Bernie Sanders, Socialism, and the GOP

Ed Hudgins's picture
Submitted by Ed Hudgins on Tue, 2015-07-21 13:07

Bernie Sanders, Socialism, and the GOP
By Edward Hudgins

July 17, 2015 -- It’s more than ironic that as socialist economies, led by Greece, collapse, Democrats in America are infatuated by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the presidential candidate who caucuses with the Democrats but is an avowed socialist. The starry eyes for this supreme statist reflect an ignorance about our own collapsing regime to say nothing of moral failings that Republicans—and everyone else—should take seriously.

The anti-Hillary

Let’s start with the positive reason that Sanders is attracting large, enthusiastic crowds while would-be president Hillary Clinton has trouble filling venues. Sanders does not hide his socialist convictions. Hillary has backed many of the same policies. But she hems and haws about her basic principles, posing as a pragmatic progressive simply looking out for the middle class. Her campaign is managed and faked, from supposed “random” meetings with ordinary voters to her rare press interviews given only to sycophant pseudo-journalists. She is disingenuous, whether about Benghazi, erased emails, or Pacific trade. She just hopes voters will not care.

Attraction of authenticity

To understand Sanders’ appeal, consider that young voters in 2008 were enthusiastic about Barack Obama, seeing him as an idealist who would transcend politics as usual. While they still voted for him in 2012, they were disillusioned at his failures, many seeing him as just another politician.

Young people were the most enthusiastic supporters of libertarian Republican Rep. Ron Paul during the 2012 Republican presidential primary. Paul was an idealist and straight talker who didn’t spin his beliefs for the crowd de jour. And while Donald Trump doesn’t offer anything like a set of principles found in Paul or Sanders, part of his popularity is that he says what he thinks.

Young people are far more cynical about politics and the world than their elders, but they clearly thirst for authenticity and ideals, which is what Sanders seems to offer.

Socialism polls

But there is more to Sander’s popularity than a bad taste for Hillary.

A Pew survey found that 50% of Americans had a positive reaction to the word “capitalism” while 40% reacted negatively. But only 46% of young people under 29 years old had warm and fuzzys for the word while 47% found it cold and hard.

By contrast, 60% of the population responded negatively to the word “socialism” and only 31% positively. But that word only harshed the buzz of 43% of young people, while a full 49% got good vibrations. Worse, the word “progressive,” a preferred label for many who promote socialist policies, garnered a 67% positive response. Ouch!

Voters don’t simply pull the lever for labels. Indeed, the growth of independent voters, which includes 50% of those under 29, shows that both “Democrat” and “Republican” mean less and less. So what else is behind this benign view of socialism?

Democratic to dictatorial

Fundamentally, the current political battles reflect conflicting visions: government as protector of our individual liberty, leaving us free to live our lives as we will; or government as the benevolent parent that helps us helpless people directly.

Many Sanders supporters rightly see Hillary as the Queen of Corruption. She and her foundation with ex-prez hubby Bill suck in cash from big bailed-out bankers, politically-connected companies, and foreign governments, while denouncing Wall Street and posing as the enemies of privilege. Most of Sanders’ support comes from donations of $250 or less. Sanders’ socialism, which purports to put “the people” in charge, seems to many the alternative.

But Sanders’ supporters fail to understand that the crony corruption they loathe is a manifestation of our current system in which government helps people directly.

For the democratic form of socialism, political power is the coin of the realm. As government redistributes wealth, the punished producers either produce less wealth or play the political game, seeking special favors and handouts. The only way socialism can overcome the resulting war of all against all is to become anti-democratic and dictatorial. A strongman promises to “transcend politics,” to use his pen and his phone to govern arbitrarily without regard to law.

Bernie Sanders or Barack Obama become Il Duce.

The only alternative to cronyism and Big Brother: a system in which individuals live their own lives and pursue their own dreams, producing goods and services to trade with their fellows based on mutual consent, with government confined to protecting rights.

Will Republicans be able to overcome their own complicity in cronyism—and sometimes in Big Brother—and articulate this ideal? If they can’t or won’t, Sanders might lose but the only open question will be which future dystopia Americans will suffer in.
Hudgins is a senior scholar at The Atlas Society.


*Edward Hudgins, “After the Elections: The GOP Civil War.” November 13, 2014.
*Edward Hudgins, editor, The Republican Party Civil War: Will Freedom Win? 2014.
*Edward Hudgins, “Obama's Grab-Bag Socialism.” April 4, 2009.

The 2016 election could be really good

mvardoulis's picture

In an attempt to duplicate 1992 (Ross Perot handing the presidency to Clinton), I can see Donald Trump running as a Third Party of his own creation, Bernie Sanders running as a Green (or similar quasi-far-left mutation party), and things shaping up to be more like 1980 than 1992, when the Libertarian Party had its best showing. Though naturally, I'd hope for a fifth candidate who actually represented Individual Liberty to rise up in 2016 as well, I'd like to think the abysmal 2-party "system" take a sound beating in 2016. I'd love to see five candidates end up with enough attention to garner some votes, even from the electoral college.


Lindsay Perigo's picture

It is inconceivable and incomprehensible to me that Hillary has survived this long. It is yet another sign that America is finished that such a blatantly vicious, corrupt, treasonous and dishonest person can still be pursuing the highest office with impunity ... with the active connivance of the watchdogs, media and political, that, had this been Richard Nixon, would have chewed him up and spat him out before you could say "YouTube video." I know I shouldn't be shocked ... Obamarx is still in the White House, and this is Airhead America, after all: the America in which bystanders, instead of going to the help of a cop who has just been pistol-whipped bloody and unconscious by trash, take cellphone pics of him lying on the pavement and post them on Twit-Witter and Faecesbook; the America in which yet another Goblian couple is now being forced to bake a gay cake and "re-educate" its staff in the ways of the Pink Swastika. The sooner that America is deservedly wiped out by the Islamo-bombs it has enabled the better.

I quite like old Bernie. The only difference between his being a socialist and Hillary's and Obamarx's being a socialist is that Bernie admits it, proudly! He is KASS. Those professing anti-socialism should take a leaf out of his book! And let's face it, he's certainly livened things up on the Dem-side.

Bernie knocking out Hillary?

Ed Hudgins's picture

I was betting that Hillary will at best get the nomination after a bloody primary battle. But now I think it possible that she won't get it, that Sanders will help knock her out and that some third candidate--Biden, O'Malley--will get it.

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