WRITTEN BY Tim Fernholz
The last socialist to freak out the establishment with a radical plan, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, said Vermont senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is earning votes for his common sense, not his political theory, in a recent Quora post:
Last year, the Greeks elected people like me not because they suddenly became leftwing! Similarly with Bernie Sanders. The New Hampshire voters did not suddenly discover they were democratic… socialists! They just had enough of phoney politics and decided to back someone who has been saying the same common sense stuff for decades. They would not vote for a ‘transition to socialism’ (like my voters would not have voted me in last year if I was proposing such a ‘transition’ to them).
But they understand that Bernie and us—his comrades on the Atlantic’s other side—are modest in our aims. We understand that socialism is far, far away—and that it will probably only become pertinent when technology develops further … For now, all we propose is the return to basic liberal democratic principles that the establishment has confined to the dustbin of history—at the cost of everyone (except some, very few, entrepreneurial spivs).
Varoufakis captivated the media with his long-shot efforts to push his country out of a punishing debt repayment plan, but they ended in his own resignation and national capitulation to the EU’s unrealistic demands. Last week, the IMF official in charge of monitoring Greecewrote that that the country’s inadequate pension reforms and the EU’s refusal to consider debt relief mean a Greek exit from the euro zone will soon be back on the table.
In contrast, Sanders’ plans for the US, including single-payer healthcare and publicly funded education, are well within the political mainstream of Europe—even in tight-fisted Germany, Varoufakis’ sworn enemy.