It’s a cruel irony: Just as U.S. economic metrics hit new peaks, along comes a guy who says he wants to transform the nation. Even crueler, crowds of naive followers hope he succeeds. Bernard Sanders and his “Bernie bros” are just what Americans don’t need.
The purpose of life is a topic for theologians, but most would agree that a productive life is a meaningful life. Americans are recovering their characteristic ambition-driven action, with a 63.4 percent labor force participation rate, the highest in seven years.
Productivity means prosperity: Between the Great Recession and 2019, says the Federal Reserve, the top 1 percent doubled their wealth — a fact that would probably cause socialist Bernie to do a slow burn. But guess what? The bottom 50 percent also doubled their wealth. With the U.S. stock market hitting new highs practically every other day, and wage growth for low- and middle-income workers climbing faster than their bosses, median household income in 2019 reached $63,030 it’s highest ever.
That’s what the Vermont senator, now the leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, intends to kick to the curb as he puts his radical pedal to the metal. “The one percent may be powerful, but there are a lot more people in the 99 percent,” said Mr. Sanders on the eve of his New Hampshire Democratic primary victory. “Let’s go forward, let’s win this thing, and let’s transform America.”
Where have we heard that before? Oh, yes— Barack Obama. The two-term president did quite a number on the feel of living in the U.S.A., particularly in rubbing raw the never-quite-healed scab of racial animosity, and identity politics writ large. With President Obamaencouraging the explosion of the Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter movements, Americans learned to guard their words and watch their backs.
Coming off his double-barreled success in Iowa and the Granite State, Bernie is about to teach folks new lessons: The importance of keeping an eye on their liberty and their wallets. That’s the consequence of socialism, an unworkable and un-American system of government that, even when modified with “democratic,” still leaves a trail of broken promises.
Mr. Sanders’ promise of free health care, free college and student debt forgiveness seems like a winning lottery ticket for those planning to check the box reading “Sanders” on the November ballot. The tradeoff would be higher taxes, much higher. He has said tax liability for his basket of freebies would reach down to include families making as little as $29,000 annually. Some freebie.
Other proposals, such as the Green New Deal that his surrogate, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, likes to hype, would cost tens of trillions more than the nation’s entire annual budget. Freed from certain types of debt, Bernie’s backers would find, too late, the bill has turned up again in a form of crushing taxes.
Rather than communism’s government takeover of the means of production, a President Sanders would simply institute federal control the economy, a textbook tenet of socialism. He would accomplish it through strict regulation, forcing U.S. business to function in accordance with Washington’s orders. Adding heavy taxes would enable the state to collect and redistribute the nation’s wealth to suit its political aims. Say hello to the man pulling the strings from above, Bernie the puppet master.
Americans who have been around the block more than once have seen the likes of Mr. Sanders before: The prototypical dyed-in-the-wool red. His 1988 honeymoon in Moscow dispels any doubt. The young and naive, in contrast, have no such immunity to the socialist spell. Those born after the fall of the Iron Curtain may have read something about the hardships of life under behind it, but millions of deaths from starvation and execution? For those who find history a yawner, that seems less real than “The Hunger Games.”
What was once old is new again, though, in Venezuela. Emerging from the United Socialist Party to become president, Nicolas Maduro has trashed the nation’s constitution, seized control of food and fuel distribution, and sent millions scurrying for their lives to neighboring countries. Ominously, Mr. Sanders stands alone among Democratic presidential contenders in refusing to recognize interim president Juan Guaido.
By all appearances, Bernie’s love for socialism is stronger than his abhorrence of tyranny. It’s all the more reason to send him and his “bros” back to Vermont where they can feel at right home amid the environs of the state flower, red clover.
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