No one asked Bernie Sanders what he thought about the Greek referendum on Sunday, but he shared his thoughts anyway.
“I applaud the people of Greece for saying ‘no’ to more austerity for the poor, the children, the sick and the elderly,” Sanders said in welcoming Sunday’s vote, even as it rattled world markets and provoked predictions of economic doom. The statement didn’t just align Sanders with left-wing Europeans; it aligned him with lefter-wing Greek socialists who are too radical for some of those left-wing Europeans.
Democratic primaries have always featured liberal insurgent candidates, but perhaps none quite so liberal or insurgent as the socialist senator from Vermont. Sanders’ comments are a reminder of just how far the second-place Democratic presidential candidate stands from the American mainstream on some issues, and the looming reckoning Democrats face with their party’s leftward drift.
Never mind whether Sanders can crack 40 percent in any primary against Hillary Clinton — he has already established himself as her de facto challenger and a standard-bearer of a party that was, until this year, too far to the right for his liking.
“When I hear Bernie talk I’m almost inclined to accuse him of plagiarizing me,” said Ralph Nader, the left-wing gadfly whose third-party bid many Democrats still blame for swinging the 2000 election to George W. Bush.