Bernie Sanders is running for president again, not that he ever really stopped. Before you drop everything and watch his second campaign video, take half a moment to appreciate just how much America and the Democratic Party have changed in the past four years.
Pull up Sanders' first presidential announcement speech. Notice how familiar his words sound. Virtually all of the themes in Sanders' announcement speech are what, in the end, got Donald Trump elected: the collapse of the middle class, the crushing cost of health care and student loans, the pointlessness of perpetual war in the middle east, the distorting effect of Washington lobbyists and donors, the dangers of corporate power, the need for better jobs and higher wages, the generational disaster that is our trade policy. It's all there. Everything but "build a wall."
Sanders is often described as a 1970s-era socialist, but what he was really selling wasn't Marxism; it was economic populism. An awful lot of people agreed with it. Many of them voted for Trump. In case you've forgotten, here's what Sanders was saying back then:
"I am fighting to break up the large banks on Wall Street. I do want the opportunity to tell them face-to-face what their greed and illegal behavior have done to this country. If Wall Street does not end its greed, we will end it for them."
You can disagree about whether Wall Street is really driving America's decline. But looking back, there was something touchingly old-fashioned about the Sanders campaign. He made no appeal at all to interest groups. He explicitly opposed them. He talked about national unity and the people left behind. Sanders was running for Americans, all of them, whether you agreed with him or not.
Needless to say, Sanders quickly found himself at war with Democrats. The modern Democratic Party has no place for the idea of nationhood. Modern Democrats are defined by "identity politics," the idea that the accident of your birth determines your value. What matters isn't what you do; it's who you are genetically.
Old white men are not a favored group in the Democratic Party, to put it mildly. And yet, Bernie Sanders is undeniably all three of those things. So how do you win the nomination of a party that hates you for qualities you can't change? There's only one solution: embrace identity politics. Here's what Sanders said in his second presidential announcement video:
"Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice. Our campaign is about redoubling our efforts to end racism, sexism, homophobia, religious bigotry and all forms of discrimination."
OK, but what then? Racism and sexism aren't actually the biggest problems America faces. Growing economic stratification and a dying middle class are. Nobody in Washington wants to talk about those things. Why would they? They're richer than ever. A change to the status quo is a threat to them. Better to have the population squabble over unresolvable questions of identity. A nation arguing about skin color isn't asking how a tiny group of people is now flying private while almost everybody else has gotten poorer.
Cory Booker went to Stanford, Oxford and Yale. His parents were IBM executives. Privileged? Cory Booker defines the word. Now that he's running for president, it would be interesting to hear Booker explain why he's allowed his friends in the finance world to pay probably half the tax rate you're now paying. But he likely won't get to that. Instead, he'll talk a lot about racism, including the racism he's personally experienced as a powerless person — a powerless person who went to Stanford, Oxford and Yale, whose parents were IBM executives.
You see what's going on here. It's a scam, not so different from the one Jussie Smollett just pulled. The people oppressing him, he told us, were Trump voters, badly educated thugs from some rural backwater, probably. Those people. They're the problem. They must be crushed.
Somehow, the left tells us, the weak are now oppressing the strong. The old left would have felt some sympathy for the people our economy has left behind. Not anymore. The new left reveres Booker and people like him. When Smollett's alleged attack was clearly exposed as a fraud, the left defended him without saying so. Booker said, "I'm going to withhold until information comes out from on-the-record sources." And Kamala Harris said, "I'm not going to comment until I know the outcome of the investigation."
Bernie Sanders would probably say the same. He has to. That's what's required now.
Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel co-founded The Daily Caller, one of America's fastest growing online news outlets, which regularly breaks news and distributes it to over 15 million monthly readers. Carlson and Patel also co-founded The Daily Caller News Foundation, a nonprofit news company that trains journalists, produces fact-checks and conducts longer-term investigative reporting. The Daily Caller News Foundation licenses its content free of charge to over 300 news outlets, reaching potentially hundreds of millions of people per month. To find out more about Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com