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February 14, 2020

Red-baiting

Opinion

February 14, 2020

With Bernie Sanders now having won New Hampshire (and probably Iowa, where he won the popular vote) and confirmed his position as the frontrunner for president in the Democratic Party primaries (the New York Times’ poll guru Nate Silver is giving him a better than 40 percent chance of gaining enough delegates by the end of the primary season to win the nomination on the all-important first ballot at the National Convention in July), it’s becoming open season on socialism and its more anodyne relative democratic socialism.

A few days ago, right-wing columnist Marc Thiessen, writing in my local paper, the ‘Philadelphia Inquirer’, mocked the catastrophic mess of the Iowa Democratic Caucus, where there is still, six days after the voting, no clear decision on who won, Sanders or Pete Buttigieg, blaming the fiasco on “the same brilliant minds who came up with Medicare-for-All and the ‘Green New Deal.’”

His conclusion, “The Democrats’ failure in Iowa stemmed from the same fundamental flaw that has caused socialism to fail (sic) wherever it is tried – the hubris of a tiny cadre whose grand visions and lack of humility far exceed their ability to deliver.”

Thiessen’s thesis fails on a number of factual grounds, of course. First of all, the failure of the Iowa Caucus was not the work of socialists at all or of the Sanders campaign. In fact the self-described social democrat in that race, Bernie Sanders, was the victim of the foul-up (if that is what it was and not sabotage). It was the work of neoliberal veterans of the 2016 Clinton campaign and the earlier Obama years who had teamed up to found a tech company, Shadow Inc, which got contracted by the neoliberal Democratic National Committee in secret to create a totally unneeded smartphone-based app for counting and tracking the votes in state caucuses and primaries.

The app was so poorly designed, so untested, and was presented so late and with no training to Iowa caucus workers that it failed stunningly, even awarding delegates to the wrong candidates. This has led experts to conclude that it may be impossible to find out who really won the Iowa delegate count.

What is clear and unarguable is that Sanders won the popular vote, both on the first round of voting, and on the second when supporters of losing candidates were allowed to shift their vote to their second-favorite top-tier candidate.

What Thiessen should have said was “The same brilliant minds in the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee who stole the primary from Bernie Sanders in 2016 are trying to do it again.”

But he couldn’t say that because he was so eager to tar “socialism” with the blame. He even linked the alleged “socialist” fiasco to Soviet Russia, citing a Soviet-era joke about it taking 10 years to get delivery of a car after purchase.

Thiessen’s not alone, though, in his willful ignorance about socialism – or in his willingness to lie about its reality in countries where its virtues have been practiced for over half a century.

Excerpted from: ‘The Red-Baiting of Bernie Sanders Has Begun and is Already Becoming Laughable’.

Counterpunch.org