• 70°

John Hood: What if Bernie Sanders wins NC?

RALEIGH — The confusing jumble that was the 2020 Iowa caucuses proved to be a very public disaster for Hawkeye State Democrats, national party leaders, and the campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden.

It was also a disaster, although not yet as public a disaster, for another group: North Carolina Democrats such as Gov. Roy Cooper.

Cooper has amassed an impressive war chest and enjoys early polling leads against his likely GOP challenger, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. Other Democratic candidates for state and local offices have high hopes, as well, fueled primarily by the polarizing presidency of Donald Trump.

But if Bernie Sanders — headed from a strong performance in Iowa to a likely win in New Hampshire — ends up at the top of the ticket, all bets will be off. North Carolina Republicans couldn’t ask for a bigger favor.

Sanders isn’t a garden-variety Democrat. He isn’t even the kind of progressive Democrat who can now find a secure political home in urban counties such as Wake, Mecklenburg, and Guilford. Sanders is a self-professed socialist. In fact, he is a barely reconstructed apologist for communist dictators.

I use the term advisedly. In his early days as an activist and local politician, Sanders championed the Cuban revolution of Fidel Castro and the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. He honeymooned in the Soviet Union. Much later, in 2011, Sen. Sanders would even list Venezuela, then under the thumb of dictator Hugo Chavez, as one of the South American places where “the American dream is more apt to be realized, where incomes are actually more equal today than they are in the land of Horatio Alger. Who’s the banana republic now?”

Sanders did not praise Chavez personally, and he sometimes criticizes past actions by communist regimes. That’s why I call him a “barely reconstructed” apologist. While he may occasionally express regrets about real-world socialism’s broken eggs, Sanders has always been more about the omelets.

I know he intends nothing so drastic for the United States. But a man with such colossally bad judgment has no business setting foot anywhere near the White House.

For a party that promises to make the character and judgment of the current occupant of the White House the central theme of the 2020 election cycle, nominating Sanders would be one of the greatest self-inflicted wounds in American political history.

As for policy issues, the Sanders platform is full of dangerous landmines for Democrats.

There will be no need for Republicans to stretch the truth to make their case. Sanders really does want to increase federal spending by trillions of dollars — by so much that taxes would have to go up for most Americans, not just for the wealthy. He really does want to get rid of private health insurance and drastically increase energy prices.

Let me put it this way. I know Republican voters who held their noses in 2016 and voted for Donald Trump for prudential reasons, such as the balance on the U.S. Supreme Court, but who continue to disapprove of the president’s conduct as well as his spending and trade policies. I know Republican-leaning voters who picked Trump as the lesser of two obnoxious evils. I know truly independent voters who picked Trump as a disruptor in 2016 but voted Democratic in 2018 as a check and balance. Many of these voters might, under the right circumstances, be persuaded to vote against Donald Trump this fall.

Not a single one of them would vote for Bernie Sanders under any circumstances. And they’ll look askance at any North Carolina Democrat who offers even dutiful support for a Sanders presidential candidacy.

Yes, I’ve heard the countervailing theory that Bernie Sanders will attract and energize a coalition of young and infrequent voters so large that they will swamp any losses among swing voters. Color me unconvinced.

Democratic leaders in North Carolina can see what I see. They have long assumed Sanders would not be the nominee. So have I. But what if he is?

John Hood is chairman of the John Locke Foundation.



Man charged for stowing away on Norfolk Southern train, impeding railroad operations


Group will protest treatment of Georgia woman during 2019 traffic stop


Man overdoses at Piedmont Correctional Institute


Sheriff’s Office: Two men escape from jail, found in bushes on Fulton Street

Ask Us

Ask Us: When will North Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue be resurfaced?


Political Notebook: Rowan’s lawmakers pass 140 bills into the opposite chamber before deadline


Police chief to present use of force policy; city manager to present 2021-22 budget


Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on charges of felony larceny, possession of stolen vehicle


CDC director says mask turnaround based solely on science


Catawba College hosts three in-person commencement ceremonies


With high case loads causing numerous staff departures, Child Protective Services seeks more positions


Livingstone College graduates celebrate ‘crossing the finish line’ during commencement celebration


Rowan sees 4 new COVID-19 deaths as mask mandate lifted, vaccines administered continue decline


Spencer is latest town updating its development ordinance


Salisbury native Kristy Woodson Harvey makes NY Times bestseller list


Board of Commissioners will convene for third time in May


Biz Roundup: Salisbury, Kannapolis among recipients of Region of Excellence Awards


Cheerleading team competes at Disney


Salisbury High to celebrate football, swimming champions with parade

High School

High school girls soccer: Isley, Webb lead all-county team


Spencer awarded $10,000 to develop trails at Stanback Forest


‘Tails and Tales’ coming to library this summer


Public Records: March Deeds


Salisbury Symphony’s ‘Return to the Concert Hall’ available May 24-31