It wasn’t long ago that the likes of Sen. Jim DeMint were being made fun of for calling the Democrats “socialist.” But Cato’s David Boaz makes the interesting observation that we are so lucky as to have a naturally occurring benchmark in self-identified socialist senator Bernie Sanders, who, incidentally, caucuses with the Democrats.
Boaz dusts off his copies of the National Taxpayer’s Union and American Conservative Union’s guides, and discovers that there are plenty of senators who are rated more liberal than Sanders.
…42 senators in 2008 voted to spend more tax dollars than socialist Bernie Sanders. They include his neighbor Pat Leahy; Californians Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, who just can’t understand why their home state is in fiscal trouble; and the Eastern Seaboard anti-taxpayer Murderers’ Row of Kerry, Dodd, Lieberman, Clinton, Schumer, Lautenberg, Menendez, Carper, Biden, Cardin, and Mikulski. Don’t carry cash on Amtrak! Not to mention Blanche Lambert Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who apparently think Arkansans don’t pay taxes so federal spending is free. Sen. Barack Obama didn’t vote often enough to get a rating in 2008, but in 2007 he managed to be one of the 11 senators who voted for more spending than the socialist senator.
The Republican Liberty Caucus declared 14 senators, including Sanders, to have voted 100 percent anti-economic freedom in 2008, though Sanders voted better than 31 colleagues in support of personal liberties.
It doesn’t surprise me at all that if you go by the records, many Democrats are “socialists” at least by Sanders’s standards. Very few senators are ever obligated to acount for their overarching political outlooks. If they did so honestly, however, I would expect for the out-and-out socialists to come off looking much better than the many members who don’t care about much more than pursuing and guarding their own power.
Of course, no one would call the “centrist” Blanche Lincoln a socialist. The fact that she voted to spend more than Sanders says more about the effect the Senate’s concentrated power has on its members than it does about their relative personal philosophies.
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