Will Bernie’s democratic socialism be the end of America as we know it?
Here’s a little thought experiment to ponder. Ask yourself the following…who is the more dangerous person?
The one who holds a gun to your head and demands you give up your money and your life?
Or, the one who convinces the masses that your money and your life really don’t belong to you, but rather to the collective?
Any student of history knows that while there have always been common thugs intent on violating individual rights for their own gain, the much more destructive scoundrel is the one who justifies that crime under the guise of moral responsibility and societal need.
A moral appeal to sacrifice for the good of the “collective” is the playbook of all of history’s socialist tyrants, and the avuncular Vermont Senator and Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is no exception.
Now before you recoil in anger at this comparison, I am not equating Bernie Sanders with history’s worst criminals—at least not in deed.
What I am equating is the philosophic root of Sanders’ so-called democratic socialism with more pernicious forms of tyranny, all of which can be grown from the same root that’s flowered the bloodiest regimes in history.
To me, Bernie Sanders represents an eerily threatening form of collectivism, one that’s made palatable by his disarmingly disheveled exterior and likable demeanor.
He’s like an aged version of the wolf in sheep’s clothing, one who comes on persuasively, and with the seemingly gentle appeal of simply wanting to make the country a “fairer” place to live.
The only problem with Sanders’ version of an economic fairness doctrine is that it wants to chop down anyone who has managed to achieve more in life than his fellow Americans.
This chopping down of success would come, according to Sanders’ own tax plan, via a tax increase on all Americans; however, there would be a special emphasis on higher marginal tax rates for the well off.
According to an analysis of Sanders’ plan by the Tax Foundation, anyone making more than $100,000 a year will really be punished, as at that level ordinary income is taxed at over 30% while dividends and capital gains would be taxed at over 17%.
Sanders also wants to impose new payroll taxes to pay for more government programs, and he wants to increase the top marginal income tax rate to 54.2%. He’d also replace the alternative minimum tax with a new limit on itemized deductions while also expanding the truly pernicious double taxation that is the estate tax.
Though it’s easy to see that from an economic point of view this kind of regressive tax code would harm everyone, from a philosophic point of view I easily understand the appeal of Bernie Sanders and his democratic socialism rhetoric.
The reason why is because he doesn’t just argue from a practical standpoint, or an economic standpoint. Rather, Bernie makes his case for democratic socialism on a moral, i.e. philosophical, basis.
Take for example the Senator’s explanation of his position during the first Democratic debate in December.
When attempting to explain what democratic socialism is, Sanders said:
“What democratic socialism is about is saying that it is immoral and wrong that the top one-tenth of 1 percent in this country own almost 90 percent — almost — own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today, in a rigged economy, that 57 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent.”
The stress on the terms “immoral” and “wrong” aren’t your normal political verbiage.
These are moral terms, and I am convinced this is why the unlikely candidacy of Bernie Sanders has so much widespread appeal, especially with the generally more philosophically idealistic youth vote.
It is this philosophic appeal, though abhorrent in its fully formed Orwellian socialist utopia version, that is the cause of Sanders’ appeal.
Now, some might read this and think that I am being unfair to Bernie. After all, doesn’t he just want fairness for the working man?
Well, my reply is in the form of essentials, and the essential element of socialism is that it wants to collectivize private property.
It allows the state and its monopoly on physical force (law enforcement, IRS, courts) to take your private property and redistribute that property in the name of the group.
The embrace of this philosophy, despite its genial spokesman, is much more morally repugnant than the deeds of a common criminal… and its widespread appeal is a much greater danger to the republic than any thug with a gun.
Jim Woods is the editor of the Next Week’s Winners advisory service. A self-described “radical for capitalism,” he celebrates the virtue of making money from his Southern California horse ranch.