Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders’ attempt to promote “democratic socialism” as a political platform recalls former Vice President Walter Mondale’s 1984 convention speech promise: “Mr. Reagan will raise taxes. And so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.”
A gift which my bosses at President Reagan’s re-election campaign accepted with undisguised glee. Especially when Fritz helpfully quantified his planned pocketbook raid, which our guys extrapolated to a $3,000 per-household hike.
Game. Set. Match.
For some inexplicable reason — perhaps tempting polls showing that 70% or more of Democrats find socialism attractive, or young gun Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s rock-star status — Crazy Uncle Bernie didn’t just climb out on a similar political limb with his own daffy idea to cling ever more tightly to the banner of “democratic socialism.” Like Fritz, he proceeded to saw the branch off himself.
Roared the Vermonter: “It is my very strong belief that the United States must … find the moral conviction to choose a different path, a higher path, a path of compassion, justice and love. It is the path that I call democratic socialism.”
Uh, huh. Certainly, going all-in on socialism is the new ticket!
So why isn’t the far-savvier Elizabeth Warren shimmying down the “socialism” branch in her own new platform, though her ideas are quite similar? Maybe because she’s instead cleverly purloining a page from nationalists by rebranding her equally far-left ideas as “economic patriotism.”
Meanwhile, Crafty Nancy Pelosi, who’s been around the block enough times to separate a trend from a fad, is busy chopping down the entire tree.
“I do reject socialism as an economic system,” Madame Speaker has lectured the left wing of her caucus. “If people have that view, that’s their view. That is not the view of the Democratic Party.”
But she needn’t bother. In the selfsame speech, Uncle Bernie heightened his folly with a not just lame, but downright laughable effort to repackage socialism for mainstreamers.
“(L)et me be absolutely clear,” he intoned. “Democratic socialism to me requires achieving political and economic freedom in every community.”
Oh! Now I get it. Socialism is about “freedom!”
You see, according to the deep thinker who spent his honeymoon in the Soviet Union, “true freedom” is about the government guaranteeing “economic rights.”
Sanders even lifts the nomenclature of Constitutional amendments that (at one time) actually did guarantee freedom — declaring “a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights.” Only his includes the “right” to a job, health care, education, “affordable housing,” “a clean environment” and “a secure retirement.”
Even as he seeks to hang the label of “authoritarian” — a term he used no fewer than 10 times — on President Trump and business interests.
Nice try, Unc. But you got it backwards: such “economic freedom” is the utter antithesis of “true freedom.”
It’s servitude and slavery in the form of abject and outright surrender of self to faraway masters. Who’ll dictate what manner of (and how much) health care, education, housing and retirement you’ll get. Who’ll seize control of any and all means of production or transportation, not to mention living arrangements, in the name of “a clean environment.” And in the process, will appropriate your most precious freedoms, over family and faith. (Note Bernie’s invocation of LGBT “rights” as well.)
Because these bureaucrats don’t share your values or views — and certainly not your aspirations. Their only value is more power, control, and money — until, as Margaret Thatcher put it, they run out of other people’s (meaning your) money. Then they’ll print more, or simply oversee the shared, rationed scarcity they’ve created, versus the “shared prosperity” Uncle Bernie hopes for, alongside social chaos.
Venezuela, where the erstwhile middle class eats out of garbage trucks and children and the elderly die in hospitals without power, equipment or supplies, is everyone’s favorite current example.
But you needn’t even to go there. Let’s tour “Democratic socialist” havens like the
Austria, where I once lived and where the trade off for “free” university education is 12-year-olds learning of their inescapable destiny as cosmetologists or car mechanics, and repulsive cement-block buildings memorialize Socialist efforts to ensure free housing.
France, where “yellow vests” — who chop wood since they can’t afford gas heating — protest massive energy taxes levied to prevent climate change. Germany, whose vaunted Energiewende to renewables is cratering even as it bankrupts consumers.
The entire Eurozone, where “economic security” translates to a “lost generation” experiencing unemployment rates of 19% to over 40%. Et cetera.
The good news: as Crafty Nancy, and more important, The Donald grasp, the public is smarter than new-look “Democratic Socialists,” and Uncle Bernie’s coming crash in the polls, already underway, will reflect his self-inflicted fall from his preposterous perch.
Voters saw through Fritz Mondale’s gambit. And America in 2020 will reject a concept of “freedom” paralleling that of failed and, in reality, truly “authoritarian” “Democratic socialist” systems worldwide.
Bob Maistrosis a messaging and communications strategist and crisis specialist. He was chief writer for the Reagan-Bush ’84 campaign, a former Senate subcommittee counsel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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