This past midterm election was not only a win for the Democratic Party, but, more ominously, a gain for the dangerous and discredited doctrine of socialism.
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It has been widely reported that socialism has had its greatest appeal among the younger generation – the Millennials. If that is true, they will suffer the consequences to a much greater degree than we older folks Most everyone over 50 years old will coast through the rest of their lives enjoying the receding benefits of American free-market capitalism. You know, plentiful well-paying jobs, inexpensive education, two homes, three cars, a boat, maximum leisure time and the best healthcare in the world. Like skilled con men and women, we seniors will depart town – in this case, life itself — before we can be held accountable for what exists in our wake – figuratively and literally.
If the Millennials do see socialism as Uncle Sam’s credit card that can provide everything they want – free healthcare, free education, above-market minimum wages, expanded unemployment compensation, guaranteed employment and more welfare to underwrite desires more than provide for needs – they will be sorrowfully disappointed when their Utopian vision turns out to be a Mad Max world. If they embrace socialism’s grand delusion that they will not have to pay for any of it, they will pay for their own mistake – a mistake that was sold to them by people who will not pay.
It was not long ago that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders – the only avowed socialist in Congress – was a political oddball. The only media interested in his anti-capitalism class war diatribes was the now defunct radical left radio network Air America – where Sanders made a regular Friday morning appearance.
It is noteworthy that a person of Sanders’ age, 77, would recruit youth to socialism because he is one of those who will reap the benefits and not be around when the hardship hits. For decades, Sanders has endorsed policies that provide government benefits today while passing on the bill to future generations – one of the worst examples of taxation without representation.
In the United States Senate, Sanders was tolerated like an overbearing crotchety uncle. He was alienated even from the liberal faction within the Democrat congressional caucus. His legislative accomplishments in terms of his socialist platform were thankfully zero.
Things changed in 2016. Sanders – with his dogmatic socialist philosophy and no small portion of hypocrisy – became a credible if not a truly viable presidential candidate. He played well against the widely disliked Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – especially among many of the young Millennials.
In socialist tradition, Sanders made the so-called “one-percenters” the enemy of the people with bald-faced lies about their wealth and the benefits it provides. He conflated personal tax returns with corporate taxes – suggesting that tax breaks for corporations benefit only the wealthiest individuals. Contrary to Sanders’ claims, corporate tax cuts create jobs, income and wealth for millions of average Americans– not to mention all the increased value of the working class’ pension plans. Corporate tax cuts have very little effect on the personal income of the super-rich.
Sanders’ hypocrisy is stunning when you consider that, despite his thinning wind-blown hair and his rumpled clothing, he is a one-percenter – a man with multiple homes and fancy cars. And while he brags about all those “small donations” to his campaign, he fails to note his backing by some of the wealthiest people in the world – and that most of the wealthiest people at the top of Forbes’ billionaires’ list are major donors to the Democratic Party he embraced for purely pragmatic political ambition.
The Millennials should understand that within every socialist nation, the elites, who verbally bleed for the poor, maintain luxurious lifestyles at the expense of the poor. Because socialism destroys the fundamental economy, the poor get poorer – desperately and fatally poorer in many cases.
Sanders pulled the stake out of the heart of the comatose socialist movement more by accident than ability. Sanders was able to tap into both the natural idealism of youth and the longtime bias of our left-wing education system, news media and entertainment industry to mold youthful thinking. Socialism – the one thing Americans once disliked more than the Edsel, New Coke and yet another Rocky sequel — is again gaining as an acceptable economic philosophy among a growing number of young Americans.
Talk show palaverers, such as Bill Maher and producer Michael Moore, criticize Democrats for not defending socialism. After all, everything the government does is socialism, they argue – demonstrating a woeful ignorance was what socialism really is.
Many of those Democrat neophytes who won elections to Congress campaigned as socialists. While Millennials may feel an age connection with such newbies as Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez, they would be well advised not to embrace her radical policies.
But not all the socialists in Congress are newbies. There are closeted socialists, such as New York Congressman Jerry Nadler, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America – the same organization that spawned the more incendiary Ocasia-Cortez. Nadler will be taking over the House Judiciary Committee, and you can be assured that he will weaponize it as an attack vehicle against free-market capitalism.
It has not been since the 1930s that socialism had wheedled into the mainstream of American politics – then personified by Bernie Sanders’ political ancestor, Henry Wallace. What is notably different between then and now is that the earlier rise of socialism was the result of the Great Depression – when it appeared that free-market capitalism had dramatically failed, and unemployment was pandemic. It was also led in the past by the more senior generation – perhaps because the voting age was 21 and so many older heads-of-households were out of work.
The new era of socialism comes at a time of economic growth and prosperity and seems based more on youthful idealism and naivete than economic realities. Except for Sanders, very few older Democrats are talking up socialism beyond the party’s historic lean in that direction.
The world is full of examples of the tragedy and failure of socialism – and the Millennials do not need the long view of history to see the results. It can be seen in Venezuela – one of the most prosperous and successful nations in South America until they opted for Socialism in the name of Hugo Chavez. In less than a decade, Venezuela has become a failed nation from which millions of its citizens are fleeing for their lives.
Rutgers University student-columnist Louis Ruziecki addressed the allure of socialism among the younger generation when he wrote, “It is clear that if millennials should be blamed for anything, they should be blamed for their gullibility in believing in such a foolish system of governing.”
Socialism is the snake oil of economic politics. The promise is appealing, but the results are appalling.
So, there ‘tis.