Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have amassed a huge following among millennials by propagating the myth that the only way to solve society’s problems is to seize wealth and property away from law-abiding citizens so that the federal government has significantly more power over all of our lives.
However, history has proven repeatedly that the collective ownership and management of property eventually leads to death, destruction, coercion, and tyranny. More than 167 million people have been killed, exiled, or imprisoned by socialist and communist regimes in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. That’s comparable to more than 50,000 attacks as deadly as those that occurred on September 11, 2001.
Whenever socialism is tried, it fails miserably – whether it’s in China, Nazi Germany, North Korea, Russia, Venezuela, or Zimbabwe. Yet, despite the mountains of evidence against collectively owning and managing property, Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez continue to allege that anyone who argues against socialism is nothing more than an untrustworthy right-wing propagandist and that all people like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez really want is to tweak the current system to make things better for the poor.
In a recent interview with NPR, Sanders said he needs to “do a better job maybe in explaining what we mean by socialism … Obviously, my right-wing colleagues here want to paint that as authoritarianism and communism and Venezuela, and that’s nonsense. What I mean by democratic socialism is that I want a vibrant democracy.”
Sanders later added, “Second of all, what it means, Rachel, is that in the wealthiest country in the history of the world we can provide a decent standard of living for all about [sic] people. … Health care for all can be done, and we can save money in doing it. We can have a minimum wage which is a living wage, and I’m delighted to see that, you know, right now, five states already passed $15 an hour minimum wage.”
According to Sanders, socialism is nothing more than advocating for higher minimum wage, single-payer health care, and a “vibrant democracy” – whatever that means. Interestingly, all these policies are also classified as “liberal” in U.S. politics, leaving many to wonder whether Sanders thinks liberalism, progressivism, and socialism are all synonymous terms. If so, why bother touting the benefits of “socialism” at all?
Of course, this isn’t what “socialism” is, and Sanders knows it. Socialism is the widespread collective ownership and management of property. A socialist society might have single-payer health care, which is undoubtedly a socialist policy, but that’s not the only socialized industry in a socialist economy. In a truly socialist system, government controls most of the economy, in part to ensure that wealth is continuously redistributed.
Socialists are deeply concerned about “wealth gaps” between different classes. They want to create a society in which wealth is equitably redistributed so that everyone has what they need, but not necessarily what they want. They don’t care about private property rights, individual liberty, free enterprise, or, in many cases, even religious freedom. Their primary concern is one thing, and one thing only: taking property and wealth away from the people who have earned it. They don’t support creating a truly free society, because they believe freedom leads to wealth gaps, and that can never be tolerated in socialism. They think the “rights” of the collective – which continuously shift and inevitably become whatever the majority of people in society wants – trumps all individual rights.
Or, put more simply, socialists want to create a democratic tyranny of the majority.
There are plenty of examples of how this plays out, but let’s briefly consider one of the most common. In a society in which the health care system is collectively owned and managed, who decides whether that health care system will pay for abortion, contraception, physician-assisted suicide, or a whole host of other controversial issues? Who decides what will happen if there is a limited supply of a vaccine or who will be first (or 50th) in line for a heart transplant? Who determines which communities deserve new hospitals and which do not? Or which parents are worthy of in vitro fertilization, which helps couples struggling to have children?
In a free market, all of these decisions are made by individuals, who voluntarily choose to exchange money, goods, and services with each other, as well as to create or support charities that help those who need assistance. In socialism, the answer is the majority of people in society determine the answers to all of these questions, and those who disagree are forced to go along with those choices, even if it violates their deeply held beliefs.
So, for example, in a single-payer nation, nuns are forced to pay for abortions and condoms, even though abortion and contraception are against their religious beliefs. In a socialized agricultural society, Hindus and members of PETA would be forced to pay for animals to get slaughtered, even though they think killing animals is immoral. In a society with socialized education, a majority of people might decide, for example, that women shouldn’t be educated, stifling the rights of girls.
In socialism, whatever the majority wants, the majority gets – even if that means hurting others in the process or stealing their property simply because most voters think they would benefit from having it.
This is exactly the sort of system Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders want. They might spend a lot of time talking about things like increasing the minimum wage, but what they’re really after is controlling our entire society. That’s why Ocasio-Cortez proposed the “Green New Deal,” which would destroy countless thousands of businesses, including all of the fossil-fuel industry; impose “upgrades” for every building in the country; effectively eliminate the private health insurance market and put government in charge of the health care system; create a free college tuition program; provide a federal job to anyone who wants one and a basic income to people who are “unwilling” to work; end air travel; and add thousands of new federal regulations, among numerous other radical policies.
It also explains why Sanders recently hired David Sirota as a presidential campaign advisor. Sirota is a far-left pundit who once referred to Hugo Chavez’s “full-throated advocacy of socialism and redistributionism” in Venezuela as an “economic miracle” – just before Venezuela’s economy collapsed into total chaos.
Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are socialists, and socialism is, at best, well-intentioned tyranny. Don’t be a tyrant.