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“Idealism” Has Nothing To Do With It

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U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Manchester, Iowa January 30, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich

In attempting to explain the enthusiasm of so many young voters for Bernie Sanders’ presidential candidacy, conventional commentary suggests that the 74-year-old Senator appeals powerfully to their “youthful idealism.” But what’s so idealistic about embracing Democrat Sanders’ promises of lavish, youth-targeted, government give-aways? Why wouldn’t young people like the idea of “free” college tuition, free medical insurance, and a big boost in the minimum wage?

Sanders says these generous programs will cost ordinary people nothing, and will be financed through big tax hikes on billionaires – very few of whom are under thirty, of course. Young voters struggling with tuition payments or student loans, and looking for well-paying work as they begin their careers, inevitably warm to pie-in-the-sky promises of free goodies from Uncle Bernie – discarding all logic to take his socialist platform seriously.

The Senator’s popularity among young people has nothing to do with unselfish idealism; it’s all about naked self-interest.

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  1. Jimbo  •  Feb 2, 2016 at 2:06 am

    And to that I'd add ignorance, especially ignorance of economics.

  2. Averien  •  Feb 2, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    While I think that it can be an "idealism" to want free college– I think it should be– I agree wholeheartedly that their urges (Bernie's widest margin of support is in college age kids) are motivated by self-interest. I look at college as a part of our infrastructure that should be strengthened and supported, and treated as a resource for our nation's future success… but at the same time, think that it needs to be toned down a LOT, and that we need a larger emphasis on trade schools. Very few people who are on our current university campuses (students and professors alike), are anything like genuine scholars, with too many tenure-riding their draft-dodging choice to stay on campus, where reality and self-sacrifice are rarely part of the equation.

    I find it ironic that the most beloved figure of the Democratic party of the last 60 years– JFK– is the one who implored that people, "Ask not what your country can do for you", and now that is ALL that the Democrats focus on.

    I can't be the only one out there who would love to see the voting age moved up to 25 (I thought the same at 18, given my association with the children of that age– and they are children), just to ensure that the vast, vast majority of voters have actually had to hold a job, and be exposed to some reality beyond a college classroom.

  3. Daniel  •  Feb 3, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    So you are questioning the turn towards the left among the young?

    Maybe you're correct but so what? Everyone is motivated by self interest these days.

    Maybe the republican party needs to clean its' own side of the street before criticizing others.

    The republican party has been infiltrated by the christian right.

    This is what Barry Goldwater had to say about the rise of the christian in the right wing:

    “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.”

    “I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in "A," "B," "C" and "D." Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of conservatism."

    For those of you whom don't know who Barry Goldwater is; Goldwater is the politician most often credited for sparking the resurgence of the American conservative political movement in the 1960s. He also had a substantial impact on the libertarian movement.

    The infiltration of the evangelical into the right wing is why I will vote democrat in the next election.

    I will never, ever cast a ballot for an evangelical, I will vote against them.

    The republican party used to have a firm intellectual base from which their policies stemmed.

    Now they are the party of the insane.

  4. Jim Bird  •  Feb 4, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    The number of Christian terrorist attacks since 911 – zero
    The number of Jewish terrorist attacks since 911 – zero
    The number Isamlic terrorist attacks since 911 – Almost 28,000
    The number of insane comments by Daniel – Too numerous to count

    • Daniel  •  Feb 9, 2016 at 10:04 am

      This is what I meant by "used to have a firm intellectual base".

      Your statistics prove nothing except that you are motivated by fear.

      You have no rebuttal.

      • Jim Bird  •  Feb 19, 2016 at 1:51 am

        I'm sorry Dan, I'll speak more slowly. Your Christmas list of freebies from the drooling 95-year old Marxist is exactly the same bag of coal Sander Claus (I like that!) has been delivering since the 1960's.

  5. Kpar  •  Feb 5, 2016 at 12:37 am

    I like to refer to Bernie as "Sanders-Claus".

  6. Franco  •  Feb 7, 2016 at 9:34 am

    I assume your comments about "The Christian Right" are focused solely on Abortion and Gay-Marriage. You don't have to be part of The Christian Right to be sickened by abortion. You aren't necessarily part of The Christian Right because you believe in LIFE, and the protection of innocence. Furthermore, nobody dictates their moral beliefs more than the left in this country. They demand that you ignore your own conscience and accept their new, moral, secular beliefs. This country has been infiltrated for sure, but it's not by Christians… Let me remind you, this country was founded on Christian morals and beliefs. And, how dare you suggest that America's problems are somehow related to or because of Christians…. quite the opposite, my misguided friend.

    • Daniel  •  Feb 9, 2016 at 10:10 am

      Number one, written word has no subtext so you are out of line assuming anything.

      Let me remind you this country MOST CERTAINLY WAS NOT founded on christian morals and beliefs unless you are referring to genocide and land thievery.

      Here is what is written on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C.'Only part of the quote below is on the wall It was inscribed out of context in 1939. Jefferson indeed wrote "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." Most people think he was referring to George III. Instead, he was responding to attacks made on him in pamphlets distributed by clergy in Philadelphia during the presidential election of 1800. These pamphlets accused Jefferson of being unfit to become President because he did not hold Christian beliefs.

      "The clergy … believe that any portion of power confided to me [as President] will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion."

      You should be careful whom you call misguided my friend.

      • Franco  •  Feb 9, 2016 at 5:40 pm

        No, I am correct… You are misguided.
        Your reference to genocide and thievery says it all.
        Your ignorance of America's founding on Judaeo-Christian values is just the icing on the cake.
        Thanks for exposing yourself.

  7. Daniel  •  Feb 23, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    If you hear something repeated over and over and over again, after awhile you might end up believing what you heard.

    So it is with the old wives’ tale of “America was founded as a Christian country.”

    We’ve heard this whopper over and over and over again. It must be true, right?


    If is were true that the USA was founded as a Christian nation, it stands to reason that the name of Christ or Jesus must be in at least ONE of our founding documents, right?


    A Christian nation that was founded without mentioning the name of Christ (the supposed object of our founding)? How can this be?

    Yes, the majority of the people in the colonies (and later, the USA) were Christians. But practically none of the country’s leaders were followers of Jesus. In spite of their public pronouncements to the contrary, their private lives and writings declared otherwise.

    Americans have been taught that the politicians of 230+ years ago were somehow different from the breed of political animals that exist today.

    Wrong again.

    Like the politicians of today, the American founders talked of “god”–but never specified which one. Like politicians of modern America, they rarely used the name of Jesus–at least not in a complimentary way

    And those same unbelieving leaders/founders steadily steered the country in the direction of their unbelief. Slowly, very slowly at first, they prodded and nudged: always slowly enough so as not to arouse the anger of the great masses of Americans who did believe.

    By the mid-1900s, the groundwork of the previous 180-200 years was laid and made it possible for the American political class to take the USA into new depths of unbelief. Especially after the federal government completely hijacked public education. After the invention of the electronic mass media, the pagan-ization of America snowballed.

    This has led to the United States of 2013: a country where there are small, surviving pockets of Biblical Christianity surrounded by unbelief, pagan beliefs, corruption in the churches and outright hostility to Christians–and it will continue to get worse. The Bible assures Christians of that outcome.

    But then, this nation was founded to ensure such an endgame.

    When something has turned out for the better in America, the media and history books have always been quick to give the credit to the unbelieving American founders and leaders. The largely Christian population received no credit.

    Why don’t those same sources assign blame to those same leaders, now that the wheels are rapidly coming off the American cart? When times were good, generations were drilled that it was because of the ingenuity of man: our men, our founding fathers.

  8. Franco  •  Feb 26, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    Once again, you are just wrong as wrong can be.
    I would explain it to you. I would give you example after example of your ignorance. But alas, it would fall on deaf ears. The U.S. was founded on Christian values and principles and any tales to the contrary is pure drivel.

  9. Daniel  •  Feb 27, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    American political discourse regularly features the assertion that the United States was founded as a Christian Nation. The debate around this issue often pivots on the religious proclivities of the founders themselves. According to the logic of framing the matter in this way, proving that the founders were themselves Christians clinches the point in favor of Christian nationhood. Alternately, emphasizing that certain founders lacked zeal, embraced deism, or rejected basic tenets of traditional Christianity, such as the divinity of Jesus, is taken to prove that they did not intend to create a Christian Nation. This debate, like so much else about religion in the public sphere in the United States, has been badly framed.

    The separation of church and state at the federal level aimed at reassuring people that no version of religion would be promoted by the state. These assurances appeared necessary. Americans wanted to avoid the problems plaguing Europe. Most Europeans lived under legal systems that established one version of Christianity and persecuted those who did not adhere to the state church. In some places that persecution was mild — blocking the wrong kind of Christians from holding public office or attending university, for instance; in other cases it was brutal — exiling all Protestants from France or warring against those of other faiths (in the "Wars of Religion" initially). These well-known religious politics made many Americans decidedly nervous that one religious group gaining the upper hand might impose limitations upon or even commit violence against those of other groups. A strong central government, as the Constitution aimed to create, would be able to adopt coercive policies, and those who hesitated to endorse its creation feared above all else that such power might be turned against their own freedom to believe or practice as they wished. Hence this assurance was enshrined in the first amendment to the Constitution, promised along with other amendments in advance of the Constitution's adoption to assuage these worries.

    True religious freedom, of the sort the United States eventually came to adopt, was also part of the revolutionary conversation. Captured most clearly in the Virginia Act for establishing Religious Freedom, this position promised everyone that regardless of their faith (or lack thereof), the government would not concern itself with matters of conscience. This agreement arose out of a compromise across a wide range of viewpoints. The unconventional Thomas Jefferson, raised an Anglican (in our parlance Episcopalian), rejected traditional Christianity in adulthood. While he wanted freedom from coercion to believe anything in particular, his strongest allies in the fight were Baptists, who wanted the same, but from the very different position of deeply faithful people who wanted to be left alone to believe and worship as they liked. They knew that the individual states much less the nation would never endorse a religious establishment that upheld their Baptist faith, so part of their support came out of fear of the tyranny of other Christianities. Yet, even if they had thought the government could be gotten to coerce conformity to their particular views, they remained opposed to a religious establishment or any government involvement in religion on principled grounds. They argued that the nation and Christianity should hold each other at arm's length. In other words the believers most similar in their faith to the advocates for Christian nationhood today explicitly opposed the creation of a Christian nation. They believed such a construction would ultimately be bad for Christianity.

    Clearly the idea that Christian founders thought, as do one subset of contemporary American Christians, that the United States ought to be a Christian Nation is false. The decision to separate religion and politics, to create a secular nation that made belief a private matter, earned wide endorsement. The question was not whether they were themselves deeply Christian (some were, others not). Rather the point at issue was how to keep religion and politics separate, for the safety and health of both.

  10. Daniel  •  Feb 27, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    Franco sez;

    "I would explain it to you. I would give you example after example of your ignorance".

    Whaddaya got for me except "would" and "would"?

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