Ever notice how some of the people who decry capitalism the loudest are the ones who benefit from it the most?
Take Bernie Sanders, for instance. The self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” and erstwhile presidential candidate has pretty much spent his life as a Crusader for the Proletariat, diving into politics from an early age and never coming back up. After winning his first race for mayor of Burlington, Vermont back in 1981, Sanders has been in some form of elected office ever since—in other words, spending his entire career at the public trough, never holding down what any of us might recognize as a real job. Still, along the way he’s managed to amass a three homes and a bankroll somewhere in the neighborhood of a couple million bucks—hardly a fortune compared to the Clintons and Obamas, but a lot more than most people will ever see.
And that’s what makes his wealth—gleaned from forty years of public “service”—kind of a touchy subject, as a recent tête-à-tête Sanders had with a New York Times reporter shows. Sanders, you see, has been challenging Donald Trump to release his tax returns, and to prove his own tough-guy bona fides has thrown down a challenge:
“On the day in the very immediate future, certainly before April 15, we release ours, I hope that Donald Trump will do exactly the same. We are going to release 10 years of our tax returns, and we hope that on that day Donald Trump will do the same.”
But when the Times reporter pointed out Bernie’s own pile of filthy lucre, things got a little testy.
“I wrote a best-selling book,” he declared. “If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.”
Now far be it from me to disparage anyone’s literary success, because heaven knows I’ve spent my share of time hawking my own books. If a publisher really wants to part with $795 grand for a polemic by an ornery old Marxist called Our Revolution, then more power to him. But Sanders shouldn’t pretend that his good fortune has much to do with his dazzling prose style, or putting the years of hard work in as a writer and finally catching his big break.
No, he’s simply doing what practically every other politician does and making money of the notoriety he gained from being a public “servant.”
And that, given all of Sanders’ posturing about the evils of capitalism, is what really frosts me. Yeah, sure—there’s the obvious hypocrisy of a socialist raking in the cash from peddling his wares in the free market. What’s worse, however, is how big government facilitated him getting those big bucks. As Jesse Kelly pointed out on Twitter, “Presidential candidate is the newest grift in town.” Even when you lose, you win.
So sure, Bernie, I’ll keep on trying to write a bestselling book so I can be a millionaire too. Unlike you, though, I’ll just have to do it on my own.