How Can Bernie Sanders Happen in America?

bernie Sanders AmericaA number of pundits have recently argued that younger voters, especially those under 30, are less inclined to be bothered when they hear the word “socialism,” since they have no firsthand memory of the Cold War.

To some extent, this must be true. Those who weren’t alive during socialism’s cruelest catastrophes — or even its many banal failures — will be less put off by the idea. Then again, if a presidential candidate were praising the excellent public transportation system of the Third Reich or going on about the some alleged benefit to American slavery, they would rightly be chased from the public square forever even though the vast majority of voters have no firsthand knowledge of the Holocaust or slavery. Anti-Semitism and racism haven’t disappeared, and neither has Marx, sadly.

For that matter, many Americans — including Bernie — lived through Stalin and Pol Pot and Mao and they still champion the idea of socialism. It’s completely unsurprising that Bernie once defended the Viet Cong. Because many of us over 40 immediately recognize who Bernie is. I grew up with people like him. In those days, though, adults generally didn’t take their crazy disheveled Commie uncles who taught economics at the local commuter college very seriously. Maybe that’s the problem.

It’s true that Bernie’s fans aren’t acquainted with socialism (and, incidentally, this is true only if we ignore the existence of Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, China, etc.), but the fact is that most Bernie supporters don’t seem to have a rudimentary grasp of basic economics much less the “socialism” they think exists in Scandinavian nations. What they do have are lots of feelings. And, like millions of other saps over the past century-plus, they’ve been enticed by the collectivist “ethic” — its revolutionary appeal, its religiosity, and its quixotic promises.

“Fascism is remembered as a crime,” John Hayward correctly points out. “Communism is treated like a mistake.” I’d add that capitalism is judged by its few failures and socialism by its few successes. Sanders will never praise the “literary programs” of any non-tyranny. But if I’ve learned anything from Twitter — or perhaps, more accurately, if Twitter has solidified any of my existing suspicions — it’s that academia is teeming with hard-left apologists. There are plenty of fantastic historians out there, of course, but many of loudest academics, the ones media often relies on, are either apologists for socialism or socialists themselves.

Actually, forget college. There are few more powerful arguments for school choice than seeing a high-school kid bring home Howard Zinn’s preposterous Marxist history of the United States. I suppose an adventurous young reader could seek out Gulag ArchipelagoDarkness at Noon, or Animal Farm. How many do?

Actually, forget high school. When Bernie says he wants to institute a universal “free” pre-K, I just picture little boys and girls with red scarfs singing Pete Seeger songs because I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what he pictures.

Education, or a lack of it, isn’t the only problem. As David Bernstein notes, “the cultural elite in this country — Hollywood, the universities, etc. — treats the Cold War as if the great world-historical crime of the mid-twentieth century was not Stalinism and its aftermath, but McCarthyism and its aftermath.”

Indeed, a person consuming culture during the last 20 years of the Soviet Union’s existence, as I did, would be led to believe that McCarthyism was the single worst crime perpetrated in the 20th century — and capitalism its single most destructive idea. Though collectivism has rained down more starvation and death on humanity than any other ideology, I can recall maybe a handful of films that even took an oppositional position to it. And most of those movies were infantile (don’t get me wrong, I love Red Dawn, but it’s silly.) Even James Bond rarely treated the Commies as the enemy — mostly, he was trying to stop rogue agents from pitting the two superpowers against each other.

Most educated Americans have not only seen movies depicting the Holocaust, but they’ve seen the horrifying real-life pictures of that genocide. How many of Americans have looked at pictures of the Ukrainian famine? Or the Great Leap Forward? How many Americans have ever even heard of those events?

Maoism was responsible for 50 million or more deaths, and Stalinism another 20 or 30 million, but I can’t think of a single important American novel or film depicting those holocausts. Offhand I can recall one American movie that seriously portrayed the inhumanity of collectivism — The Killing Fields, though one hopes there are at least some others I’ve forgotten. That movie is now 36 years old.

Today, though, a person can watch more than one movie romanticizing a murderous thug like Che Guevara (two of them were produced in the 2000s), but not one about the bravery of refuseniks (a group that Bernie, a man who claims he is deeply moved by his Judaism, couldn’t spare a single word for on his Soviet Union honeymoon) or courageous anti-Communist fighters of Latin America, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, or anywhere else. It’s a shame.

No, Bernie isn’t Stalin. He claims to be a democratic socialist. I get it. But there’s an array of good reasons no one says, “Hey, let’s give democratic fascism a shot.” There are just as many good reasons not to normalize socialism. At their core, both ideologies are authoritarian. The only difference is that academics and our cultural stewards have whitewashed one of them.

Reprinted with permission from - National Review - by David Harsanyi

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3 years ago

This article by Mr. David Harsanyi should be repeatedly read to every child, student, person in America b4 Nov 2020. There is no reason for this truth not to be known by all. And repetition is how we learn. The repetition of socialist teachings is how evil bernie has so many cult followers- the young, & the weak minded.
Pray for President Trump, who truly loves America, to be re-elected as President of
our U.S.A.

3 years ago

If you have a mid 20’s child you know how Bernie Sanders can happen in America. These kids were deal a terrible lesson. These kids for the most part were spoon fed most of their life’s. As parents we “gave” them cars, money and love. Then they graduated from high school and there were no, even minimum wage, jobs. They could go to college and amass a great debt and still may not find a minimum wage job. Many were solely dependent on their parents for months as their only means of support. Many lived on the streets, lived with drugs, became addicted. There was no help for these kids. Things finally got better and they moved on to a modest life but many are still struggling with drugs, student loans and mental health issues. So Bernie and his socialism preaches this would never happen if he’s elected. And if you buy his line, it sounds pretty good to these young adults. Most of us started working in grade school, we are a totally different generation and we’ve done a poor job teaching values, honor, duty and country to our children. It’s not too late, but we have to walk our talk. Are you willing to do that?

3 years ago

I don’t get it! What makes Bernie supporters believe that anything Bernie is selling comes FREE?

Can u’all jus wake up. Reality is NOTHING is Free! Bernie says he’ll tax The Rich more? HELLO? Theyr RICH they can pack up n dig out of America. Leaving us folks to foot the high tax price. WHY? We deplorables dont have the money to jus LEAVE. COLLEGE FREE, MEDICARE FREE? How much will this FREE cost us?

I will jus be REAL… Bernie will NOT be President. TRUMP will serve another term. Everyone who votes for Trump are Realist. We understand the value of the dollar. We didn’t expect anything to come Free, we EARNED IT.
TRUMP is making America Great again n plans to keep it that way. You may not like him…n you don’t have to like him. Look at his accomplishments
PROMISES MADE…PROMISES KEPT. Even w all BULL he put up w from the Lying donkeys. Fake impeachment n all.

Vote for Bernie n you n ur family will be the losers.
Vote fot Trump n u’r on the right path.

David Peterson
3 years ago

My Collegiate Dictionary defines a Democratic Socialist as a Socialist who believes in bringing about a change to socialism by peaceful means rather than through violence. The end result is the same.

3 years ago
Reply to  David Peterson

Socialism whether it be peaceful. VS violent is never, never, ever the answer This dangerous trend to. Adopt Socialism is not to be tolerated by Any sane individual!!!!

3 years ago

Bernie can not be left to win nomination. This country won’t survive him and his beliefs. The younger generation has no idea what this crazy person will do to US. He has never in his life changed his mind on solicalism. He really needs to move to USSR. There is NO Utopian world these kids are not well educated to the properties of that game and so far it has not worked in 80 some years!

3 years ago
Reply to  Marj

I AGREE SEND BERNIE And His freaky followers to USSR or better yet to a remote area in Siberia?????

Doris Park
3 years ago

They have not been taught history in school since Obama was in office and that needs to change. And if it is blasted across TV enough they think it is true.

3 years ago
Reply to  Doris Park

History hasn’t been taught properly in most of our public schools and nearly every college and university for decades now. This did not start with Obama. This has been a growing problem since the 1970’s and the shifting of education standards from the state / local level to the federal government after Nixon created the Department of Education as a olive branch to the left. Needless to say, that was a foolhardy move on his part, as the left quickly used their new influence to ramp up their progressive indoctrination agenda.

Jack Thomas
3 years ago
Reply to  PaulE

You’re right, academia has failed our kids in teaching American history — with a few exceptions where the Constitution and how it has affected our Nation’s self-governance is taught in its proper context. As for the federal Department of Education, it should’ve been abolished years ago. I don’t believe the Feds should be injecting themselves into public school education, a matter that should be left to the States to determine.

Doris Park
3 years ago

More people should read this

Jeffrey Inmon
3 years ago

I don’t know how many issues that President Bernie could get his hands on with executive orders but one thing is certain. A Sanders Presidency will immediately create a mass exodus of companies and corporations out of the United States because of the absurd amount of taxes they will have to pay to stay here as well as paying inflated wages to workers. There goes most of the jobs for our country and it will force rations and socialistic measures to deal with the problem. ??

Gerald Schalk
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeffrey Inmon

Corporations that DO stay will just pass the taxes thru to: share holders (theft of wealth) – employees (theft of individual income) – and customers (inflation)

Jack Thomas
3 years ago

How can the younger generation embrace socialism? Two reasons:
1. They have not been taught about socialism/communism in their proper context. Our public schools and universities have failed them.
2. Human Nature dictates that people will often take the line of least resistance. It’s therefore easy for millennials and Generation Z to be sucked in by the false utopian ideas proposed by politicians like self-avowed socialist Bernie Sanders and others of his ilk.

The Freezing Senior
3 years ago

A: Stupid/immature people who believe in anything that sounds like FREE.

GBA/KAG #TRUMP2020 – Deus Vult !

3 years ago

Agreed Freezing Senior. When you have two full generations of Americans educated (actually indoctrinated) by a progressive dominated public education system over the last 50 years to believe that socialism is somehow far superior to capitalism, even though in actuality it has always failed anywhere it was implemented for obvious reasons, and that an all powerful government is the answer to just about everything, it really shouldn’t surprise anyone in our generation that Bernie Sanders has millions of young followers hanging on his every word. The rise of people like Bernie (and there are many, many more of them out there) is the natural by-product of our generation largely sitting idly by for the past 50 years as our younger generations were systematically brainwashed.

The cause and effect that has created a person like Bernie Sanders being a serious candidate of any major political party in our country is really far less complicated than the author of the above article makes it out to be. People like Hitler, Stalin and Mao, as well as other noted socialist / communist leaders of the last century, all understood that using the education system to systemically brainwash the young was the most expedient path of gaining or retaining power of the masses long-term. That was unfortunately a historical lesson far too many of our generation decided to ignore. So now we are left with the consequences to try and clean up.

Jack Thomas
3 years ago
Reply to  PaulE

PaulE . . . You’re astute observations are noted. But the rise in popularity of socialist demagogues like Bernie Sanders isn’t merely a result of brainwashing by our education system. It’s the corrupting, pervasive influence of the mainstream media as well, and the “elites” who have the controlling power in American society know it just as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao knew it.

Jack Thomas
3 years ago
Reply to  PaulE

Paul E … You neglected to mention that the corrupt, pervasive influence of the MSM is also pushing the younger generation toward socialism, thus the attraction to demagogues like Bernie Sanders. The “elites” who have the power to control the liberal mass media drive the socialist narrative. This is key to maintaining power. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao understood this. So does the far-left wing of the Democrat Party.

3 years ago
Reply to  Jack Thomas

I’ve included the role that MSM has played in the conditioning of the populace for years now. They are after all the defacto propaganda arm of the Democrat party and have had that role going back several decades. I just didn’t think it was necessary to repeat their role in undermining America yet again. Yes, all socialist and communist leaders of the past and present understand the vital role absolute control of the media is in both shaping public opinion and retaining power over the masses they control.

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