Democratic Socialism… Until it’s Not

Bernie Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist. This means that yeah, he wants the government to control many or all aspects of the economy, but at least you get to choose who is running it. However, when the people allow the government to control more and more aspects of their lives, the government will eventually have so much power that the people will not be able to stop it. It is at this point where democratic socialism turns into the totalitarian state that liberty lovers fear most. After all, Hitler was elected before implementing a one-party state. So while democratic socialism might sound like a nice contrast to plain old socialism, don’t fool yourself. As Thomas Jefferson said, the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and for government to gain, and by putting a democratic socialist in the office of the presidency, you are accelerating that progression much too fast to ever be stopped.

-Trevor Louis

9 Comments

  1. You make a lot of points, but where is the substance?
    Rather than just taking a bunch of cheap lousy shots at Bernie for having socialist ideas and making ridiculous and baseless accusations that voting for him is apparently a vote towards Stalinist Russia or a communist regime that would instigate a World War, why not attack and criticize his core ideas and his approach towards resolving the nations issues by offering coherent evidence and logic. Be above the Liberal media and display your thoughts in a reasonable and intelligent manner.

    What is so “totalitarian” about:
    -Reforming campaign politics to get big money out of politics and restoring a sense of democracy to the United States that the founding father fought for?

    – Getting people out of unemployment through stimulus by investing a large sum of money into infrastructure that would put a lot of people back to work and modernize our country’s infrastructure, a core piece of our economy? What makes this far worse than imposing a flat tax and hoping for the best?”

    -Getting universal health care, an act that would boost the economy and save the government trillions of dollars over the next decade in health expenditures

    -Making sure that the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes and don’t store their money in off shore havens?

    • First of all, I’m glad you’re reading so many of our posts. Secondly, the whole point of the post is that as you give the government more and more power, the less democratic it becomes. I’ll gladly go through each of your points to show you where the seeds of totalitarianism lay.

      A vote for Bernie is a vote towards Stalinist Russia. After all, he spent his honeymoon in the Soviet Union.

      Totalitarian regimes require the support of the people to be first implemented. This is why I cited the fact that Hitler was elected before implementing a one-party state.

      Now on to your specific points:
      -Money is speech. To get big money out of politics, you have to ignore the first amendment to the Constitution which protects the right of people to support candidates as they want to. This is what they founding fathers fought for, a republic that protects the right of the minority, the people making donations, in the face of the tyrannical majority. This is why we are a republic and not a democracy, which the founders opposed on the grounds that no democracy has ever been successful for long because it turns into mob rule, and it’s easy for charismatic figures who want to uproot the system to say, “Follow me, I’ll show you the way and solve all of your problems,” and then win enough popular support to get elected. This is how totalitarian figures like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders can be one step away from getting elected.

      -To do this requires, as you say, large sums of money. To get large sums of money, you have to use government sponsored theft in the form of high taxes. A flat tax opens up the market, institutes fairness, and allows the people to improve their lives using the greatest economic system devised in history.

      -Universal health care requires the government taking over a whole quarter of the economy. Instead of letting the free market, which has given the US the highest quality health care in the world, run the economy, Bernie would run health care from Washington, which is in its very essence totalitarianism. Even in other countries that have universal health care, they let local governments provide it instead of the central government because they know that centralized health care would be far to expensive and inefficient.

      -The top 10 percent of the nation’s wealthiest people pay 70 percent of the nation’s taxes. That’s more than fair. Using the government to steal from the rich and hand to the poor is the very definition of being unfair. And any money that is stored in offshore accounts would be brought back if we had a flat tax.

      Thanks for your interest.

  2. Gratitude is likewise for responding in a substantive manner.

    On the issues of finance in campaign politics, you are right, the people have the right to support a candidate as they please;however, like all freedom, it always comes at a cost and that cost is running high risk of corruption. Due to the vitality of money in order for candidates to reach their goals of power, the likely and easy thing to do is for them to appeal to the issues of where…wait for it…the MONEY is coming from. This focus on money often leads to many politicians adhering and making cases as to why they should receive funds typically through exchanging promises and power that benefit the big money donors and no one else. How come the homeless guy sitting outside Union Station doesn’t get to make a case? How come the working mom on minimum wage with 3 kids can’t make a case? Rich or poor you are all Americans, and the support of someone should never be because of ones financial gain. I am not saying lets eradicate Big money completely out of politics, but if you impose restrictions to make campaign donations more reasonable, it motivates the candidates to really reach out to the American residents to earn their vote and increases the involvement of other citizens in the political process(Sorry to sound like Bernie Sanders). This gives ultimate power to the people and not to the government, nullifying the rise of totalitarianism. If you keep ultimate power to the elite with deep pockets, you have an aristocracy. Luckily, neither have a chance to develop because America was blessed with this thing called Congress and the Supreme Court.

    On infrastructure, to acquire money to do so doesn’t always mean offsetting taxes to pay for such things, by encouraging the fairness of taxes that you suggested on corporations that hide profits in offshore territories, it would generate, per Congressional Research(http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40623.pdf), up to 1 trillion dollars over the course of the next 10 years. That same one trillion would be used to put 13 million people in the workforce. Now in terms of a flat tax, which is essentially a core piece of Reaganomics, can do a lot of good for the people and the market, but it would not be as beneficial considering that when Reagan and Bush imposed such tax cuts, it nearly skyrocketed the national debt and an exponential rate even though they were already making so many cuts in spending. With the debt already so high, I don’t think that now is the right time for such action. However I do believe under different circumstances, that a flat tax would be a good booster.

    On health care, once again you are right, it created the best qualitative health care system in the world, but at what cost? Still witnessing many fellow American citizens suffer because of how one horrible accident can run them bankrupt, how Americans die because they can’t afford it, and ultimately, how much health care has an effect on jobs. If universal healthcare were to be adopted(whether localized or centralized) would be a big plus for the free market and the people because private and public sectors would no longer have to pay health insurer policies, which would lead to more pockets in businesses that can be used to add more jobs or increase wages and encourage entrepreneurship. Would it cost a little bit of taxes? sure, but for something that is very beneficial to the government(net savings from getting rid of medicare and medicaid), the free market, and most importantly, the American people, why not?

    For the record I am not saying that Sanders is the clear way to go, there are multiple policies he has that are alarming such as hiking up the minimum wage to $15, free college, climate change, Wall Street should be working for Main Street(God help us), but some of them do make sense and don’t entail the beginnings of a totalitarianism state that would be a big danger to the people.

    (FYI-I don’t mean to be petty, but Hitler wasn’t elected by his people, he lost the presidential election in 1932 but he was appointed Chancellor by the Prime Minister I believe)

    • You are completely ignoring the fact that to restrict money in politics, you have to ignore the first amendment, which protects the right of the people to support candidates as they want to, as money is speech. To restrict this right would be to limit the power that people have in getting their voices heard, not the opposite, as you suggest. Here lies the central problem with campaign finance reform, who would pass these laws that restrict speech? The answer would be current legislators, and the reason why is that it helps them in their campaigns. As incumbents, current legislators have a major advantage over their challengers in that they have greater name recognition. Challengers are able to mitigate this effect by raising large sums of money to spread their message. Without large financial resources, challengers are not able to buy ads or hire the campaign workers that they need to make sure that their message is heard. The end result of campaign finance reform would be to make every election be between an incumbent, who people know, and a challenger, who people don’t. Incumbents would win elections at much higher rates, which would lead to little variety in congress and an ability for incumbents to not pay attention to their constituents at all, as they are sure to win re-election anyway.

      The United States has been able to provide the highest quality health care because entrepreneurs and innovators have taken the risks necessary to invent the most efficient system of health care. Universal health care would not save anybody money because the government cannot innovate and work at the same efficiency rate as the free market, leading to an increase in cost. Just because you’re shifting the burden of health care expenses from the businesses and the people to the government doesn’t mean that the government is saving people money because the government has to pay for these programs through increased taxes, as you stated. Even if prices for health care didn’t go up in the form of higher taxes, which it will, then quality will surely go down as the government doesn’t have the same accountability to the people as private businesses do. Just look at the VA scandal for proof. In addition, universal health care violates the rights of the doctors as no one has a right to someone else’s labor. (This is a property rights argument.)

      You stated that “some of them (policies)… don’t entail the beginnings of a totalitarian state,” but that means that others do, such as the ones that you listed in your last paragraph. Bernie Sanders would greatly increase the size and scope of government and limit the freedoms that people have grown accustomed to. Eventually, if not impeded, this could dangerously lead to absolute authoritarian rule as the people would no longer have the ability to check the power of government, as is what happened in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia.

      (Hitler lost the 1932 election but was elected in the 1934 election by a plebiscite vote with 90% support.)

      • Money isn’t always free speech. Just like all Amendments, they’re certain restrictions on a multitude of them, and a multitude of them that have been removed since the days of the Founding Father for the greater good of the people. Big money in politics would be one of them because it gives power to the majority of the people. They’re many alternative ways to advocate your support for your candidate that doesn’t include spending an absurd amount of $889 million dollars on a campaign(Yes Koch brothers, I am looking at you) just so that you can hopefully get yourself some power in office. Look at Bernie Sanders himself as an example. Is he a challenger? Indeed so, but Bernie has raised a lot of money (182$ million) with every donor having averaged roughly $27. Is he getting his message across the board? Clearly otherwise he would not be in this discussion. I am not saying they ought to pass a bill to restrict it that low, but it should be enough to prevent individuals with deep pockets from being the core funders of their campaign.

        Of course the health care system will be paid for by disappearance in Medicare and Medicaid and taxes. What is so wrong about paying a more taxes to pay for something that will be very efficient and will go down in the long run as the government raises more revenue, for something that can accomplish a lot? Until someone can prove me otherwise, the whole “anti-taxes” stance seems rather petty and trivial to me.

        Did I say some of his policies? My bad, allow me to make myself clear. None of his policies catalyze the inception of a totalitarian state because it is impossible for that to happen especially in this day an age. Are some of them terrible that likely will never see the light of day? Definitely. But lets not be such extremists here.

      • Money is speech. No government has the right to restrict the free expression of ideas. By doing so, governments are limiting the pool of candidates that have a chance to participate in an election, which is, whoop-dee-doo, totalitarianism. No amendments from the Bill of Rights have been removed, so I’m not sure where you’re getting that from. The only way for an amendment to be removed is through a Constitutional amendment, so restrict free speech through an amendment if you want to instead of making up laws as you see fit. Once again, totalitarianism. Bernie has raised a lot of money because he is campaigning in a presidential election and is the sole challenger to Hillary Clinton, whom many Democrats despise. In state-wide elections, it is a lot tougher to raise money through popular support.

        Oh, I’m sure the government will find a way to pay for it through government sponsored theft in the form of high taxes, or debt, as that’s a frequent method of choice too. Not sure where you’re getting the idea that universal health care will be “very efficient.” Everywhere it’s been tried, the opposite has proved true, and that’s with health care coming from local institutions and not the central government, as is Bernie’s plan. In Europe, people wait for months just to see a doctor. In the United States, you can see this inefficiency in the VA scandal.

        I’ve explained how all of his policies have at least a semblance of totalitarianism. The reason why totalitarianism could happen today is because there are a lot of people in this country that think “it can’t happen here.” If the people don’t work vigilantly to protect their rights and freedoms, the state will one day take over control of our lives. When Ben Franklin was asked after the Constitutional Convention, “What have we wrought?”, Franklin made a statement that is very fitting in this context: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

      • Restriction of ideas? Come on now putting a reasonable restriction on campaign expenses actually broadens the pool because candidates are now relieved of the burden of possibly having to lick the asses of billionaires and very wealthy people to pay for their expenses by appealing to THEIR needs rather than the greater majority of the American people. It incentivizes candidates to reach out to the public a lot more and put in the hard work of getting the finance and the votes of the American people. Even when the other Democrats were competing for the nomination, By Summer of 2015, Bernie had raised $140 million dollars. He ranked 3rd behind Jeb Bush and Hilary Clinton.

        I am not sure where you are getting data that people wait months to see a doctor. From the month of February 2016 from the NHS, Britain’s Health Care system, the median waiting time was 2 weeks(During the Winter where waiting times are at its worst) with a larger percentage of the 800k people waiting(Out of the 50 million people living in England) waiting less than a week. Definitely not as efficient as the US but far from a failure.I remember my childhood living in the UK very well and whenever I got sick or had a problem, I was met with medical attention rather swiftly as well.

        A totalitarian state needs to have the following for it to take place:
        -State control over Individuals by denying basic liberties, demanding loyalty, and expecting personal sacrifices for the good of the state? Nope nothing here

        -Methods of Enforcement(violence)? Not even close

        -Dictatorship and One Party Rule? Last time I checked we have this thing called House of Representatives and the Senate

        -Control over Media? Don’t need to get started here do I?

        -Dynamic Leader? Sure I’ll give you this one, then again was FDR dynamic too?

        -State Control over Society: Labor?(Nope, you can still work whenever you want), business(you can still start a business),arts? No, Housing, No, Education, parts of it, but still no.

    • Sorry to skip over your segment on a flat tax. https://mises.org/library/sad-legacy-ronald-reagan-0 http://mercatus.org/publication/spending-under-president-george-w-bush First of all, federal spending was not cut under either Reagan or Bush. Tax reform can only be accompanied by regulatory reform and actual budget cuts. Ted Cruz’s flat tax actually raises the most revenue of the Republican tax plans. http://taxfoundation.org/article/details-and-analysis-senator-ted-cruz-s-tax-plan Also, Ted Cruz would seriously pursue across the board spending cuts and the elimination of several government departments, which would make his flat tax plan much more effective than the Reagan years, which were successful despite spending increases, and the Bush years, which were not as successful.

    • Correct, as money is speech and is protected by the first amendment, restricting campaign donations is the restriction of ideas. If you don’t like my first argument, then how about this one: Why are businesses and wealthy people donating to political campaigns? The answer is, of course, that it benefits many of them in the long run financially. As the size and scope of government has grown, it has been in the best interest of businesses to get in the ear of politicians to help them get subsidies, tax breaks, regulations on their competitors, etc. Under the Obama administration, as government has grown, lobbyist money has increased at a high rate because big government benefits the elites, not the lower class.

      http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/11/16/what-world-doesnt-know-about-health-care-in-america.html

      This article is from 2012 and cites multiple studies. Government run health care cannot be as efficient as the private sector because the government has never been more efficient than the private sector.

      What about the denial of gun rights? The denial of free speech through campaign finance restrictions, the imprisonment of climate scientists who believe that anthropogenic climate change isn’t real, or the religious baker who doesn’t want to violate their religion?

      Sanders’ platform marks the beginnings of totalitarianism, as socialism time and time again has led to. Remember, the idea is not that Sanders himself would be completely totalitarian but that as we give the government more power, it creates the conditions for a much worse figure to emerge.

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