Sen. Bernie Sanders is the Democratic Party’s front-runner, and the fact he’s an open socialist — hidden communist — isn’t just the sad and sorry sign of America’s crumbling. It’s the clanging of the gong, the sounding of the alarms, the wild waving of the flags that this country, this land of the free, is one batch of votes from becoming the land of the lost.

Even if he loses, America is still losing.

The fact is Sanders never should have held public office in the first place. That he did — that he was able to don an independent button and caucus with Democrats all the while, wink, wink, serving as an open democratic socialist, code for socialist, code for communist — shows the propensity of today’s American voters to swallow the lie, if it’s properly enough packaged.

A country run by lies cannot stand.

Yet that’s what socialism is: one big deception.

Venezuela swallowed that lie — and look at it now.

“The socialist Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela led by its late president, Hugo Chavez, appears to have failed,” the American Institute of Economic Research wrote back in 2017. “The Venezuelan economy has collapsed and hyperinflation has destroyed the country’s currency. The economy contracted over 10 percent in 2016, and inflation accelerated to 700 percent. President Nicolas Maduro is continuing the disastrous economic policies of the late President Chavez, however.”

Socialists will say the collapse of that country was due to oil, or corruption, or any number of reasons that don’t point back to the real root, socialism. The lie, once perpetrated, must be protected at all costs.

Why? Because the power hungry at the top of the socialist chain, the only ones to gain from socialism, are frantic to keep their undeserved power and unearned wealth.

It’s the bureaucratic bloat that benefits the elitists, while killing the citizens.

Look at the Soviet Union and its decades of Stalin collectivism and Marxism that wiped out whole populations of peasants — that starved to death millions — and that spread its rotten philosophies to nearby nations.

The promise, in the Russian Revolution of 1917, was a “true democracy” — a new Union of Soviet Socialist Republics with no poverty, shared wealth, and happy, happy, happy all around.

That was a lie.

“Soviet farms were unable to feed the people,” the Heritage Foundation reported. “[P]eople lined up for blocks in Moscow and other cities to buy bread and other necessities.”

Look at what befell India.

Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister after the country achieved independence, was an open socialist. A Bernie Sanders kind of open socialist. Nehru served from 1947 until his death in 1964, during which the Congress adopted his socialist vision and grabbed up control of steel production, mining, natural resources, telecommunications, electrical plants, insurance industries, banking, etc.

The socialists took control by promising a state of equality — that if the people just listened to them, then all of India would have access to fairer credit, fairer employment, fairer housing, fairer wealth.

That was the lie.

“The outcome was predictable,” AdamSmith.org reported. “Thinly spread and poor banking facilities, deposits never properly matching liabilities, efficiencies and profits so low and with huge mandated expenditures which dragged the public banks into deficits. And of course, political interference meant a huge spike in non-performing assets.”

Picture a country without confidence in its banking system.

India didn’t start to come out of its crippled economy until taking a warning from the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and pushing toward more privatization of production. It’s a slow recovery, though, moving from the miseries of socialism into the freedom of capitalism; in 2017, India was still rated by the World Bank as a poor country to do business with — 130th out of 190 nations — mostly because of its bureaucratic challenges.

No wonder President Trump was just welcomed to India with a 14-mile long line of adoring citizens. The country’s starved for capitalistic opportunities.

Everywhere socialism takes root, socialism destroys.

Every time socialism destroys, the socialists blame something other than socialism. They say, “that’s not socialism,” or “socialism wasn’t really tried.” They lie; they deceive.

Sanders is no different.

While mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Sanders defended Fidel Castro for transforming society, educating the children, providing health care for citizens. Now, he runs from that characterization.

“I’m not looking at Cuba,” Sanders said, and continues to say, of his particular brand of socialism. “I’m looking at countries like Denmark and Sweden.”

Another socialist promise, another socialist lie. Denmark and Sweden have actively moved from socialism — because they learned socialism killed their economic growth.

Sanders, in America, simply should not be.

The fact he is running for president is the 12th hour dong on America’s doomsday clock.

Had America been awake on the watch in 1981, we would’ve heard the 11th hour dong when Sanders was elected mayor, masking his far left ideologies once again as an independent — and put a stop then to the ticking time bomb called socialism. The lesson learned is this: A lie is a lie is a lie.

Socialism, no matter what it’s called, no matter how it’s packaged, brings misery, poverty, desperation and death — except for those lucky few at the top.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.

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