WASHINGTON — Let us ponder the mysteries of socialism and obstruction of justice.
Oh yes, I can hear your groans of protest. No! I’d rather go to the dentist or have a colonoscopy.
But this will only take a minute and is as necessary to our political well-being as nasty medical procedures are to health.
Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent and long-time member of the Senate known for ambitiously running for president but very little else, has just declared that he is, no surprise, running for president. He says he is a socialist and the Democratic Party is becoming as “socialist” as he is, only most call it “progressivism.”
Actually, most Americans do not like “isms,” except for capitalism. Even Elizabeth “big-banks-corrupt-absolutely” Warren, the Massachusetts senator also running for president, says she is a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist. California Democrat Kamala Harris, also running, disdainfully says she is not a socialist.
Sanders immediately got $6 million dollars from thrilled Bernie backers, making him a “front-runner.” The man he would evict, Donald Trump, laughed and twittered and clapped his hands in delight.
To many Americans, socialism means overthrowing capitalism and embracing communism. It means groupthink, doing away with private ownership and absolute rule by the Marxist state.
But to Bernie and his followers, the tenets of “American socialism” are far more acceptable. Affordable health care and insurance for all, now dubbed Medicare for All. Free college tuition or at least affordable higher education. A trillion-dollar infrastructure commitment to create jobs and fix broken bridges, roads, ports, rail, airports, dams, etc. A Green New Deal to wean Americans off carbon and combat climate change. A $15-an-hour minimum wage. Higher estate taxes for the rich. A repudiation of globalism and traditional trade deals.
The problem Bernie has is that he hasn’t a clue how to pay for any of these mostly laudable goals or how to get any of it done.
Trump says he likes Bernie, who applauded the tearing up of trade deals, which is causing havoc for farmers, small manufacturers and American exporters. And are costing consumers a lot of money. But if Trump could all but eviscerate Warren by disparaging her as “Pocahontas” for trying to prove she has a small amount of Native American blood (as millions do), think how Trump will trash a “socialist” if Sanders’ campaign has staying power.
Which brings us to Trump and obstruction of justice. Thanks in large measure to The New York Times, we have dozens of examples of how Trump has attempted to obstruct justice by thwarting the investigation into Russia’s efforts to spread disinformation and elect Trump in 2016.
Trump has now condemned, ridiculed or dismissed the integrity of probes into Russia’s meddling by U.S. intelligence and national law enforcement agencies about 1,200 times. No wonder millions of people have lost faith in their institutions.
Just as importantly, Trump has tried to subvert investigations of him and his business, such as the payoffs to women with whom he allegedly had sex.
If this were 1974, and Congress had statesmen and women who cared more about country than party, Trump would be undergoing impeachment proceedings. Trump has made Richard Nixon look like an amateur subverter of the rule of law. Trump has profited from the presidency by millions of dollars. Trump has impeded investigations and fired officials for doing their jobs. To the self-absorbed Trump, everything is about him. And he intends to be reelected.
Millions of people are waiting for special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian conspiracies, which probably won’t tell us much more than we already know. If and when the report leaks, Trump’s absurdly loyal base won’t care what it says anyway.
Sadly, we already have dozens and dozens of examples that prove Trump is a bad president, wrong for these times and, indeed, wrong for any time. We know what abuse of power looks like. We know what incompetence looks like. We know what obstruction of justice looks like. We know what misogyny looks like. It looks like Trump.
And we know what socialism looks like. It doesn’t look like Bernie Sanders, who has been accused of harassment of women, incompetence, being a blow-hard, being unable to move beyond his base, name-calling and who is doing his best to make his party unelectable.
Two politicians, one on the right and one on the left, cut, oddly, from the same cloth. Two men who like to blow up the establishment. Two men with giant egos. Neither plays well with others.
Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at email@example.com.