The 2020 presidential election is likely the most consequential contest since 1932. The New Deal fundamentally shifted power from the states, businesses and private citizens to an arrogant federal bureaucracy.

The mainstream media — embracing an Adam Schiffian approach to facts — reported the Democratic primaries are a seminal contest between moderates Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden, who would reform free markets and socialists like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who would rip out capitalism and burn its roots by nationalizing whole industries and breaking up big tech.

That is an even more insidious lie than the notion that Donald Trump is an illegitimate president, who should be removed even it means throwing out the U.S. Constitution. It is terribly disturbing that the preponderance of a profession that depends on free speech for its survival champions the idea that elections should be rigged to ensure “progressives” win.

In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel argues the problem with Sen. Sanders is not his goals but how quickly he wants to accomplish them.

Apparently, reformists can succeed in destroying free markets and our constitutional rights if they don’t nominate someone so transparently radical that he frightens moderate voters. Instead, gradually hypnotize the electorate with false promises and manufactured crises and incrementally compel it to embrace socialism rechristened as progressivism.

The Affordable Care Act was supposed to make health care less expensive when in fact it hasn’t. The monopolization of markets for hospital services, prescription drugs and physicians and heavy government subsidies are rapidly making the system too unaffordable to sustain. Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants absolute price controls, but Mr. Sanders wants to nationalize in Castro-like fashion health insurers and give us doctors’ offices as moribund and swift as the U.S. Postal Service.

With the Green New Deal, Democrats would shut down oil companies and nationalize electric utilities and in Chinese fashion, state-manage the entire automobile and transportation sectors. And likely require the vetting of corporate and education officials by an informal consensus for politically correct thinking.

To get any traction in the Democratic Party these days, politicians must adhere to four tenets. Capitalism and free markets, not failed government regulation and spending, are responsible for all slow growth and inequality. America was founded and remains controlled by a cynical monopoly of exploitive white males. The climate change crisis is a convenient vehicle to accomplish the revolution.

Pundits, professors, politicians and corporate executives who do not adhere to every dot of this theocracy are populists — code for racist, sexist, anti-Semitic and generally invidious — and should be blacklisted, banished and if suitably dangerous, incarcerated.

The cancel culture at media outlets like NPR and universities are invidious examples of this new, soft fascism.

Unfortunately, centrists of neither party — in Europe — have not governed well. Despite breathtaking technological change, economic growth has been halting and families feel stressed as the cost of health care, university education and resulting student debt service and housing have risen much more rapidly than incomes.

That’s what makes Sens. Sanders and Warren possible. Despite the lousy job public education and universities do these days, Americans apparently remember that socialism was a flop in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. But now they could be persuaded by Democrats that a little bit more government — like another shot of heroin — will solve kitchen table budget problems when President Obama proved that doesn’t.

They all have plans to dramatically raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for free health care, universal basic incomes and college and to forgive student loans — but as conditions in Europe prove, it’s the middle class that will pay.

It’s narcissistic for billionaire Bloomberg to believe he can ride the Donkey Party Express to the Oval Office — or maybe just cynical because with enough money he can so monopolize the airways and pay enough Twitter trolls to win.

The controversies Mr. Trump’s ruminations create to keep his blue-collar base energized distracts the middle class from an essential reality — things may not be great, but they are getting better than during the Obama years.

Real household income now surpasses pre-recession levels, women and minorities have more opportunities and he is not trying to pack the U.S. Supreme Court and villainize the founding minority, white males, like demagogues and fascists are prone. Or throw out the results of legitimate elections as Mr. Schiff and his fellow Democrats would be happy to do.

• Peter Morici is an economist and business professor at the University of Maryland, and a national columnist.

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