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Being Clear About Bernie Sanders and Socialism

By Wesley Smith1582652532219

As the election cycle intensifies,  some Democrat candidates are ever-increasingly calling for programs and policies that are undeniably socialist. This is particularly true of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders calls himself a socialist and enjoys the support and favor of many in the Democrat Party.  He has won the first three contests for the presidential nomination.  Thus far, even his Democrat rivals for the nomination have been somewhat reluctant to take the gloves off in opposing many of his ideas. 

Look for that to change.  According to an editorial in the Wall Street Journal: “Democrats are waking to the prospect of a nominee who wants to eliminate private health insurance, raise taxes on the middle class, ban fracking and put government in charge of energy production, make college a taxpayer entitlement, offer free health care to illegal immigrants, raise spending by 50 trillion dollars, and tag every down-ballot Democrat with the socialist label.”

Socialist programs are expensive.  In countries such as some European nations, Cuba, Venezuela, and the former Soviet Union, socialism costs up to 70% of a nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  By comparison, government programs of all varieties in the USA account for about 20% of the nation’s GDP. 

Sanders demands raising multiple trillions of dollars in taxes. However, with fewer people working under his programs, tax revenues would actually decrease. Thus far, he dismisses questions about how to pay for his programs; to him that is irrelevant. However, his ally,  Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, has lauded several times a tax rate of 70% or higher.  This type of government program has wrecked several national economies, notably Greece, Venezuela, and the former Soviet Union.

In an interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN, Cooper repeatedly questioned Sanders about the cost of his programs and how to pay for them.  Finally, Sanders responded this way: “You know, I get a little tired of hearing my opponents saying, gee, how are you going to pay for a program that impacts and helps children or working-class families or middle-class families.  How are you going to pay for that?  And yet, where are people saying, how are you going to pay for over $750 billion on military spending?”  Never mind, of course, that Sanders programs would decimate the working class as it would wreck the economy and put thousands in the energy industry out of work and would harm middle-class people as he plans to significantly raise their taxes.

In this same interview, the Wall Street Journal noted that Sanders again appears to still be enamored with Former Prime Minister of Cuba Fidel Castro:  “We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba, but you know, it’s ‘unfair’ to say everything is bad.  You know?  When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did?  He had a massive literacy program.  Is that a bad thing?  Even though Fidel Castro did it?”  Bear in mind, this is the same Bernie Sanders who, at the height of the Cold War, spent his honeymoon in the Soviet Union.  CNN’s Cooper showed a video from the 1980s with Sanders explaining why in his view the Cuban people didn’t side with the U.S. and overthrow Fidel Castro.  Sanders said on tape it was because the bearded dictator in army fatigues “educated kids, gave them health care, totally transformed the society.” 

Interestingly, Sanders also promises free education for America’s youth and free childcare from birth to age 4, free health care and—notably—also calls for a total transformation of American society.  He believes that compromise and tweaking the U.S. economy is not enough; he wants an economic and cultural revolution.

Here’s the truth: the  concept of communism is tied directly to socialism.  The root of the word suggests that everyone would have all things in common.  Attempts to dress up socialism and downplay its communist attributes have not worked.  They are connected at the root, historically and practically.  Both philosophies espouse common ownership of property under the auspices of the government. Both involve state control of wealth, social services, and the production of goods and services. It also became quickly apparent in nations that tried it that there was still private wealth and the control of very valuable property.  However, the wealth and property became the domain of a select group of socialist leaders.  It was the penultimate redistribution of wealth. Ironically, elitism has always been foundational to socialism.

Socialism, this panacea where everyone has everything in common and all live fairly and happily (all by government mandate), has become the nightmare of government control and oppression everywhere it exists. Socialism—morally, politically, and historically—is the antithesis of the principles on which the United States was founded. 

In the 100 years since Russians established the very first “socialist state,” 100 million people have died at the hands of socialist and communist regimes. The reign of terror is not over.  While the USSR no longer exists, Russia’s Vladimir Putin regrets its demise and functions in the violent and autocratic style of communist leaders of the past.  North Korea, Venezuela, China and Cuba still hold out as regimes born out of, and inspired by, the Russian Revolution of 1917.

The masses lost not only their land and money.  They lost their freedom. 

In our constitutional republic, we  are guaranteed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  We are guaranteed equal opportunity not equal results.  We have the opportunity, with sacrifice and hard work, to control our destiny.  Obtaining some measure of financial security, or even wealth, is a possibility.  It is not a right.  But, contrary to what Sanders believes, success and wealth—even enormous wealth—is not a moral evil.  Sanders criticized millionaires until he became one.  Now the target of opportunity for him is billionaires—and the historic freedoms of every American, whether rich, poor, or somewhere in the middle.

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