The Bright Side of Bernie Sanders or Why Socialism will Fail
It now looks like the neo-socialists, in particular Bernie Sanders, are making a strong showing in the early Democratic Party primaries. The “moderate” candidate, Joe Biden, has slipped from the clear front-runner to a poor fourth place position.
How could there be such a turn towards the Left in a mainstream political party? It is in part a reactionary spam against Trump, but it is also a reflection of the evolving demographic shift as the Millennials become more involved in policy and now Generation Z comes of voting age. There is a growing rift between the older generations and the young.
Socialism is appealing to many, particularly those who may have yet to earn their way through the school of hard knocks to acquire a semblance of financial well-being, if not security. Once you become established, the government’s increasing appetite for carving away at earnestly won gains is less attractive.
Winston Churchill put it succinctly (although in the context of British politics), “If a man is not a socialist by the time he is 20, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 40, he has no brain.”
There is a perception in America today that Socialism means “free.” Bernie Sanders is promoting policies that provide essentially free health care (to the consumer). That is alluring in the face of high and rising premium payments the market seems to impose. I am not making the case that hospital systems and pharmaceutical companies treat customers fairly, but in the end “someone” has to pay for the benefits. In addition, Sanders has envisioned a program that would forgive student loans; quite the largess to those who have racked up debt. But what about those who worked to pay their way? Or those that have diligently paid off their debt? Or parents who saved and paid for their children’s college? Where is the equity in that?
The selling point of these policies is the notion that the government can magically make subsidies (that do have “real” costs) gratis. Enticing, but foolish. Sadly, it appears that some who are early in their working life-cycle do not foresee how this will negatively affect them in the future.
There is an even more damning aspect of the expansion of government and its drive to provide for its citizens. The more the state does, the less we have to do. This is manifest in the notion of Charity, the love of our fellow beings typically demonstrated by giving to those in need. This seems to be a dying concept. After all, “I pay my taxes and the government is providing a social safety net, why should I do more? I have paid my share.”
The greater our acquiescence to state intervention, the more disconnected we become. When we see homeless on the street, we demand that the government do something about it. This is manifest in our own community today. FEMA now supplants individual benevolence during crises. As this progresses, the social contract we have amongst ourselves degrades, pushing us to demand ever more government action. It becomes a perpetual motion machine increasingly alienating us from each other and our humanity.
Socialism is the great lie. In the end, it sterilizes us and eradicates our compassion. We become “classes” of citizens rather than human beings.
Socialism also undermines the innovation and productivity that are the engines of prosperity and individual advancement. A recent example is the move by the European Union to standardize mobile device charging systems. The government will dictate what type of cord your phone will use. Perhaps this seems reasonable as anyone in a household that has both Android and iPhones can attest. But, do we really want some bureaucrat to determine which technology is the best. Why would anyone try to build a better system if it can’t be implemented? Do we really expect government to be sufficiently agile to keep abreast of scientific improvement? Do we really want to place innovation in the hands of technocrats? Yet another infringement on freedom of choice. We do much the same here at home.
Piece by piece, like the slices off a salami, the government whittles away at our right to make individual choices. It steadily removes the consequences for poor decisions and depletes the benefits of positive risk-taking and innovation. It is a regression-to-the-mean, a slide towards mediocrity.
This is the real goal of Socialism. Everyone is “equal,” regardless of their talents or behavior. It is a very different concept than having an equal “opportunity” at success. Herein lies their true notion of “diversity,” not that we tolerate disparate ideas, even radical ones, rather that we all look and act the same, so long as we have the “politically correct” views.
Regrettably, our youth and some portions of the general population fail to grasp that “Socialism is the road to serfdom,” to dependence on the state rather than one’s own efforts. I doubt that they ever stood watch across a fence topped with razor-wire, and a plowed “dead zone” interspersed with mines, staring at the evils of a totalitarian socialist state as I did during the Cold War on the East German border. They do not know the history of the inevitable slide from communal ideals toward controlling government action.
We are witnessing the self-immolation of the Left. If Bernie Sanders, or a politician of similar ilk, wins the Democratic nomination, there will be a significant victory for the Republicans. People, regardless of their affiliation, who have built a life with something to lose, will vote against the tyranny of the radical leftist approach. On election day, many Democrats may deny they did so but will hold their nose and vote for Trump.