Senator Bernie Sanders tops former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 44-37 in a poll of likely Democratic voters in the New Hampshire primary. A proud socialist in the driver’s seat in a state where they inscribe “live free or die” on the license plates speaks to what a long, strange trip it’s been.
Socialists normally run for president. They rarely call themselves socialists. The novelty of “Bernie Sanders for President” stems from his truth in advertising. But some truths one never prefers to advertise.
As an under-employed twentysomething radical across the border in Vermont, Sanders preached that sexual repression causes breast cancer, responded “Don’t all mammals eat the afterbirth?” to a woman describing how she dined on the placenta after delivering her baby, and ridiculed as repressed a society that compels clothes upon its children. “Now, if children go around naked,” Sanders mocked, “they are liable to see each others[’] sexual organs, and maybe even touch them. Terrible thing!”
Who put such weird ideas into the head of the would-be weirdo-in-chief? A troubled Austrian who believed himself a secret friend of the president whose administration put him in prison.
“We shall have to learn to counteract the murderous form of the atomic energy with the life-furthering function of the orgone energy and thus render it harmless,” the psycho psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich maintained. To this end, a few miles east across the New Hampshire border in a place he dubbed Orgonon, Maine, Reich built orgone-energy accumulators, magical wooden boxes often appearing in the shape of telephone booths. The thingamabob trapped an orgasmic energy invisible to science to rejuvenate those relaxing in the box.
Reich, who earlier anticipated Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” by “therapeutically” touching his patients and ultimately inducing orgasm (“Darling, you’re so great, I can’t wait for you to operate!”), now sought to channel these invisible sexual particles called orgones into a box to counteract the harmful death particles of the atomic age in order to cure neuroses and less harmful ailments, such as cancer. President Dwight Eisenhower’s Food and Drug Administration regarded Reich the way later generations saw Miss Cleo. They smashed his orgone boxes and sentenced him to a box, despite Reich’s imaginary relationship with the president and comparison of his prosecution to “the Murder of Christ 2000 years ago.”
Sixty years after the administration of the 34th president sent Reich to prison, one of his former(?) followers seeks to become the 45th president.
Mother Jones, which released Bernie Sanders’ strange scribblings from the sixties and seventies, describes the presidential candidate as “heavily influenced by the Austrian psychologist Wilhelm Reich.” Sanders quoted the quack approvingly. He noted “the link between emotional and sexual health, and cancer.” The candidate for president posited that the absence of orgasms often resulted in the presence of cervical cancer.
Shrooms would explain much except that friends of the senator recall him as a teetotaler when it came to hallucinogens and other narcotics. He remembered the sixties. He hopes America’s memory does not reach back so far.
Just as Sanders can’t blame the chemicals, followers putting him in first in the first-in-the-nation primary can’t plead ignorance. Though the Brooklyn-born bizarro didn’t exactly receive Queens-born Donald Trump’s treatment, leading left-wing publications, such as the DailyKos.com and Mother Jones, as well as more mainstream outlets such as National Public Radio and the New York Times, reported on Sanders’ strange days. One can only surmise that no left remains too far left for a substantial portion of Democratic primary voters.
Youth means to experiment in stupidity. So perhaps what Bernie Sanders says at 73 matters much more than the words he wrote at 37—or 27, which approximates the date of his Reich fixation. But just like the liberal Democrats rejecting the socialist label even as they embrace socialized medicine and other collectivist fixes, Bernie Sanders presents the most palatable version of Bernie Sanders to the voters. Presumably, this doesn’t include any spaceshot views on frigidity causing fatal diseases or the virtues of children eschewing garments. We can’t know if he believes now what he believed then. We can only hope that age awarded wisdom.
Sanders, even if one assumes he escaped his intellectual crush on Reich, remains enthralled by ideas that work as well as orgone energy. A cancer patient died after trips inside of Reich’s rectangular panacea. Whole nations collapsed into sickness after subscribing to socialism.