Politics & Media
Feb 24, 2016, 09:58AM

Bernie, the Boss, and Beatniks

Democratic socialist snowjob.

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The Nevada caucus wasn’t the only big political event scheduled for yesterday. There was also libertarian Daily Beast writer Andrew Kirell’s rock music performance at Brooklyn bar the Way Station. It’s the only bar in New York City with a life-size TARDIS in it—not that that makes everyone in the audience there a nerd. In fact, this month Kirell probably caused many nerds, me included, to lose just a bit more of our will to live by writing about “A Libertarian Case for Bernie Sanders.” He was not so much making his own argument for Berning as presenting the thoughts of various Sanders-leaning libertarians.

Even Charles Koch wrote a recent op-ed containing the mischievous line “At this point you may be asking yourself, ‘Is Charles Koch feeling the Bern?’” He may be feeling the Rub, too, though, since a prominent Koch associate has just become a Rubio consultant. We libertarians have to cover our bases when we have no base to speak of. We’re probably doomed this year regardless. I think campaign-abandoning Rand Paul showed the proper level of pessimism when he said it’s "scary" people want to vote for Sanders.

I suspect a thorough psych study (perhaps by Jonathan Haidt) would reveal that many libertarians, desperate for a “win,” just keep rooting for whichever of the two major parties they voted for prior to becoming libertarians—shifting which issue is purportedly “the most important one” as needed to maintain the rationalization for their sustained (and mostly unwarranted) allegiance.

If on some primitive gut level they want to vote, say, Democrat in a year that will produce divided government, then divided government is the best thing. If they still want to vote Democrat in a year that won’t produce divided government, well, Republicans are due for some punishment anyway. And in a year when Democrats have virtually nothing good to offer, well, maybe Bernie will end war but be stymied by Congress in all his other, terrible proposals (even though Obama didn’t and wasn’t, as Jason Kuznicki notes).

In any case, since Kirell really likes man-of-the-people Bruce Springsteen and has at least a tiny bit of sympathy for man-of-the-people Sanders, I close with the observation that, since we are all more than just politics, it may be kindest to think of both Springsteen and Sanders as, at heart, beatniks.

After all, as recently noted by The Forward, Sanders inspired these lines of poetry by beat giant Allen Ginsberg on the occasion of the latter’s 1986 visit to Burlington, where Sanders was then mayor. If you ask me, you can very easily imagine the Boss singing them (which is not entirely a coincidence, I suppose, since the shadow of Jack Kerouac looms over all of these men). However, Springsteen might not enjoy the line about popsicle-sucking children in quite the same way as Ginsberg (one of whose nosy neighbors a couple decades ago on the Lower East Side was a poet friend of mine): 

Socialist snow on the streets 

Socialist talk in the Maverick Bookstore 

Socialist kids sucking socialist lollipops… 

[A]ren’t the birds frozen socialists? 

Aren’t the snowclouds blocking the airfield Social Democratic appearances?... 

Isn’t this poem socialist? It doesn’t belong to me anymore. 

Todd Seavey can be found on Twitter, Blogger, and Facebook, daily on Splice Today, and soon on bookshelves with the volume Libertarianism for Beginners


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