Bernie Sanders: Why bog down in the grubby details of political life, when you can ride a single idea all the way home to utopia ?

Bernie and the ‘Lunatic of One Idea’
by Joseph Epstein
February 16, 2016

In his poem “Esthétique du Mal,” Wallace Stevens refers, in a memorable and useful phrase, to a “lunatic of one idea.” The phrase refuses to leave my mind whenever I hear Bernie Sanders—and I have heard quite a lot of him in past weeks—campaigning or debating or making, most recently, victory speeches. Mr. Sanders’s one idea is what he takes to be the stark economic injustice of too few people having too much money, and through the power of their money having tilted American life in a way that is vastly unfair, unjust, flat-out morally wrong. He has repeated this one idea so often, and with such ardor in its expression, as to make Johnny One-Note look like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mr. Sanders’s synecdoche for his idea is Wall Street. Everything wrong with American life can be charged up, in his telling, to a small neighborhood in lower Manhattan. Something old-fashioned there is about blaming Wall Street for all the country’s deficiencies. READ MORE SUBSCRIPTION CONTENT

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