor ... a higher minimum wage, increasing government spending on health care and an expansion of government services financed by higher taxes.And young voters in general, while they claim to be more progressive than oldsters, may actually be less so:
While young Democrats in the January survey were more likely than those over age 35 to call themselves liberals, their ideological self-designations seem to have been much more lightly held, varying significantly when they were reinterviewed....I don't know how reliable the survey is. If it's accurate, then a lot of the Berners are cheering for their tribe, which is defined as not being the Hillary Clinton tribe, rather than for Sanders policies.
For example, young Democrats were less likely than older Democrats to support increased government funding of health care, substantially less likely to favor a higher minimum wage and less likely to support expanding government services. Their distinctive liberalism is mostly a matter of adopting campaign labels, not policy preferences.
But I'm trying to figure out how you can cheer specific Sanders applause lines about, say, health care or education funding without supporting "an expansion of government services financed by higher taxes." Maybe you're an old-fashioned blue-collar white Democrat and you just like a candidate who seems to stick up for working people. But the Sanders base is young people. If young voters claim to be more liberal than their elders yet support less redistribution of wealth to finance social programs -- while cheering on Sanders when he talks about expanding social programs -- what's going on? Do they think Medicare for All isn't going to be a tax-funded government program? (Keep your government hands off my Medicare for All!) Do they think tax increases won't be necessary in order for students to attend college tuition-free? Or do they think all of this can be accomplished merely by taxing other people (the "millionaires and billionaires")?
Or is there some notion here that the system just has to be hacked somehow, by someone like the brainiac heroes of Silicon Valley legend, and then we'll get a lot more for a lot less money? That seems to be the idea behind Trumpism -- that Donald Trump's brain is so special that he'll figure out how to bring about utopia and tax cuts simultaneously. Is that the notion behind Bernieism?
I worry, because I'm old enough to remember a time when CEOs weren't treated as messiahs. That really started in the 1980s -- Trump was one of the early figures of worship -- and younger people can't remember a time when we weren't worshipping business potentates while complaining that government is incompetent and awful. Sure, the kids hate Goldman Sachs, and the business messiahs they look up to wear hoodies and running shoes, but it's a variation on a Reaganite theme. I wonder if they think the "millionaires and billionaires" are the bad manipulators of the system while people with billion-dollar start-ups are the beneficent system manipulators. And maybe, to them, Bernieism is like Uber, but for politics -- it's new, it undercuts something old and seemingly sclerotic, so it must be cool.
I respond to the Sanders message -- but I know that what he wants to do would require European levels of taxation. I can see that as a worthwhile trade-off, but I think think a GOP general election campaign against Sanders would point out the tax cost of what he wants to do, and a lot of people who like him now would recoil in horror. If this survey is right, they don't understand what he's proposing.
Or maybe that's not really what's going on. I just don't know.