Prior to May 26, 2015, when Bernie Sanders threw his hat in the ring for the United States presidency, I knew very little about the 74-year-old politician other than he was a United States senator from somewhere in the Northeast. I am not even sure I could have told you he was from Vermont.
However, nine months later Sanders is drawing huge crowds to his rallies and attracting incredible media attention. The Washington Post stated he had “eye-popping crowds” in Iowa and that “crowd size tends to be an indicator of organic energy and passion.” And he came within a gnat’s freckle of beating Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucus (Clinton – 49.9% vs. Sanders – 49.6%). In fact, Clinton won six back-to-back coin tosses against Sanders at a half-dozen precincts where voting results were too close to call.
College students and young adults are flocking to his rallies like Sanders is some kind of rock star. In the most recent New Hampshire polls he is leading Clinton by as many as 30 percentage points. The response to his campaign has been phenomenal and he is running against perhaps the most visible, well-known, high profile woman in the world.
Bernie Sanders calls himself a “democratic socialist,” which means he wants the United States to adopt policies similar to those of Scandinavian countries in which the government provides more resources for parents and the economically insecure. In addition to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and universal health care Sanders is an advocate for paid sick leave, universal child-care, a $15 minimum wage, and more generous college-tuition grants.
It all sounds so benevolent, gracious, and fair. But in reality socialism is destructive and diabolical and very much like the communism that for decades was considered a terrible threat to world security and tranquility. Let me list five reasons why we should beware of socialism.
Socialism destroys capitalism. The United States already has some distinctive marks of a socialist nation, because our government seeks to provide for our retirement through Social Security, our health care through Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, the education of our children through public education, and the list goes on and on.
However, the government has proven to be an absolute failure at operating any kind of business. Private capitalism as a rule conserves capital and resources, brings down prices, and employs people while a socialistic form of government as a rule wastes capital and resources, drives up prices, and causes unemployment.
For further evidence take note that the Social Security Administration is virtually bankrupt. Contrast the success of the United Parcel Service verses the failure of the United States Postal Service. Also measure the financial success of non-subsidized, private-sector airlines that move millions of passengers around America every day as opposed to Amtrak, which receives $1.4 billion in annual subsidies and provides terrible service.
Socialism violates private property. It basically calls for a redistribution of wealth by taking from the rich to give to the poor. It imposes taxes that punish those who have a greater work ethic and have been more productive and successful. It uses taxation to promote economic and social egalitarianism, a goal that will be fully achieved, according to the Communist Manifesto, with the “abolition of private property.”
According to Mark J. Perry in his work, Why Socialism Failed, “Socialism is the Big Lie of the (twenty-first) century. While it promised prosperity, equality, and security, it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny. Equality was achieved only in the sense that everyone was equal in his or her misery.”
Socialism destroys human nature and human initiative. It militates against personal creativity and ingenuity and replaces it with state-control.
John L. Bowman in his book, Socialism in America, explains: “Socialists also arrogantly usurp the right to be judge and jury for society. They presumptuously arrogate the right to determine how much the individual shall earn, how wealthy they may become, and how much success they may enjoy They arrogantly usurp the role of deciding for the individual their potential. They assume the role of dictator in order to dictate to others what they may or may not have. They voraciously and rapaciously grab for themselves what is ultimately the individual’s natural right to choice. Socialism is an arrogant philosophy.
“On a deeper level, socialism is a philosophy that violates the human spirit. It makes people automatons and slaves. It destroys the human psyche. It attenuates individual will and destroys personal freedom. It eliminates a citizen’s right to be independent and reliant and strips humans of their dignity. It destroys initiative and the joy of achievement. In the end, it destroys the human spirit.”
Socialism promotes a radical equality. A supposed absolute equality among men is the fundamental assumption of socialism. Therefore, it sees any inequality as unjust in itself. Private employers are quickly portrayed as “exploiters” whose profits really belong to their employees.
Pastors who champion the exclusivity of the Gospel, the sanctity of life, and the virtues of traditional marriage could be accused of failing to promote equality and called upon to remove from their sermons any “perceived” discrimination in the area of religion or belief, in the area of women’s rights, and in the areas of gender and sexual orientation; and they could be accused of bigotry, hate speech, bullying, harassment, etc.
Socialism prohibits free speech. John Dawkins, in his commentary on socialism in Townhall.com, writes, “Why is there ridiculous government propaganda in nations like North Korea? Why are most schools, papers, and colleges run by liberals in the United States? Why do liberals often try to disrupt conservative speakers on college campuses? Why are there such extreme speech codes in Canada that it practically makes some conservative arguments illegal? Why does speaking out against the government risk imprisonment in China and the old Soviet Union?
“It is because socialism requires protection, propaganda, intimidation, and darkness to survive. Socialism can’t survive honest, informed debate about its merits among people who are free to choose or reject it because it would not survive the conversation. As Reagan said, “How do you tell a communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.”
Socialism mocks religion and promotes atheism. According to Karl Marx, religion is “the opium of the people.” Lenin, founder of the Union Soviet Socialist Republics, agreed, “Religion is opium of the people. Religion is a sort of spiritual booze in which the slaves of capital drown their human image, their demand for a life more or less worthy of man.”
To a socialist, belief in God – who unlike us is infinite, omnipotent, and omniscient – clashes head-on with the principle of absolute equality. Socialism therefore rejects the spiritual, claiming that only matter exists. God, the soul, and the next life are illusions according to Socialism.
Incidentally, Bernie Sanders, according to Religion News Service, was born to Jewish parents and identifies himself as culturally Jewish, but he has freely acknowledged that he is not a religious man. In a recent interview he stated, “I am not actively involved with organized religion.”
Bernie Sanders may not be in every respect the kind of socialist described above, but he is a self-proclaimed “Democratic Socialist.”
But the idea of another step toward socialism should cast great fear in the hearts of the American people. Could it be that a Democratic Socialist will be on the ticket for president this year? Probably not, but I greatly fear that the possibility is not that far away.