Bernie Sanders, an avowed Socialist, is battling Secretary Clinton for the Democrat Party’s nomination for president. In spite of Clinton’s massive initial lead over him, Senator Sanders is now polling ahead of her in both New Hampshire and Iowa. More importantly Sanders is drawing much larger and more enthusiastic crowds than she does whenever he speaks. A CNN poll shows that if he did win the Democrat nomination he would defeat the GOP candidate in a national election. What does this say about the Democrat party and America, a country built on capitalistic/free market principles? Nothing good! The best any other Socialist candidate was able to do was when Eugene V. Debs, Sander’s personal hero, managed to win just 6% of the nation’s vote in the 1912 Presidential election.
Once upon a time, Americans prided themselves on their rugged individualism. The self-made man, someone who pulled himself up by his own bootstraps and who was dependent on no one, was the American ideal. Now, obviously, that’s changed. In 2013 the Census Bureau reported that more Americans were receiving aid from some kind of means-tested federal programs (welfare) than were employed working fulltime. Further, they reported that if recipients of both means tested and non-means-tested government programs (such as Social Security and Medicare) were added together it would equal 49.2 percent of the total population.
This means that there is already a large potential voting block that might be susceptible to the socialist agenda as proposed by Senator Sanders. To the Senator’s credit he seems sincere, and to be fair his platform has some good ideas, such as getting big money out of politics and curbing the crony-capitalism of Wall Street. However, his main goal is the implementation of even more entitlement programs. He is in favor of free tuition at public colleges and universities, a “living wage,” a Medicare for all single-payer healthcare system, and expanding Social Security benefits. He is also in favor of many New Deal type programs such as rebuilding our infrastructure and funding youth jobs programs. He wants stronger unions while businesses will be burdened with higher taxes and even more rules and regulations.
Some of the wildly cheering crowds that listen to Sanders are genuinely inspired by the Marxian ideal of, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!” As Winston Churchill observed, “If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart…” However, it is more realistic to believe that the majority of those attracted to Sanders’ message do so for more selfish reasons. Envy, after all is a very basic human emotion. The admonition not to covet your neighbor’s stuff has been around for a long time.
If you don’t have as much as the next guy it’s much easier to blame them than admit they are better off because they worked harder than you did, mastered a skill, or put off instant gratification. And, if you’re already getting government assistance it’s an easy next step to accept even more. Most people getting welfare, living in public housing, using food stamps, etc., are naturally envious of those who have a better life. That they are getting something they haven’t earned isn’t a problem for them. When politicians like Senator Sanders promise even more goodies, of course they think this is a great idea. Again, that’s basic human nature, but it’s something liberals don’t want to admit.
The problem is that sooner or later you will run out of other people’s money. When you have more “takers” than “makers” because policies reward bad choices while punishing hard work and good choices, things will fall apart. That Sanders’ supporters and many Democrats don’t seem to recognize this reflects their unwillingness to admit that people are ultimately responsible for their own condition. The rest of the famous Churchill quote goes, “…if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.” That certainly describes our liberal leaders, because only someone without a brain could possibly believe we can keep spending more than we take in forever. The grasshopper in Aesop’s fable didn’t believe that summer would ever end, but it did.