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Issues & Insights

Joe Biden, Snookered By the ‘S’ Word

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the “moderate,” precarious front-runner in an ever-more immoderately left-wing Democratic Party, has been caving into the radical Democrat base like crazy. With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal all the buzz, he unveiled his own $5 trillion climate change plan — immediately exposed by the Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson as not even being his own. More glaring still, he’s made a 180-turn left from four decades of opposing on principle federal funding for abortion.

But as awkward as those two capitulations look, the rival whose teeth are closest to Biden’s heels, Sen. Bernie Sanders, may have just shrewdly made it next-to-impossible for Biden, or any other perceived centrist, to be the one to take center stage in Milwaukee at the party convention next year.

Staged as a major speech defining his candidacy last Wednesday at George Washington University in Washington, longtime explicit socialist Sanders delivered nearly 4,000 words, using the word “socialism” or “socialist” some 27 times. For the party’s grassroots activists the label is no longer The Ideology That Dare Not Speak Its Name, and Sanders’ carefully-crafted address even brashly appropriated some pro-free market rhetoric. “Democratic socialism to me requires achieving political and economic freedom in every community … through a political revolution,” Sanders declared.

Socialism is economic freedom? That takes chutzpah.

He claimed we’re all socialists now because in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, “Wall Street became big government socialists and begged for the largest federal bailout in American history.”

And he argued that Americans have actually never really been free. “Are you truly free if you are unable to go to attend college or a trade school because your family lacks the income?” Sanders asked. “Are you truly free if you are forced to work 60 or 80 hours a week because you can’t find a job that pays a living wage?”

Non-Socialism Not An Option

Two of the nearly two dozen Democrats running for President were roundly booed in San Francisco as they spoke to California’s state party convention two weeks ago: former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper for warning that “socialism is not the answer,” and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney for warning that Sanders’ Medicare For All — the latest name for single-payer Euro-style socialized medicine — is “not good policy, nor is it good politics.”

As prone as Biden is to the gaffe, he and his handlers know enough to refrain from even uttering the word socialism — until perhaps at some point in the campaign he finds himself forced to address the issue. The problem is that with much of the party as radicalized as it now is, renouncing socialism is something Sanders and others will attack Biden on, and it could cost him the nomination.

If Biden gets the nomination without some sort of endorsement of socialism, or even if he finds a way, short of that, to appease liberal voters fond of the word and what it connotes, he has already moved to the left and appeased the self-proclaimed socialists so much, President Trump will be able to go far in portraying Biden as a puppet of the most extreme elements of his party.

And it will not be Bernie’s wishful, American-as-apple-pie exposition of socialism Trump paints a picture of for the voters next year. He will use the record of real-world socialism.

Imagine, for instance, Trump pointing to the experience of Britain, where they know the horrors of socialism all too well. The latest manifesto, “For the Many, Not the Few,” served up by the British Labour Party’s far-left leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has struck up a fast friendship with AOC, fails to make mention of “socialist” or “socialism” even once in its 123 pages. The word’s luster was lessened by both the Conservative Party’s three-time election winner Margaret Thatcher and Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, who in his first bid for power in 1997 hid and suppressed the party’s socialism by changing its name to “New Labour,” apparently the only way the “party of the people” could win.

The Right To Healthcare Horrors

Britain’s National Health Service has been in operation for over 70 years, and Labour’s manifesto once again declares it to be “our proudest achievement.” Yet for the average American voter, a quick glance at Corbyn’s NHS promises is enough to cause swearing off forever the idea of voting into power a collectivist economic philosophy of any complexion:

“We will guarantee and uphold the standards of service to which patients are legally entitled under the NHS constitution,” Corbyn’s Labour Party promises. “By guaranteeing access to treatment within 18 weeks, we will take one million people off NHS waiting lists by the end of the next Parliament.”

Decades of socialism in action prove that paper guarantees are no match for bureaucratic incompetence. The U.S. system may itself have more than its share of government over-regulation, but is there an American in the last 30 years, whether under employee coverage, Medicare or Medicaid, who has ever been forced to wait anything approaching 18 weeks — roughly four months — for, say, heart surgery or cancer treatment?

The British socialist manifesto continues: “We will guarantee that patients can be seen in A&E [emergency services] within four hours. By properly resourcing the NHS, Labour will stop the routine breach of safe levels of bed occupancy, and we will end mixed-sex wards … And, by properly resourcing ambulance services, we will end the scandal of slowing ambulance-response times.”

British patients forced to wait four hours for emergency care skyrocketed 557 percent from 2010 to 2017, from 6,932 to 45,532. More than 3,000 British patients with cancer were forced to wait longer than two months before their treatment under the NHS, it was found last fall.

Yet Corbyn has learned nothing: “The next Labour government will reverse privatization of our NHS and return our health service into expert public control,” his manifesto pledges. “We will introduce a new legal duty,” it promises, “to ensure that excess private profits are not made out of the NHS at the expense of patient care.”

When government fails, somehow it’s the fault of someone, somewhere making too much profit.

The NHS’s dysfunction is nothing new, of course. Labour’s 1983 anti-Thatcher manifesto, famously mocked as “the longest suicide note in history,” promised: “Labour will come to the rescue of” the NHS, calling Britain’s un-fixable single payer monstrosity “a commonsense example of democratic socialism in action.”

Government Failures Are Capitalism’s Fault

That commonsense democratic socialism in action, according to Labour back then, faced “a double threat from the Tories: a lack of resources for decent health care; and the active encouragement of private practice.” The socialists believed that “expansion in private medicine is a serious threat to our priorities in health care. We will not allow the development of a two-tier health service, where the rich can jump the queue.”

One of democratic socialism’s sacred tenets is: There must be no inequality when it comes to sickness and suffering.

“We shall remove private practice from the NHS,” the manifesto continues, “and take into the NHS those parts of the profit-making private sector which can be put to good use.”

As in their opposition to private education to save poor kids from disastrous under-performing public schools held captive by the political power of teachers’ unions, the left’s excuse for the failure of government-run healthcare is always “we didn’t have enough money!” — despite the countless billions of dollars spent — along with too much competition from the private sector.

Sanders, AOC, and even Biden will impose such big government policies on as much of American life as they can, whether it bears the socialist label or not. The failures of collectivism, no matter what it’s called, are available far and wide to see and describe, and Trump is sure to spend a good deal of next year’s campaign doing so.

Biden as nominee can embrace the causes of those failures, try to explain the failures away, or somehow disassociate himself from the failures. Either way, a President who has condemned socialism as unapologetically as Donald Trump has looks to be in an unusually enviable position in November, 2020.

Thomas McArdle

Tom McArdle @MacArdghail, longtime Senior Writer for Investor's Business Daily, was a White House Speechwriter for President George W. Bush, National Political Reporter for Washington political columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, Managing Editor of Human Events, and has worked as a writer for CNN and the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. His work has appeared in National Review, the American Spectator, The Hill, the Washington Examiner, Newsmax, and the National Catholic Register. He has appeared on Fox News and numerous talk radio programs. He is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, M. Stanton Evans' National Journalism Center in Washington, Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, and at 17 was one of Curtis Sliwa's original "Magnificent 13" Guardian Angels.

8 comments

  • No one in either party comes close to being a viable replacement for Donald Trump. The real threat to his second term is the Mainstream Media, including social media like Facebook and Twitter. The Socialists/Communists very astutely took over online media early on and it’s the Fake News and propaganda lies that are the real enemy of democracy.
    Biden and Sanders both would be marching to the orders of others if elected, and our nation would be stripped of it’s wealth quickly this time. The slow progress of national depletion under Obama was a mistake that would not be repeated.

  • The word and practice called “socialism” is the death knell for all of our freedoms as Americans. People like Sanders are millionaires who will not suffer the evils of “socialism” like the rest of us will. Go ahead and vote for this pos but remember that you get what you are asking for and sadly, you don’t realize what that is until it is way too late. Give me freedom.

  • Joe is a political whore. By that I mean he is or the mindset so say or do anything to achieve his goal and that is regardless of his feelings of self worth or character. Several years ago he condemned the open borders and sanctuary city’s. It is easy to find it was when he ran for president the last time. He will do the same this time on all issues necessary to get elected. He has cleared the field from his last attempts and it would take a mentally challenged jack ass to not beat the socialists currently running for the dems. all they are concerned with is taking money from any rich white guy or corporation and showing how compassionate they are in getting it to poor minorities, without a single hint of how that will change a thing. Dems always think money is the key to everything instead of hard work and taking chances. The later is condemned. Look how many times they have attacked the president over failed business ventures instead of looking at the attempts made to get a new business going. Quite sad actually.

  • In America, if someone wants to go to college, they can. If they are poor, there is work study. I did it, my parents could never afford it. People just need to get off of their butts and do what is necessary to find a way. The left wants to take everyone’s paycheck down to zero, by taxing the hell out of them.

  • Your arguments against socialism are useless on millennials. I know. My son is one. He works 60 to 80 hours a week for a wage that doesn’t provide much above bare minimum. College was always out of reach, unless he wanted to be like his friends and be 50 grand in debt with no collateral. His health insurance covers nothing. So doctors and dental care are luxuries. He has no hope of advancement, higher wages or any rewards at any job he could get, ever. Corporate executives don’t advance up the ranks. Small business remains DOA due to too many lawyers and lawsuits. Very discouraging. At least in a socialist government, he and his fellow millennials would have a seat at the table when the goodies were being handed out by government. Millennials have never had disposable income. Income is freedom. They have never experienced freedom and don’t believe in it.

    • The only medicine for millenials is reading things that explain economics — Hayek, George Gilder, Henry Hazlitt, Von Mises, maybe Bob Bartley’s Seven Fat Years. The key fact that must be explained is that there is no finite pie of wealth; wealth is generated by man’s ingenuity when men are economically free to do so, and it can be, for all practical purposes, limitless. (Seriously — understanding free-market economics can change someone’s life.)

  • Does any of it even matter, anymore? IF the Left can foist a Democrat upon the nation, it won’t matter one iota which Democrat they foist. They’ll ALL rule by fiat (as each of them has overtly promised), and they’ll DESTROY the Constitution (they MUST if they wish to maintain perpetual power). And we’ll be living in a country that makes Oceania seem like Disney World.

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