Despite being probably robbed of the Democratic Party’s nomination by the Clinton political machine, the success of the Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign with his advocacy of “democratic socialism” was an ominous sign of things to come and, in some sense, more telling of the political climate than Donald Trump’s improbable victory in November, 2016. The millions of votes garnered by Sanders in the Democratic primaries has emboldened other socialists to seek political office while socialist ideas are openly spoken of with little fear of political recriminations.
Sanders has doubled down on his advocacy of democratic socialism in a recent speech at George Washington University, calling for the completion of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s:
Today I am proposing we complete
the unfinished work of Franklin Roosevelt
and the Democratic Party by putting
forth a 21st century economic bill of rights.*
Even supposedly “moderate” Democrats are trying to tout their “progressive” credentials, such as creepy Joe Biden who recently said:
I’m told I get criticized by the
New Left. I have the most
progressive record of anybody
running for . . . anybody who would run.**
While Sanders’ chance of becoming the Democratic nominee in 2020 is still uncertain, President Trump has already indicated what is going to be a centerpiece of his election strategy: oppose socialism. The first hint of the strategy came at this year’s State of the Union address when the President declared:
America will never by a socialist country.***
While President Trump will espouse his supposed accomplishments (tax cuts, deregulation, trade) as a contrast to democratic socialism, his emphasis will also deflect attention away from his most solemn campaign pledge which has not been achieved – a border wall and a crack down and deportation of illegal immigrants.
Whether this is a winning formula remains to be seen. If the Democrats are led by Bernie Sanders in 2020, they will probably lose, unless the economy falls off a cliff (very possible) or the Donald follows the suicidal advice of the war- mongering team of Messrs Bolton and Pompeo and start a war with Iran.
While the Trump campaign narrative for 2020 may convince the masses who may still not be ready to vote for outright socialism, the country, like most of the Western world, has long ago imbibed and adopted many of the philosophy’s tenets.
Frank Chodorov, one of the most perceptive and courageous writers of what was affectionately known as the “Old Right,” pointed out over a half century ago that America had enacted many of the ideas which were enumerated in Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto. Chodorov constantly chided the Cold War warriors of his time, such as William Buckley, that communism had come to America without one shot being fired by the Soviets.
In one of his most penetrating essays, “How Communism Came to America,”* Chodorov incisively pointed out the “long-term objectives of communism:”
Among them are government ownership of land, a heavy progressive income tax,
abolition of inheritance rights, a national bank, government ownership or control of
communication and transportation facilities, state-owned factories, a government
program for soil conservation, government schools, free education.
He trenchantly asked: “How many of these planks of the Communist Manifesto do you support? Federal Reserve Bank? Interstate Commerce Commission? Federal Communications Commission? Tennessee Valley Authority? The Sixteenth (income tax) Amendment? The inheritance tax? Government schools with compulsory attendance and support?”
Further in his piece, Chodorov describes how the American economy, even at the time, had taken on many features of state capitalism: deficit financing, insurance of bank deposits, guaranteed mortgages, control of bank credits, regulation of installment buying, price controls, farm price supports, agricultural credits, RFC loans to business, social security, government housing, public works, tariffs, foreign loans.
He again asked: “How many of these measures . . . do you oppose?”
The next financial downturn, which is starring America in the face, will be far more devastating than the last since nothing has been resolved financially while the cause of the Great Recession – the Federal Reserve – continues to operate with impunity. As things continue to deteriorate, there will be even greater calls and support for more socialism. The free market will be blamed.
Despite the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and the present day economic basket cases of North Korea and Cuba, socialism continues to be espoused throughout the West. Despite its historic and current failures, socialism survives because it was never debunked philosophically within Western academia. The main reason for this is that the intelligentsia derives much of their influence, power, and position from a socialistic society.
Until the ideology of socialism is shown to be the morally corrupt, economic destructive, and de-civilizing social system that it has always been, the likes of Bernie Sanders will continue to be a nuisance and quite possibly the new rulers of America.
*Stephen Dinan, “Sanders Proclaims Democratic Socialism as Answer for America.” The Washington Times. 13 June 2019, A1.
**David Krayden, “Biden Says He’s The ‘Most Progressive’ Democrat as He Almost Announces His 2020 Candidacy,” The Daily Caller, 17 March 2019.
***Dinan, “Sanders Proclaims Democratic Socialism as Answer for America.”
****Charles Hamilton, ed. Fugitive Essays: Selected Writings of Franck Chodorov. Carmel, IN.: Liberty Fund, 1980, pp. 186-89.