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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Dems dive off socialism deep end; Republicans should pull up the ladder

One time I was talking with a liberal acquaintance (whom I respect) when the conversation suddenly turned to socialism. This friend wasn’t particularly political or partisan but he launched into a diatribe about how it’s a “well-known fact” rich people don’t contribute much to churches or charities, only pay a small amount of their yearly income in taxes and generally don’t feel the “pain” the rest of us experience from normal living. Therefore, he reasoned, high earners should be taxed at prohibitive rates to foster equality and make it “fair” for everyone else.

Bernie and Colbert“Well, that’s socialism,” I replied.

I was taken aback as the notion didn’t seem to bother him. I recall this chat took place a decade ago during the lead-up to the 2008 presidential election with Barack Obama promising “Hope and Change,” which conservatives recognized as poorly disguised socialism in its worst form.

Anyone remember “Joe the plumber” -- the Ohio gentleman who confronted Obama at a campaign stop over tax rates? The public uproar after the encounter was considerable, forcing Democrat “socialists” to tuck away their true aims because back then, avoiding the “s-word” was vital to convincing gullible people that redistribution schemes were actually good things.

Antagonism to the idea deteriorated ever since then and “Democratic Socialists” are no longer in the closet over their political leanings. Heck, Bernie Sanders even remarked recently that socialism has moved to the party’s mainstream. Amie Parnes reported last week at The Hill, “Bernie Sanders and democratic socialism increasingly look to be winning over the Democratic Party, raising concerns among some Democrats about whether it could hurt the party in this year’s midterm elections, and the presidential race of 2020.

“The biggest Democratic star of the summer is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who, like Sanders, is a democratic socialist. Prospective Democratic candidates in the 2020 presidential election are flocking to the Sanders ‘Medicare for all’ bill, which would institute a single-payer health-care system across the country.

“And a new Gallup poll this week found that 57 percent of Democrats view socialism favorably, compared to 47 percent who view capitalism positively.”

It was the last statistic that grabbed my attention. 57 percent is a sizeable number; not only is it a majority it’s a big one. Line up a hundred Democrats and well over half think socialism is the cat’s meow. That is likely higher than in most self-described socialist nations – though polls of the populations of those countries might not be accurate. Who would give a truthful answer to the “Do you like socialism?” question when a government goon’s standing behind you with a gun pointed towards your skull?

Here in America we mostly honor freedom of thought and speech, though if over half of the adherents to one of the two major political parties believes in socialism it means the public education system isn’t doing its job of presenting the true nature of the socialist beast or Democrats are just plain bonkers. Maybe it’s both.

Of course socialism sounds nice in theory – everyone works hard and produces to the best of his or her ability independent of the need to earn money or better oneself. In socialist systems the productive class happily submits to the whims of a set of elites who jack up tax rates and the rich willingly and passively agree to transfer their wealth to the poor (and to the growing population of shirkers who receive all the benefits of society regardless of eagerness to work and sacrifice themselves).

It isn’t the social safety net we’re talking about here – everyone agrees some provision should be made to help the poor in time of need (and to supply assistance to the disabled) – but to bestow a permanent handout to able-bodied humans just ain’t the American way. Captain John Smith set the standard back at Jamestown in 1607 – no work, no food. Smith found threats were the best motivator to get lazy “gentlemen” off their butts and into the wild hunting or gathering.

Or making deals with the native inhabitants to trade for corn, but that’s another story. Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris wouldn’t have lasted long in early America. If they’d proposed taking half the food stores and giving them away, they would’ve been cast out of the fort.

Modern day socialism of the Sanders/Ocasio-Cortez variety is frightening to those who’ve worked hard all their lives, saved up for retirement and feel proud to take care of their own needs, such as paying for health insurance. Again, where the disadvantaged truly need a hand, there’s a way to provide it (partly by lowering the cost of health insurance for everyone through market forces and/or health savings accounts). It’s simple: don’t drag everyone down to service the needs of a comparative few. And it goes without saying law abiding patriotic Americans don’t want to foot the bill for illegal aliens mooching from the federal trough.

Democrats don’t feel the same way, apparently, especially the party’s younger devotees. Parnes’ article reported that “Fifty-one percent of those 18 to 29 years old have a positive view of socialism, according to the Gallup poll.”

Leave it to those who’ve never worked a day in their lives – or just started in the workforce – to impose upon everyone else a moralistic judgment about socialism. No wonder Bernie Sanders’ rallies were so packed with screaming Millennials, most of which still probably live off their parents’ incomes and dwell in basements with faded Obama posters on the wall.

What’s wrong with the good old-fashioned notion of working hard, earning an honest living and relying on government only in times of crisis? That isn’t socialism – the goodies are front-loaded in their dreams of sameness. Just key up the Soviet national anthem, salute a poster of Vladimir Lenin and prepare yourself to travel back in time a hundred years!

In 2018 Republicans are even trying to increase work requirements for food stamps. Why go in the other direction now? Susan Ferrechio reported in the Washington Examiner, “Senate Republicans are battling over whether a bill reauthorizing the nation’s food stamp program should boost work requirements for recipients.

“The Senate-passed farm bill reauthorizes agriculture and nutrition assistance programs for five years. But the legislation does not include House-passed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps, that would broaden work requirements and make it more difficult for states to waive them.

“Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, on Thursday called on negotiators working on a House-Senate compromise to include the work requirements in the final version, going against Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas.”

As a charter member of the party establishment Roberts fears boosting work requirements will frighten away Democrats (Republicans would need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and pass the bill) as well as a few wishy-washy “moderate” GOP senators who go wobbly every time anyone suggests altering welfare benefits. As though asking people to try harder to find work or do community service or enroll in training programs would be bad for a person.

Democrats instinctively oppose such measures and resurrect the old “the poor will suffer” and “people will be starving in the streets!” arguments from the Gingrich Congress welfare reform push of the mid-nineties. Statistics amply show the Republicans’ (with Bill Clinton’s reluctant signature) changes to the system back then resulted in greater numbers of folks returning to work and a tremendous drop in applications for federal income supplements.

Obama came to town and changed the requirements, claiming the economic downturn necessitated it.

Debate will go back and forth, conservatives favoring tightening restrictions to not only save Uncle Sam money but also to encourage capable people to work for their subsistence. It used to be in America that work was seen as good for the soul as well as necessary to sustain oneself and their families. Not in the Democrat socialists’ world. Purveyors of this line of thought would much prefer no one be asked to do or pay for anything – the rich will foot the bill, right?

Socialists apparently think cash for “Medicare for All” and free college tuition grows on federal dollar trees. Who pays? The problem is that even in America there aren’t enough wealthy people to tax to pay for whatever the socialists want. Socialism inherently destroys incentives to work, earn and save, precisely the values citizens need to build an economy. History teaches that robbing from the rich to subsidize the poor doesn’t work in the long run. Sooner or later people stop toiling and then there’s nothing left for governments to confiscate.

Taking in the money demanded by socialists is only one problem associated with socialism. Once in power socialists always command more of everything from the people, including loyalty. If they don’t give it, bad things happen. All over the world graveyards are filled with victims and dissent isn’t looked upon kindly by those who mandate forced “equality” for all.

Newt Gingrich wrote at Fox News the other day, “If ... Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders want to try and convince most Americans to end capitalism and embrace a planned, totally redistributionist economy, they are welcome to use the democratic process to do so. It is up to those of us who know better to convince Americans of socialism’s folly…

“It is hard to imagine a modern-day [Jacobin] Reign of Terror happening in America. But consider the recent phenomenon of outrage mobs on social media demanding people be fired and ostracized for expressing un-PC points of view.

“Think about the left-wing activists taking over classrooms to prevent conservative voices from speaking. Think about the rash of people being attacked for wearing MAGA hats. Think about the violence of Antifa… Perhaps it is not so difficult to imagine.”

It’s not hard to imagine at all, actually. When you’ve got governors of blue states and mayors of major cities refusing to come to the aid of federal ICE agents when they’re literally under siege by leftist thugs you’re not far away from absolute anarchy. When society devolves to the point where certain protected classes no longer need to pay mind to the nation’s laws then there really isn’t a civilization any longer. Mob rule and complete social breakdown takes its place.

Not only do the Sanders/Ocasio-Cortez socialists push for mandatory government benefits for all they also advocate for open borders and doing away with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). In other words, Democrat Socialists are basically one step away from throwing in with the anarchists. In Ocasio-Cortez’s case she’s just in her late 20’s and judging by the interviews she’s given recently doesn’t have a clue as to what she’s saying or asking for.

By contrast Sanders is a lifelong socialist who at one time was considered a nutty outlier even within the Democrat party. His 2016 candidacy (though not an official Democrat party member) moved Hillary Clinton to the left (where she probably wanted to go anyway) and the rest is history. Now 2020 Democrat hopefuls feel obligated to gratify the leftist socialist mobs in order to retain viability within the party. It’s ugly.

Republicans are far from perfect but look principled by comparison. President Trump’s busy advancing an American economic revival and already his 2020 reelection campaign has a time tested and effective marketing slogan. Pete Kasperowicz wrote at the Washington Examiner, “Trump's slogan, MAGA for short, has so far proven to be bulletproof, and some who try to put a twist on the president's slogan can quickly appear to be arguing that America isn't great…

“As hard as it's been for Democrats to attack MAGA, they've also had trouble coming up with their own slogan. They were mocked for their ‘Better Deal’ slogan, a promise of ‘better skills, better jobs’ that sounded like a Papa John's ad for ‘better ingredients, better pizza.’

“Just a few months ago, Schumer seemed to give in by accepting Trump's slogan and criticizing him for failing to live up to his MAGA promise, while trying to sneak in the Democrats' ‘Better Deal’ slogan.”

Maybe the Democrats haven’t yet come up with a better campaign slogan because they don’t have an agenda to sell to American voters. They’ve proven effective at badgering Trump and their nonstop resistance is the foundation for all Democrat candidates, but the promise of more free goodies doesn’t appear to be motivating too many people.

Socialism would be an awful tough sell no matter who the Democrat candidate turns out to be in 2020 – or in congressional elections this November. Just because a majority of Democrats appears to dig the concept doesn’t mean the other three-quarters of America does.

Liberals argue limited government conservatism doesn’t appeal to a mass audience. It isn’t true, but there’s no doubt socialism turns off huge swaths of Americans. Free people understand you can’t get something for nothing, a truism that’s proving very hard to swallow for Democrats.

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