The Return (Maybe) of Common Sense
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The stock market Monday took a look at the world around it and swooned, delivering likely the decisive blow to the Sanders candidacy and its proposed revolution.

Who wants a political revolution when economic forces are hard at work wringing vitality and optimism out of the economy? Isn’t that the question? The less we see and hear of Comrade Bernie amid the crash of his prospects, the sooner we can recover a measure of common sense in our deliberations.

Common sense is the commodity whose coming-apart in recent years has made the greatest noise. The retreat of common sense from its necessary place in the middle of public affairs has left the field to the wildest notions, not least Bernie Sanders’ notion, derived from all the “socialist” enterprises you ever heard of, that government can bludgeon a nation and people into bliss.

“You!” (Such is their address to us.) “Forget what you thought you knew. Anything you want to know about anything worth knowing — just ask the smart people, the people with your best interests at heart. The people who want to install Bernie Sanders in the White House so he can take the nation apart and put it back together in accordance with his enlightened ideas.”

Americans in 2020, their present president included, have an affection for language our mothers used to correct with soap and water. I will say to the aspirations and exhortations of the revolutionaries, the What-a-Great-Thinker-that-Bernie-is crowd, Hogwash! Stuff and nonsense!

I hope that conveys a sense of the direction — backwards, proudly backwards — in which our society must point itself in order to cleanse the important elements of life from the malarkey (a Joe Biden word) that passes in our time for wisdom.

Today’s revolutionaries ignore the common-sense reality that economies don’t build themselves. Someone has to build them — through imagination, daring, and hard work. Along with luck. And maybe that doesn’t produce absolute equality (by the reckoning of the University of Wherever’s sociology department), but it creates conditions whereby, in a climate of free choice, adjustments, and twirls of appropriate knobs, can improve matters.

The great heresy of the Sanders movement is that economic joy — such as we more or less experienced prior to late February — will stand up to all and any pressures. Coronavirus, say; Arab–Russian tensions, say, over oil supply and prices.

Sure it will. Just look at the stock market. Look at the challenge involved in reviving and resuscitating it — upon dealing successfully (a consummation devoutly to be wished) with the human fears and unforeseen circumstances that took the air out of the beach ball. To the socialist revolutionaries who look up to Bernie, adoration in their faces, you just declare a green revolution; you initiate Medicare for All; you abolish college tuition debt; you proclaim housing a human right. And don’t worry about the price. We’ll just tax the bill-yuh-naires and corporations.

Not that Joe Biden, as an economic savant, is to be confused with Milton Friedman. Biden believes in Big Government — but not in revolution and overthrow. He proposes, in accordance with the Gospel of Common Sense, to enlarge existing commitments, not uproot ’em. Democratic voters who paused a few days back to think over the difference between evolution and revolution seem to acknowledge and even appreciate that difference.

On the day of the market mess, a New York Post poll showed Biden with 52 percent support among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents; the poll likewise assigned Sanders an unfavorable rating of 52 percent. The RealClearPolitics pre-primary average for Missouri placed Biden 18.6 percent ahead of Comrade Sanders. The pro-Biden gap in Mississippi: 26 points.

Upon these statistics the Trump campaign — an earlier, more idiosyncratic product of the present revolutionary instinct — should gaze with apprehension. A Democratic turn, however partial, toward common sense would suggest powerfully that political success depends to a higher degree on results than on bombast.

“Bombast”? In a paragraph referencing the president, I mentioned untethered rants? Unfortunate. Let’s just say that, whoever the claimant may be, claims in the real world don’t equal reality. This least common-sensible of eras may be figuring that out. We have a ways to go, nevertheless.

William Murchison’s most recent book is The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson.

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