Magazine | February 29, 2016, Issue

The Revolution Will Have a Terrible Soundtrack

It is delicious to see Bernie Sanders push Madam Hillary leftward to the north of Lenin. It is revelatory to see the soul of the Democratic party channeled through a honking, septuagenarian collectivist whose ossified ideals predate Dylan’s going electric. It’s just a joy to watch HRC imply that Wall Street quavers when they hear the approaching clump of her sensibly shod feet, and to realize that the half-million-dollar paychecks they threw her like meat over the wall to satiate the wolves were wasted, all wasted. But at some point you have to realize that there’s a problem with Bernie: His fans are fools, his platform is a lie, and his music is the absolute worst.

His fans are often youngsters, nostrils full of the vaporish ideals favored by those who moved from the parental nest to the intellectual hive-mind of college. They believe that the perfect model for the organization of a diverse, immense, sprawling society like the United States is Amsterdam, because weed is legal and everyone rides bikes. This utopia is financed by taxes on the rich, whose obese corpuses are enthroned in gilded chambers like immense Queen Bees, dapper bureaucrats whisking off the gilded eggs they excrete. Awesome!

Conversations with these people can be lots of fun. 

One-tenth of the One Percent has more money than the gross national product of Gambia over the last ten years! Here’s a map. Point to Gambia. What? That’s not relevant. Two-tenths of the top 5 percent pay less in taxes than the entire school budget of the city of Chicago! If we raised taxes, poor kids would learn more! Would it affect critical factors such as family cohesion, or reading to kids when they’re young, or making academic excellence a primary cultural value? That’s blaming the victim. We need more investment! Raise taxes on the people who speculate! If we passed a tax on speculations, we could fund workshops on environmental justice that would raise awareness of the historic and systemic effects of industrial pollution in challenged areas that disenfranchise stakeholders in the transition to the new economy! God I hate rich people.

If you persist, you point out that the One Percent, if billed for Bernie-Bennies, will be found to have insufficient funds. The obvious rejoinder: Cut defense. These two words have an almost erotic appeal to the Left. When you note that the devolution of the U.S. military to the Coast Guard isn’t enough to pay for the Bernifits, they might shrug: Maybe not, but it’s a start.

Which leads us to the second irritation: Bernie’s lies. For Bernie’s plans to work, the State has to take your stuff. He’ll probably be content to take half, for starters. There are two ways to do this.

Jackbooted thugs, which certainly has an upside. The State could open massive jackboot factories in every state; hundreds of thousands of people could be employed designing, making, and distributing jackboots. (They would be unionized, naturally. The Jackboot-Manufacturers Union would have the power to sway elections.)

The Jackbooted Thugs, or JBTs, would be sent house to house to take your stuff to pay for Bernifits. This would be handy for finding bad mean scary guns, but that’s just frosting. The main objective would be taking half of your property, putting it on the truck, having you sign right here . . . and here . . . and here, thank you. You will be receiving a Citizen’s Entitlement Card in six to eight weeks, and it can be redeemed for aspirin or community-college lectures about Transgender Literature in Post-Colonial Asia. Have a nice day. Sorry we ran over your cat.

This would not go well. You can imagine the protests: “The JBTs came into my house to take half my stuff and broke up my Franklin Mint collectible ‘Legends of Nifty Fifties’ plates. Look on eBay! The Lucy one goes for $40, but it’s a hundred bucks if you have the Ricky one, too. What kind of economically illiterate tax-collection system breaks up a set?”

Or people might protest the confiscation on general principle, believing the government had no right to waltz in and cart away their stuff. Americans are odd like that. It gets our back up, by cracky. This is why President Bernie would never send out the JBTs but would simply use the old established method: taking your stuff before it lands in your hands. A 50 percent tax on everyone, with rebates to ameliorate the regressive aspects of the necessary VAT.

Lots of Millennials are fine with this, because they grew up under Obama and can’t imagine getting a job that pays much anyway. If half their income goes away and stuff’s free, they’re probably making out pretty good. Especially if you get, like, paid family leave for six weeks if you get a cat. (If the government runs it over, you get another one.)

Finally: The worst thing about the Sanders campaign, aside from everything it stands for, is the music. I heard a broadcast of a Bernie rally wherein two awful singers attempted to harmonize a version of “This Land Is Your Land.” It was like listening to a tree sloth mate with a cheese grater. When the youthful fans hear these wheezy old folky tunes, they believe they’re connecting with some pure, authentic era of American radicalism, when various bearded Commie-lite buskers crooned deeply meaningful speculations about what they’d do if they had a hammer.

I know what they’d do. They’d hammer down the doors of the kulaks to get the sacks of wheat hidden under the floorboards, is what they’d do. Jackboots are awesome if the right people are wearing them. Recycled plastics for soles, hemp for fabric? Totally sustainable.

– Mr. Lileks blogs at

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