This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published September 13, 2015 by The Washington Times.
According to the experts, much of the Millennial generation is besotted with the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. Note: Millennials are the largest voting bloc by age.
Born between 1981 and 2000, and mostly in their late teens to early 30s, many Millennials are showing up at rallies of the self-proclaimed “Democratic Socialist” U.S. senator from Vermont and cheering his diatribes against “the billionaire class.”
Like the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers before them, many Millennials are highly educated. You’d think they’d be wary of anyone sporting a socialist brand. With the glaring exception of Bernie Sanders, modern-day progressives go out of their way to avoid the label.
National Socialist Germany, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, the prison camp nation of North Korea and other socialist experiments in mass murder should have been enough to sully the name of socialism forever.
Yet, as the late Joseph Sobran said, “It makes no difference that socialism’s actual record is terribly bloody; socialism is forever judged by its promises and supposed possibilities, while capitalism is judged by its worst cases.”
You don’t even have to go to the worst of the worst to see the point. Look at how the socialism of Juan Peron ruined resource-rich Argentina’s economy or how Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro have impoverished once-rising Venezuela — while crushing dissent.
Noteworthy exceptions are the small, homogenous Scandinavian countries, which embrace socialistic tenets while allowing capitalist companies to keep them prosperous — for now. Unfortunately for the world’s millions of victims of socialism, these exceptions do not disprove the rule that collectivism leads to rule by the few with poverty for the “masses.”
“Socialism is the pure expression of Alienism,” Mr. Sobran observed in National Review. “It rejects in principle the entire current and traditional form of society and insists on total transformation.” He wrote this in 1985, 23 years before Barack Obama’s boast on Oct. 31, 2008 of being “five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
Mr. Sobran continued: “In order to accomplish this, [socialism] must replace consent with unlimited state power. There are those who espouse ‘democratic’ socialism, but they are either fools or time-servers.”
So, back to our young voters. Why are so many of them hooked on Bernie?
According to USA Today college contributor Thomas Dowling, citing research by the Panetta Institute of Public Policy and the Pew Research Center, “Millennials will be looking at four major policy areas come 2016: independence from the Washington establishment, support for climate change mitigation policies, job creation and student debt reform. The candidate siding on the right side of all of these issues will very likely win the Millennial vote. That candidate appears to be Bernie Sanders.”
Indeed, the Vermont senator is singing the ages-old tune of getting something for nothing: free public university education and forgiveness of student loans. More government jobs. How to pay for all this? New taxes on financial transactions — as if that won’t further shackle our shaky economy. Did I mention socialized medicine? Plus, like all progressives, he’s for each and every new assault on sexual morality.
The greatest disconnect is Mr. Sanders‘ supposed disdain for Washington insiders. But he wants Washington to grow astronomically bigger. The sky’s the limit. Can’t the young voters see through this “anti-establishment” facade?
Well, no, not if they’ve been systematically miseducated in America’s union-run schools and liberal universities. Instead of being taught about America’s unique achievements, students are told America is evil and fatally flawed, and that socialism by contrast is warm, fuzzy and compassionate. It’s why some of them run around in T-shirts bearing the image of Fidel Castro’s murderous triggerman, Che Guevara.
Millennials, more than any other generation, have also been given a false axis of political world views, with communists at one end and the Nazis at the other end, misidentified as “right wing.” A true ideological axis begins with no government (anarchy) at one end, and the communists, Nazis, Fascists and other socialists on the other extreme, with the American republic’s system of checks and balances and free markets somewhere in between.
Finally, there’s the popular culture. In Hollywood movies, socialism is never associated with the Nazis. Meanwhile, communists are very rarely the villains, despite hot wars in Korea and Vietnam, and decades of the Cold War. “No enemies to the left” is the prevailing Hollywood mindset, matching the ideology of most journalists, who routinely label anything they don’t like as “conservative.” This includes everyone from Iran’s ayatollahs to Russian crypto-communist “hard-liners.”
With all this disinformation, maybe it’s no wonder that so many people, particularly the young, have bought into socialism’s false, Santa Claus persona.
Socialism begins with a profound misreading of human nature — that we are naturally “good” and just need ever more government to help us evolve toward perfection on earth. It ends with coercion, and lots of it.