The Sanders surge and the slippery slope

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Check it out:

One of our national great failures is that we, the people, have allowed our government schools to teach that communism, and its more polite brother, socialism, are anything other than the violent, failed doctrines of tyrants and lunatics. This is one of the reasons that Bernie Sanders is surging through the primaries and might be anointed the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party right here in Wisconsin.

Communism is not just an alternate form of organizing society or an altruistic expression of collective will. It is not just another way of accomplishing the same goals as capitalism and liberal democracy. Communism is an evil and murderous creed.

Communist governments have killed at least 100 million people over the last century. That is far more than every other kind of government combined. The oppression and killing by communists span cultures, geographies, and time. Whether in communist China, Soviet Russia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Cuba, North Korea, Ethiopia, or elsewhere, communist violence is not a bug. It is a feature.

Some defenders of socialism and communism contend that the failures and atrocities of communism in places like Russia and North Korea were caused by externalities and circumstances that can be avoided on the next attempt. What these defenders neglect to share, or understand, is that centrally planned societies and economies require a tremendous concentration of power into the hands of a very small group of people. Those central planners are subject to the same emotions, flaws, passions, egos, jealousies, and sins of any other human. Communism does not bestow virtue on the practitioner. If anything, the old saw holds true that absolute power corrupts, absolutely.

Even if communism could be implemented by purely perfect noble beings, the very construct of the doctrine is contrary to the human condition. By eliminating free markets (legal ones) and individual rewards (except corrupt ones), people have little incentive to be productive or worry about making things that people actually want. The absence of incentive robs people of their initiative and denies society the benefit of their ingenuity. The result is the inevitable decline of a decaying society. The lessons of history are all too important today as a sizable number of our fellow Americans are supporting Bernie Sanders, and more importantly, his ideology. Sanders has put together a string of primary victories as he heads into Super Tuesday. Here in Wisconsin, a recent poll by the UW-Madison Elections Research Center shows Sanders the overwhelming favorite of Wisconsin’s Democrats with twice the support of his closest rivals, Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg.

Now that he is a national figure, Bernie Sanders likes to disavow communism in favor of something he calls “democratic socialism.” It is a distinction without a difference. Wordplay has always been a favorite tool of communists. Without going into Sanders’ long history of support and praise for communism and communist regimes, one need only look at Sanders’ platform to see it for what it is.

Sanders’ “Medicare for All” is the same government takeover of the health care system that we have seen for decades. Sanders would have the government outlaw private health care providers in favor of a health care system run by the federal government. Such a system puts government bureaucrats in charge of our personal humanity — our health.

Enacting the Green New Deal would require the government to force action in the energy and construction sectors of our economy. It would also require the government to obliterate private property rights in order to impose environmental mandates across the country.

Sanders’ plans for what he calls “workplace democracy” would shove people into unions and require the government to dictate the policies of heretofore private companies. Given government control of wages, health care, private property, etc., unions would be relegated to little more than enforcement arms of the government.

Does this sound familiar? Look at the verbs in the preceding paragraphs. “Outlaw.” “Force.” “Require.” “Obliterate.” “Impose.” “Dictate.” All of these policies require a colossal concentration of power into the hands of a select few in faraway Washington, D.C., to centrally manage our health care, work, economy, energy, and homes. With such concentration comes the inevitable violence and oppression to bend the people to the will of the central planners.

While some of my fellow conservatives relish the idea of a Sanders’ victory because they believe that Sanders would be the easiest challenger for President Trump to defeat, we must not risk our great nation for game theory and political theater. In this case we must follow the communists’ example and smother the threat before it grows — peaceably in the voting booth.