Berned Beyond Recognition: How Sanders’s Rise Changes U.S. Foreign Policy

It’s long past time for Democrats to stop pretending that Bernie Sanders is an aberration and his ultra-progressive brand of politics is going to go away. That’s one lesson to take from the Vermont senator’s decisive conquest—messy though it was—of the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer, former Vice President Joe Biden, in the chaos of the Iowa caucuses this week as the 2020 campaign formally got underway.

We’ll talk in a moment about the insurgent Pete Buttigieg, the come-from-nowhere wunderkind who was vying with Sanders for victory in Iowa with only partial results announced Tuesday night, following a major failure in the tallying of votes on Monday. But the powerful performance of Sanders and his fellow progressive, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in Iowa—while Biden trailed well behind—was evidence that some things probably won’t be the same come November, no matter who wins the Oval Office. One of those things is U.S. foreign policy. We are in a new era for both parties: the post-post-Cold War era.

What has changed? First, the Washington Consensus is mostly dead. This is the Reaganomics-lite that a generation of Democratic centrists, beginning with Bill Clinton in 1992, embraced and practiced after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the debunking of command economics. The Washington Consensus prescribed free trade, budget discipline, privatization, and deregulation. But over the years economists who have endorsed this approach have come to admit that they badly underestimated the effects that “hyperglobalization” would have in devastating America’s industrial middle class

The result was that many Democrats, or independent voters who tend Democratic, felt ignored by their party as it facilely endorsed globalization and Wall Street deregulation with scant attention paid to middle-class support, education and job retraining, and other policies designed to ameliorate the loss of industry to overseas competition. Many of these disaffected voters later supported Donald Trump.


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