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HORIST: Can Democrats survive socialism?

HORIST: Can Democrats survive socialism?

In astrophysics, we learn that any body that comes into the gravity field of a black hole is doomed to be drawn into the abyss that lies beyond the “event horizon” – the point at which the gravitational pull of the black hole is so great that even light cannot escape.  That bit of science may serve as a metaphor for what is currently happening to the Democratic Party.  It is the political black hole of socialism to which they seem to be inextricably drawn.

Socialism is like a virus that always exists in the body politic and occasionally breaks out of its dormancy.  During the Great Depression, socialism gained a degree of political favor – including the most virulent form, communism.  In fact, President Roosevelt’s second to the last vice president was a socialist – Henry Wallace.

Even in those economically desperate times, the unpopularity of socialism was evident.  Knowing that Roosevelt would not survive much past his Inauguration Day in 1944, the Democratic Party dropped Wallace from the ticket specifically to prevent a socialist from becoming President.  Wallace might complete the FDR terms, but it was widely accepted that the American public would not re-elect him.  Harry Truman was tapped for the second spot with the full knowledge of Democratic Party leaders that he would soon become President.

Socialism is again on the rise in the Democratic Party.  Democrats came perilously close to nominating Bernie Sanders, an avowed socialist, as the presidential standard bearer in 2016 even though he was never a member of the Democratic Party – not before and not after.  And for all practical purposes, he is still among the potential Democrat candidates.

Sanders was not the leading edge of the socialist movement within the Democratic Party, but rather the result of a dramatic leftward trend led by the election of such radical leftists as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison.

The left’s hold on the Democratic Party’s infrastructure was seen in the election of former Labor Secretary Tom Perez as DNC chairman and Ellison as vice chairman.

The upset victory of socialist Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez over the old guard Congressman Joe Crowley — a close pal of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and a member of her leadership team — inched the party further to the left. 

Ocasia-Cortez offers up her belief that free market capitalism is evil and doomed.  In its place, she proposes a Big Brother government that will provide by edict free healthcare for all, free education for all and a guaranteed job for every American based on a mandated “living wage.”  That is not socialism.  That is communism.  And, there is not sufficient wealth, even in America, to fulfill those political delusions without bringing the people of America down to the same impoverishment levels that those same false promises visited on the peoples of China, Russia, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela.

While it is clear that the Democratic Party has been losing favor in recent years, there is a divisive intra-party debate going on regarding the reason – one might even call it a schism.  It is based on two theories about the future of the Democratic Party.  Moderate Democrats – meaning those less radical than the socialists – plead to move the Party back to the center of the political bell curve where the clear majority of Americans exist.  Then there are the radical leftists and neo-socialists who argue that the Party needs to move even further to the left because of the Party’s dramatic decline over the past eight years. 

The socialists assume the setbacks of the past decade are because the Party did not sufficiently embrace socialism.  They harbor this belief even though all the data – scientific and anecdotal – strongly suggests that the voting public was rejecting the liberal policies of the Obama administration – which can hardly be described as moderate.

American socialists are no students of history.  The enticing everything-for-everybody promise has been tested time and time again.  It has been tried around the world in places like China, Russia and North Korea, where it has failed miserably.  Both China and Russia crawled out of the disastrous depths of socialism by adopting a number of free market capitalist policies.  North Korea is still in the grip of government run socialism and the disaster of socialism is just now being seen in Venezuela.

Some say it is unfair to compare the so-called “democratic socialism” to communism, but in terms of economic principles, they are siblings.  What Sanders and Ocasia-Cortez offer up is a virulent form of socialism that mimics communism.  It is more than just the economics of redistributing wealth by government decree.  Their socialism carries with it the communistic traits of dogmatic rote education, limitations on free speech, oppression of religion, displacement of consumer-based commerce, diminution of property rights, the end of constitutional-based courts and a political structure based on the rule by a permanently empowered elite. Those are the wolves beneath the sheep’s clothing of those utopian everything-for-everyone promises.  The Sanders/Ocasia-Cortez brand of socialism is the slippery slope that threatens virtually all the freedoms guaranteed in the United States Constitution.

The new emergence of the old socialism is not founded on a major cultural shift in the population – not even among the majority of those young Millennials.  It has surfaced through the Democratic Party which, itself, has come under the control of the extreme left – and not for the first time.  The rise of socialism during the Great Depression came from within the same Democratic Party. 

It was the Democratic Party that was taken over by the political left in the late 1960s and reached its peak with the change of the Party’s rules to favor the left and the disastrous 1972 nomination of South Dakota Senator George McGovern, arguably the most left-wing major presidential candidate in American history. McGovern suffered one of the worst defeats in American history despite the fact that his opponent was Richard Nixon, who was then up to his keister in the Watergate scandal.

It is no accident or coincidence that the virus of socialism should find its host in the Democratic Party.  The Party has long represented the authoritarianism of a powerful central government, confiscatory taxation and dogmatic culturalism, and socialism is an authoritarian economic philosophy.

So, the current question is whether the new rise of socialism within the Democratic Party will be any more successful than its past manifestations in what remains a right-of-center country.  Probably not.

The fringe socialist movement is enjoying the benefits of currently controlling the Democratic Party and imposing a revised platform – giving it a certain level of legitimacy in the public forum.  With the help of the Democrat-leaning media, the rise of Sanders from the obscurity of Vermont to the national stage and the victory of Ocasia-Cortez in that uniquely left-wing district in one of America’s most left-wing cities, has been heralded and promoted as a wave of the future.  Media personalities have described it hyperbolically as a grassroots revolution.

Great attention – and exaggerated meaning – was given to the visit by Sanders and Ocasia-Cortez to conservative Republican Kansas.  The impression to be given was that even in Kansas the socialism of this political great grandfather and great granddaughter team was popular.  In fact, the audience may have represented the entire Democrat socialist population of the state.  Putting aside my exaggeration, it is highly unlikely that the touted audience represented most Kansans.

Some Democrats argue that Sanders and Ocasia-Cortez are outliers in the Democratic Party.  Despite his impressive results in those presidential primaries, it is important to remember that Sanders has never been tested in a general election across the nation – and neither has Ocasia-Cortez.  On the other hand, she has been declared to be the “future of the Democratic Party” by no less a person than Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.  It is possible that Perez is correct in terms of his Party, but it is a very different question when looking at America across the board.

The embracing of socialism goes beyond a few Democrat personalities – even beyond those who hold key leadership offices.  Sanders, Ocasia-Cortez, Perez and Ellison are being invited into several congressional districts to boost the campaigns of mostly so-called progressive Democrats.  Their willingness to stand alongside the socialists within their party, to accept their endorsement and, by extension, to support the socialist platform indicates that the extreme left philosophy is seeping throughout the Democrat political structure.  As they say, fish rot from the head down.

The rise of the socialists, and the favorable publicity they are receiving from the left-wing press is influencing the establishment Party leadership, such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and former Vice President Joe Biden.  Their rhetoric, in style and substance, is starting to mimic the socialist wing of the Party.

This is an unusual time for the socialist zombies to be rising from the political graves that history has repeatedly consigned them.  Their earlier exhumations were in times of great social and economic unrest – the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Days of Rage in the 1960s. 

Today, it is the economy that is raging.  Interest rates are what they were in the 1960s and 1970s – before the era of high inflation. Unemployment is the lowest in decades – with historic lows for minorities.  Free Market capitalism is again proving itself to be the engine of prosperity that has given Americans one of the greatest and most sustained standards-of-living in the history of the world.

Much like a Super Bowl or World Series, the politicians and pundits are predicting victory in November based more on political biases than on sound reasoning and accurate analysis.  We will have to wait to see how well Democrats, in general, do in November and how well the socialist wing of the Party does.

Personally, I think the socialists will be fielding a very weak team against the free market capitalists.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.