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.