Opinion: The Bernie Phenomenon – Is Socialism This Popular or is Hillary Just That Unlikeable?

Bernie Sanders HIllary Clinton
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Remember when the word “socialist” used to be used as a pejorative in this country?

Yeah… Sometimes, I wish we could go back to those days.

The socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, is starting to look like he’s actually going to give the Democrat elites a run for their money in the primary, raising the question “is socialism really that popular in the United States, or is Hillary Clinton just that unlikable?”

Well, actually, it’s probably a little bit of both.

Certainly, part of Sanders’ appeal is that he’s not wearing a pantsuit and that he’s not married to Bill; but surely that isn’t all there is to his impressive rise in the polls, right? I mean, it’s understandable that Democrats would want to distance themselves from the woman who has turned corruption and deceit into a trademarked political maneuver, but is the Democrat Party really so void of respectable alternatives that a self-avowed socialist can gain in the polls by trotting out Karl Marx’s old talking points?

Actually, that’s a kinda stupid question I guess. I mean, other than Hillary and Bernie, what are their options? Martin O’Malley? (If you’re wondering who that is, congratulations: You’re just like most of the rest of America.) Maybe Joe Biden? C’mon… When Joe “It’s a big f-cking deal” Biden is looked at as the saving grace for Democrats’ presidential aspirations, it’s a pretty good sign that the Party is struggling to put enough players on its presidential bench to keep from forfeiting the game.

But the anti-Hillary sentiment certainly can’t explain all of Sanders’ support in the polls. After all, people settling for a less offensive version of a Clinton are probably not likely to show up in the tens of thousands to cheer on a boring old white guy with cotton candy/ Gene Wilder hair.

The guy isn’t even a terribly exciting personality. He sounds like a (bad) econ teacher from a New Jersey community college… who is less comfortable in his own skin than Bruce Jenner.

And yet, people are piling into Subarus with Obama stickers (I assume), so they can flock to the socialist senator’s campaign events by the thousands.

At the end of the day, there can really only be one clear reason for this: Democrats aren’t that turned off by socialism.

And why should they be? Heck, the socialist theory of plundering the producers to pander to the proletariat isn’t exactly a foreign concept to a party that has turned big-government redistribution into a core principle of winning elections. Aside from avoiding the term “bourgeois,” the Democrat Party has been progressively sliding into a more comfortable adaptation of socialist wealth-redistribution for the last century.

The progressive movement in America has been working on ways to politically weaponize class warfare for over one hundred years. And the modern Democrat Party has honed this redistributionist rhetoric to a point not seen since a bunch of Bolsheviks showed up in Moscow in 1917.

I know, the Bolsheviks were communists, not socialists. But while Karl Marx tried to explain that “democracy is the road to socialism,” Vladimir Lenin argued that “the goal of Socialism is Communism.” So, really, I guess you have to be a good socialist to be a good commie. Either way, their pamphlet on the “dangers” of limited government and free markets all look pretty darn similar.

Of course, there are still significant differences between socialists and Democrats. For starters, Democrats simply want to control private businesses and corporations through an intricate web of regulation, bureaucracy, and well-intentioned government coercion (AKA: Taxes). Socialists, on the other hand, would rather streamline the process, and just have the state own the means of production directly. (Because the Post Office and DMV are such success stories, right?)

A rose by any other name, I guess.

Even the chair of the Democrat National Committee seemed a little perplexed when asked to differentiate her party from the socialist movement. In all honesty, it’s very likely Debbie Wasserman Schultz (what a gem) doesn’t actually understand any of the nuanced distinctions between Socialism and the platform of modern American Democrats; but it’s just as likely that – at least on the surface – she doesn’t really see any.

After all, both ideologies call for a demonization of “corporations;”

Neither ideology appears to embrace unbridled capital creation;

Both push for a progressive tax code designed to target the “top one percent” for a little involuntary wealth redistribution;

And both ideologies pretty much prey off the public’s discontent at so-called “income inequality,” by employing the politics of envy, distrust, and greed.

In short, the Democrat Party has largely been adopting the PR playbook used by socialists since Marx first trotted out his cartoonish portrayal of capitalism’s inequities, even if they have resisted fully adopting its nuanced policy prescriptions. That’s why Debbie had a tough time explaining any difference, and that’s why a socialist from Vermont is giving the Democrat frontrunner a tougher challenge than expected.

It’s not that voters find socialism more appealing than the Democrat Party or Hillary Clinton – maybe they just find it more honest.


Michael Schaus is a talk radio host, political humorist, and artist. For more about him, or to send him all your angry thoughts about his political sarcasm, visit RightWingImage.com.


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