The Socialist Squirrel – Wall Street Journal

 In Health

Alderman Howard Brookins Jr., who represents Chicago’s 21st Ward, doesn’t like squirrels. Apparently they don’t like him either. He had denounced the creatures for being “ ‘aggressive,’ and aggressively damaging the trash cart lids,” the Washington Post reports. The Sciuridae family took their revenge: “One [member] recently sent him to the hospital with a skull fracture in a ‘freak bicycle accident,’ as the alderman wrote on Facebook.”

They say even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and again, and—oh, look! Bernie Sanders! WBUR-FM reports the septuagenarian self-described socialist senator from Vermont was speaking at Boston’s Berklee Performance Center when a questioner asked him, in the reporter’s paraphrase, “how she could become the second Latina senator in U.S. history.”

Who knew Sanders was Latina? But if the question’s premise was puzzling, the senator’s answer was interesting:

Sanders said a candidate’s gender or race isn’t enough.

“I have to know whether that Latina is going to stand up with the working class of this country and is going to take on big money interests,” Sanders said.

He added:

“Here is my point—and this is where there is going to be a division within the Democratic Party. It is not good enough for somebody to say, ‘I’m a woman, vote for me.’ No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry.

In other words, one of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics. I think it’s a step forward in America if you have an African-American CEO of some major corporation. But you know what, if that guy is going to be shipping jobs out of this country, and exploiting his workers, it doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot whether he’s black or white or Latino.

As Graham Vyse of the New Republic notes, it’s not clear to what extent Sanders is rejecting identity politics. Does he mean—in Vyse’s words, please note—that “Democrats should pursue an economic populism that doesn’t address the unique challenges faced by women, people of color, LGBTQ Americans, and other marginalized groups”? Or just that they should “layer a big dose of economic populism on top of these social-justice concerns”?


Sanders isn’t exactly a scourge of political correctness; he routinely rails against the usual liberal litany of hated isms and phobias. Example: “There is no compromise on racism, bigotry, xenophobia and sexism. We will fight it in all its forms, whenever and wherever it re-emerges.” (What’s most telling about that tweet is the word “it.”)

Still, Sanders has stumbled upon the proverbial nut in observing that if the Democrats are wedded to identity politics, they err in forsaking all other forms of politics. The New York Post has a good example. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio is challenging Nancy Pelosi, who has served as minority leader for three terms since Democrats lost their majority in 2010:

Ryan [is] running on a platform of connecting to working-class Americans whom Democrats have neglected.

“We’ve got to address that, and we got to address it quickly. And these are working-class people,” Ryan told NPR in an interview.

“They don’t want to get retrained, you know, to run a computer. They want to run a backhoe. They want to build things,” he added.

Shut up, Ian Millhiser mansplained. Millhiser is “justice editor” of ThinkProgress, a website run by John Podesta, who was chairman of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign. “[I am offended by] this thing where an obscure male backbencher thinks he deserves to replace the most accomplished woman in Congress is how sexism works,” Millhiser tweeted Sunday.

He added: “I’m genuinely curious if anyone can argue why Tim Ryan should replace Pelosi other than ’she was in the job when something bad happened.’ ” We have no brief for Ryan, but we can think of two possible reasons: (1) It is normal to hold leaders—even female ones—accountable when “something bad” happens while they are in charge, and (2) Ryan, who represents a largely white-working-class district that includes Youngstown, may—like Sanders—have some insight into that failure.

Meanwhile, the New York Times visits a black neighborhood in Milwaukee and finds some surprising attitudes toward the new president:

Few of the men and women interviewed on West North Street last week had voted for Mr. Trump, though many said they admired him. (He spoke his mind. He was rich.)

“If I would have voted, I would have voted for him,” said Andre Frierson, 40, a security guard working the evening shift at Jake’s. “From a business perspective, I loved him.” . . .

One exception was Justin Babar, who said he voted for Mr. Trump as a protest against Mrs. Clinton. He blamed her husband’s policies for putting him in prison for 20 years.

As for the claims of racism that have dogged Mr. Trump, Mr. Babar wasn’t so worried. “It’s better than smiling to my face but going behind closed doors and voting against our kids,” he said.

Tarvus Hawthorne, 45, a program coordinator at a local nonprofit, agreed.

“He was real, unlike a lot of liberal Democrats who are just as racist” but keep it hidden, he said, his jaw slathered with shaving cream. “You can reason with them all day long, but they think they know it all. They want to have control. That they know what’s best for ‘those people.’”

Still, he voted for Mrs. Clinton, as did many others here.

These sound like voters Trump has a chance of winning over, assuming he seeks re-election in 2020. TNR’s Vyse concludes his Sanders piece with this advice:

If he’s figured out a way to speak to blue-collar whites again, while simultaneously broadening the Democratic Party’s economic message for Latinos, African-Americans, Asians, and white Millennials, let’s hear it.

What really should worry Democrats is that Trump and the Republicans will figure out a way to keep speaking to blue-collar whites while simultaneously broadening the message for Latinos, African-Americans, Asians and white millennials.

Two Papers in One!

  • “Editorial: A Principled Option for U.S. President: Endorsing Gary Johnson, Libertarian”—headline, Chicago Tribune, Oct. 2
  • “Editorial: The Trumps Should Live in the White House”—headline, Chicago Tribune, Nov. 22

Out on a Limb
“NYT’s Public Editor Is Right. Its 2016 Coverage Could Have Been Better”—headline, Washington Examiner, Nov. 21

We Blame George W. Bush
“Who’s Really to Blame for the Rigging of the Mainstream Media?”—headline, AdAge.com, Nov. 22

What Would We Do Without Experts?
“Dental Experts Slam Coca Cola Truck Amid Fears Over Kids’ Teeth”—headline, South Wales Evening Post (Swansea), Nov. 22

Life Imitates the Onion

  • “DNC Aiming to Reconnect With Working-Class Americans With New ‘Hamilton’-Inspired Lena Dunham Web Series”—headline, Onion, Nov. 15
  • “ ‘Hamilton’ Cast Makes Appeal to Attendee Mike Pence, Amid Emotional Audience”—headline, NPR.org, Nov. 19

If You Had to Deal With the VA, You’d Be Surly Too
“Two Surly Veterans Are Opening Their Own Brewpub in St. Paul’s Lowertown”—headline, StarTribune.com (Minneapolis), Nov. 21

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