A second problem that I have with Bernie Sanders' campaign to be President is his utter lack of concern for the well-being of the poor.
Earlier, I wrote about Sanders' use of the "politics of other" to promote his candidacy. This is a campaign tactic where a candidate identifies some group to identify as "other". The target audience is told that "the other" is responsible for their problems and that the candidate will get tough on "the other" if elected. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump identifies foreigners and Muslims as "the other". Bernie Sanders targets billionaires.
Sanders' other problem is a disregard for the very poor.
In making this accusation, I am referring to the very poor on a global scale.
The World Bank reports that, in 2012, 12.7 percent of the world's population (900 million people) lived on less than $1.90 per day, while 29.4 percent (2.1 billion people) lived on less than $3.10 per day. In 1981, 44 percent of the population lived in extreme poverty.
Most of these gains occurred in China, where "753 million people moved above $1.90 threshold" between 1981 and 2012.
For somebody worried about poverty, it would seem that this is a good thing.
A person who was concerned with the plight of the very poor, it would seem, would consider this to be a good thing, and would want to see this continue. He would want to see the remaining 900 million people moved above the lower line, then see everybody move above the upper line.
Sanders almost never discusses global poverty. The fate of the poorest of the world's poor seems not to interest him.
This fact sits beside the fact that Sanders presents himself as an advocate of economic justice. He expresses a strong moral concern with economic equality. This would seem to entail some measure of concern for those people living on less than $1.90 per day.
However, Sanders simply dismisses the plight of the world's poor.
In a Vox interview, Bernie Sanders said:
I think from a moral responsibility [sic] we've got to work with the rest of the industrialized world to address the problems of international poverty, but you don't do that by making people in this country even poorer.I know of no way of interpreting Sanders' moral claim here other than to say that it counts as a legitimate objection to a policy that aids those in poverty that the program reduces the wealth of those who have much, much more."
Let us imagine a convention of millionaires in a hotel somewhere. Imagine that somebody brings up the issue of poverty - even American poverty. Imagine the individual in that room saying, "I support the Bernie Sanders doctrine. I think from a position of moral responsibility we've got to work with the rest of the country to address the problems of poverty, but you don't do that by making people in this room even poorer."
The important fact to note is that Bernie Sanders has given voice to this very same principle. He has used it in defense of his policies. Either there must be some morally valid reason why this a valid moral principle when Bernie Sanders utters it but not when the millionaire in the room utters it, or Sanders is guilty of hypocrisy. It is a hypocrisy that he can avoid only by choosing to be concerned with the plight of those living on less than $1.90 per day and saying, "Yes, the quality of their lives matter."
Furthermore, the fact of the matter is that the successes against global poverty have not made the people in this country even poorer. Real median household income in the United States has risen approximately 10 percent over the same time period - from about $46,000 in 1981 to $51,000 in 2012 in real dollars. Certainly, many Americans would have liked to have seen a faster rate of increase, but Americans have not been made poorer.
The "make Americans poorer" argument is a rationalization - a lie (if Sanders knows what has happened to American median income during this time period), or a fiction embraced as true because of its political usefulness.
More to the point, there is reason to believe that some of the policies Sanders will pursue will reverse some of the progress that has been made. If a policy - such as restricting international trade - would have the effect of throwing 100 million foreigners back into extreme poverty, Sanders' attitude suggests that he would not see this as a relevant concern.
One of the things that I seriously dislike about Sanders' campaign - is the fact that he refuses to even address the fate of the people in the world living at near poverty. It is one thing to refuse to have a plan to help these people. It is another to refuse to address very real possibility that one is advocating policies that will make their situation worse - that will reverse 30 years of progress.
The only sensible conclusion to draw from these facts is that, to Sanders, those people simply don't matter.
Here, too, we see Sanders' adopting a moral attitude that is very similar to the attitude that Donald Trump expresses - though Trump is more vocal in his defense. This involves the utter disregard for the well-being of foreigners. Those who are not Americans are not "people" in an important sense. What happens to them is not a moral concern.
The differences is that, while Trump expresses an active hostility towards foreigners, Bernie Sanders simply doesn't care about them. If we return 1.2 billion to severe poverty - well - they're not Americans. It's not as if their suffering actually matters.