The Corner

Sanders and the Job of Congress

I was listening to Bernie Sanders’s filibuster in the car a few minutes ago. He made an interesting statement. I’m paraphrasing, but he said the job of Congress — representatives and senators — is to fight for the interests of the middle class and their kids, or something very close to that.

It’s an interesting statement from an avowed socialist (I’m assuming the No Labels speech police will let me take Sanders’s own word for what he is). The idea that the middle class is the one deserving of protection runs counter to a lot of socialist theory, I’m pretty sure.

But that doesn’t interest me much. What does interest me is the suggestion that our legislators are supposed to be looking out for the middle class to the exclusion of other concerns. I thought, borrowing from Burke, our representatives owed us their judgment. I can think of any number of circumstances when the right thing to do would impact the middle class negatively. It’s really not hard to do. For instance, taking all the money from the rich and giving it to the middle class would “help” the middle class (at least by socialist reckoning), but such an act would — I hope — be unconstitutional or at least wrong in the eyes of Congress.

Oh, and speaking of the Constitution, here’s the oath that Bernie Sanders was required to take:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

I don’t see any reference to the middle class in there.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, will be released on April 24.

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