By Frank Palmieri 

Virginia Beach

This year’s presidential primary season has certainly been politically surprising and at times really funny.

Jeb Bush, from a Connecticut Yankee family that moved into the South, dropped out early in the race, symbolically marking the end of the moderate (Nixon-Rockefeller wing) control of the party. The Junior Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz , who is a spokesman for the anti-federalists-anti-feminist wing of the party which plans to bring an end to the Second Reconstruction and a Women’s Right to Choose, has been running hard to catch the leading candidate.  

However, it has been Donald Trump, a political outsider billionaire, passionately supported by a populist revanchist-nationalist movement who appears to be closest to capturing the nomination. 

Secretary Clinton has been advancing an internationalist-identity politics agenda.[Click Read More below for rest of the story]

Bernie Sanders, an independent Senator from Vermont, running as a social democrat within the Democratic Party, is the only candidate making an outright class appeal. 

If Bernie is elected he would be fighting for his “socialist” agenda: free college tuition, Medicare for all, an expansion of Social Security, as well as downsizing the international bankocracy.  What needs to be explained is how we get a Jew from Brooklyn running as a social democrat from Vermont.  

Coming from New England, I can assure you that Vermont is not a mecca for “left” leaning politicians.  For most of its history it has been a Republican state.  It is the home of Republican President Calvin Coolidge. 

From 1854 and into the 1960s Vermont has voted Republican.  In recent years the Vermont legislature has been Democratic, but the governor’s office alternates between Democrats and Republicans. 

Vermont is not a place where one could build a political career advocating a program of social democracy, and Bernie has found a niche in Vermont’s politics by branding himself an independent.

For Bernie, running on the national level required a different political strategy; and in 2015 he joined the Democratic Party.  Using social democratic rhetoric permits him to point to several successful social democracies – Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany and Canada.  

Doing graduate work at the New School for Social Research, originally established by social democrats who escaped NAZI Germany, provides Bernie with a narrative that falls within his comfort zone.

Bernie may utilize social democratic rhetoric, but his program and policies sound more like an updated version of the Radical Republicans.  Very much like today’s Tea Party, the Radical Republicans operated within the Republican Party from 1854 to the end of First Reconstruction in 1877.  

It was this party faction that pushed for a radical reconstruction of the former slaveocracy. It passed and implemented programs that today would be “left” or “socialist.”

The secession of the South gave the Republican dominated Congress the opportunity to pass legislation that had been blocked by the slave states.  It was Republicans who passed the Homestead Act which gave for a small filing fee 160 acres of free land to settlers. 

The slave owners wanted these lands for large plantations.  To move settlers west, provide an inexpensive way to move products to eastern markets, and to unite the union, the Pacific Railroad Act subsidized rail construction with generous grants of land and government bonds. 

And to help the western settlers to be successful, the Republican Congress gave qualifying states a land grant of 30,000 acres for the establishment of universities to promote agriculture and mechanical arts.  At that time the national government had plenty of land and little money.

Lincoln and his successor, Andrew Johnson, would have preferred a more moderate approach. But the Radicals in Congress wanted to reform the South.  It was the Republicans in Congress that insisted upon liberating all slaves by passing the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.  

This is the only time in American history that the federal government has confiscated the property of a class – the slaveocracy – without compensation.  It is one of the most radical or, if you prefer, communist steps ever taken by our national government.

Vermont was the first state to ban slavery, and after living in Vermont for 52 years Bernie has inhaled Vermont’s Republicanism, but he just dresses as a Brooklyn Jewish socialist.