Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a host of others in the new Democratic Party have threatened to transform the U.S. into a socialist country. In his State of the Union speech, the president affirmed that these “Democratic Socialists” will never succeed. Sorry Donald. They have already succeeded. We are a socialist country and have been for many years.
Progressive Democrats from the time of Woodrow Wilson have been moving us gradually closer to socialism. Thanks to FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society, the federal government has grown into a rapacious monster. This process of expansion reached its zenith during the Obama presidency. Obama told us up front that he wanted to “fundamentally transform America.” Most Americans still don’t realize what he meant. With his disdain for private property (other people’s, not his), Obama sought the redistribution of income and a transition from capitalism to socialism.
In order to appreciate how America has embraced socialism, we should understand what socialism is and how to recognize it. According to the dictionary, socialism is where the government owns the means of production at the expense of private enterprise. “If I could put the economics of Bernie Sanders into a nutshell, it would be this,” says economics professor William L. Anderson. “Burden private enterprise with one directive after another, and then demonize it when it ultimately falls down under the awful weight of taxes, higher costs, and mandates.” The feds have their fingers in the auto business, healthcare, and energy. Government has become America’s largest employer, consumer, property owner, contractor, lender, insurer, and pension fund. If you don’t want to work, the government will take care of you as they do in European nanny states.
But socialism is much more than that. Whereas in a democracy the core value is respect for the individual, socialism despises the individual and in every case has been accompanied by totalitarianism. “While democracy seeks equality in liberty,” Alexis de Toqueville wrote in 1848, “socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”
The goal of socialism is equality of outcome. In order to curb income inequality, it has been suggested that we should enforce a maximum income with a marginal tax rate of 100 percent. Every dollar you earn above the allowed maximum income would go straight to the government. If the Left succeeds in its campaign to redistribute income, the productive class will be taxed out of existence and the incentive to achieve will disappear, as it has in Europe. Equality of outcome can never be accomplished without control by a coercive centralized authority. Washington has become exactly that—a coercive centralized authority that has insinuated itself into every aspect of our lives. Its policies are carried out not by our elected representatives, but by the Deep State—an elite class of unelected bureaucrats whose power is virtually unlimited and from whose decision there is no appeal.
The job of a socialist country is to keep the population under control and in fear. “Under socialism, the government is not looking to protect you,” says a good friend who prefers to remain anonymous for fear of retribution by vindictive bureaucrats. “It is not interested in truth and justice,” he says. “It is all about power and control.” Socialism and big government are bedfellows. An inverse relationship exists between size of government and respect for individual rights. Obama interfered with those rights by imposing more than 20,000 regulations that restricted free market competition.
“Politicians of both parties spent the better part of the 20th century disregarding the Constitution,” said professor Ronald J. Pestritto of the Heritage Foundation, “as they looked to have government step up to solve every conceivable human problem.” In 1900, a person could function perfectly well without hardly any interference from the government. Today it is inconceivable.
Have you noticed that every aspect of your life is controlled by the government? There is not one thing you can do without permission from the bureaucrats. Regulations impact every aspect of our daily lives, including the food we eat, the vehicles we drive, the air we breathe, the places where we live and work, the movies and television shows we watch, the way we raise our children, how we brush our teeth, and how we make love. Starting a business has become extremely difficult due to interference from governmental agencies. If you want to upgrade your bathroom or build a fence, you need permission from the water department or zoning board. You can’t go fishing without a license. If you allow your kids to roam the streets as we did in my youth, government bureaucrats may attempt to take them away from you. The government acts as though it knows how you should conduct your life better than you do. Yet left-wing economists such as Paul Krugman argue that what we need is even more regulation.
Three of my closest friends have experienced the iron fist of the socialist bureaucracy. One is a lawyer, another is a surgeon, and the third is a psychologist. Each of them was unjustly targeted by government agencies for allegedly failing to abide by arbitrary regulations that bear no relationship to their professional competencies. Two of them were bankrupted in a futile attempt to defend their independence against unaccountable, power-hungry bureaucrats. Ultimately, one was forced to acquiesce in order to retain his practice and the other two were driven into retirement. The absence of due process usually is identified with third-world dictatorships. It is here in the U.S. right now.
The institutionalization of socialist ideas has been enabled by two factors: control of our universities by leftist faculties that indoctrinate their students with socialist ideas, and the rise of political correctness. PC is a technique used by the Left to shut down any speech that is not in accord with the liberal playbook. PC is destroying your right to free speech. Our current situation was predicted by George Orwell in his novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. It should be required reading but is probably prohibited by leftist school administrators. Orwell agreed with political strategist F.A. Hayek that socialism “inevitably leads to despotism.” They believed that liberty and security are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Big government, which makes a false promise of security, is capable of extinguishing liberty. “Collectivism gives to a tyrannical minority such powers as the Spanish Inquisitors never dreamed of,” wrote Hayek. “Where it becomes dominated by a collectivist creed, democracy will inevitably destroy itself.”
At the moment, the only force with the potential to turn back the socialist tide is Donald J. Trump. Americans don’t seem to be concerned with losing their freedoms, and don’t really give a damn as long as they have their creature comforts. If we continue on the road to socialism, those comforts may disappear. If you don’t believe it, look at Venezuela.
Ed Brodow is a political commentator, negotiation expert, and author of seven books including his latest, Tyranny of the Minority: How the Left is Destroying America.
Ed Brodow is a political commentator, negotiation expert, and author of Tyranny of the Minority: How the Left is Destroying America.