I have no plans to vote for Bernie Sanders. I predict that the DNC will vote for Warren or Biden. But I also don’t believe in fear or gossip, and I believe in truth and distinctions. So let’s examine why we can be certain that if Bernie Sanders became president, the country would not become socialist. The same reason that, when Trump was elected, the country did not become a fascist regime.
Bernie Sanders calls himself a “democratic socialist,” but he’s not even that. Either he confuses his terminology or he’s using the phrase on purpose because socialism is becoming popular again among many Americans.
Sanders is a social democrat.
Now while that may just look like a reversal of words, it’s a difference in specific labels for specific approaches to governing and economy.
Sander’s “socialism” is Scandanavian-style regulated capitalism. Just check out his “How Will Bernie Pay For His Major Plans?” web page. High taxes, government benefits, lots of private property, lots of freedom of speech, even lots of wealth. But high taxes and increased government benefits. Love it or hate it, that’s what he’s pushed for, that’s what he preaches, and that’s what he’s outlined in his plans.
Some of Sanders’ statements about economic experiments in South America are—well—they’re stupid. He finds it fashionable to deplore their tyranny, only to turn around and praise a literacy program. But supposing he was actually a fan of some of the tyrannical policies in these regimes—and not just some guy making a point using the benefits those regimes put in place—he would have to be backed by the same “establishment’ Congress he keeps alienating on both the left and right.
So even if he tried to be extreme, Sanders would be watered down by Congress, the judicial branch, and every other check and balance put in place over 200 years ago.
Sanders has no plans for the U.S. government to own the means of production. What he wants is progressively higher taxes to fund government programs: the richer you are, the more you are taxed. This approach to economics has its faults, but it’s far from Venezuela. Rather, it’s Northern Europe. And in many ways, some of these countries are more capitalist than America (it’s easier to open a small business in Denmark than in the U.S.).
One might ask, how about those times that Sanders supported something a country like China did?
Well, Trump does the same thing. He’s praised all kinds of dictators. And this reveals something. Famous leaders can’t help but admire what others accomplished, even if it was done tyrannically. But of course, whenever we call contemporary American leaders “Hitler,” we forget that they can’t possibly be Hitler. The Constitution prevents them.
Trump once said in a speech, “America will never become a socialist country.” That’s not a statement you can make unless you know the future. She could become one in a hundred years. But America just as easily may never become a capitalist country either. She isn’t now and never has been. America is a mixed economy. We just keep adjusting the mix. Even as Trump sits in office, we have a high taxation rate, high government spending, and high regulation.
So why does he keep referring to South America and using the word “socialism”? Because it gets young people hyped and puts him on the map. It mobilizes people. But it’s not going to bring about a socialist revolution any more than Obama did. That’s bad news for far leftists, good news for conservatives.
Keep in mind that the Constitution and the fabric of the American public together would prevent the government from “going Venezuela” even if an actual socialist president was somehow voted into office. He or she would be resisted, and their efforts to overturn things like private property would fail. Like any country that “went commie,” other devastating factors have to come in to play than an election upset. Venezuela has a recent history of armed revolution and attempted coups. America does not. (Well, I mean we’ve financed plenty of other coups. You know what I mean.)
Chavez abolished the Constitution by holding an assembly. He removed Congress and the Judicial ranch, just like that. How would anyone expect a sitting U.S. president to try that?
The truth is, Sanders far more resembles Obama than Chavez or Maduro. In ideology, in policy, in constituency. Like Obama, Sanders is a social democrat favoring a high tax/high regulation mixed economy. If he is elected, it will very much look like a return to the Obama years, that different than the Bush years. He will probably tax you more, especially if you’re rich. The government will spend a lot, even mores from the pockets of the rich (if he can somehow defeat all the lobbying against his plans). Bernie’s campaign promise is that these high taxes, combined with regulation, will save the middle and lower class on standard of living. This is what we should examine closely. Do the math. If it’s flawed, show it. But Bernie Sanders is not going to take over your car factory or your dentist office or your bank. He wouldn’t be able to even if he tried.
So stop tossing the word “socialism” around as a hype word or a scare word. Examine the actual ideas. Critique them. If you think a single presidential election in the U.S. is going to bring us a utopia or a dystopia, you’re kidding yourself. And you’re kidding the Constitution.