One of the things I have to admire about this current Presidential Election Cycle are all those Bernie Sanders supporters: They’re young, energetic, passionate, dedicated, and idealistic – reminds me of how I was the first time I was old enough to vote.
They’re also extremely eager to engage anyone who’ll listen to their cause. As one who welcomes a nice give-and-take discussion of issues (and, playing the Devil’s Advocate on occasion…but, I digress) I couldn’t help but engage idealistic youth with some slightly more-experienced – and possibly a bit more pragmatic & cynical – age.
Now while I haven’t talked to too many Bernie Sanders supporters, I did manage to learn quite a bit about a number of things both wrong and right with America, to wit:
- America is more successful than Donald Trump, because the USA hasn’t gone bankrupt 4 times.
- Every Foreign Policy disaster under Obama has the same root cause: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s cronies invading Iraq to take their oil.
- Every problem Obama has encountered during his Presidency was inherited from George W. Bush.
- The low gasoline prices we now enjoy are the direct result of Obama’s Foreign & Domestic Policy decisions during his presidency.
- “The rich” must pay their “fair share” of taxes – there’s no reason why a person should keep more than, say, $1,000,000 a year.
- Walmart & Target should be allowed to fail so that family-run small businesses can step in and provide better service for their customers and a decent living for themselves.
- Big Pharma, through their high prices & massive profits, are killing poor people: The government should limit their gross profits to 15% and forbid them from advertising in the media, redirecting these monies to reducing the costs of drugs.
- A micro tax should be levied on every banking & financial transaction conducted at every level of the USA, from ATM Machines right up to Wall Street, with the revenue used to reduce the debt and raise up the lower & middle classes.
- The US Federal Government is better at investing than the private sector: After all, America won WWII, landed men on the moon, built the nation’s highways, and electrified the country, among other things. Private Corporations gave us the housing crisis, high oil prices, and the savings and loans scandal, among other things.
- Citizens United is a tool for the Conservative Right and the Koch Bros. to “buy” elections: Corporations are NOT individuals!
- While Corporations are not individuals, they should still be “patriotic” and structure their business models to ensure the success of America and the well-being of all Americans.
- Socialism is not a “failure” when countries like Sweden and Denmark clearly show that it can be successful.
Of course, all this “free education” came at a price, that being I could barely get a word in edgewise: It seems some of the ones I talked to were almost overwhelmingly vocal. Every attempt to provide an alternate view, piece of factual information, or nod to another candidate was interrupted with accusations of ignorance or the label of “Conservative”. (In fact, the best retort I’ve heard from one in a group of self-described “Bernbots” was “Listen to him all you want, because in forty years his generation* will die along with all their Conservative ways.” I wonder if Mao Zedong’s dad ever heard this? Probably not.)
Barely able to “give” in this “give-and-take” situation I decided to “take” some more “free educating” by asking them a few questions. None of the (admittedly few) Sanders supporters I talked to could:
- explain the difference between Socialism and Communism (Basically, in Socialist economies the government owns businesses responsible for basic goods & services – such as utilities – while in Communists economies the government owns all means of production)
- pick a reasonable upper limit to the number of illegal/legal aliens allowed into the USA (3 Million? 12 Million? More? Less?)
- determine a “reasonable” tax rate percentage, describe what constitutes “fair” taxation, or define an upper limit to who could be taxed, what could be taxed, and by how much. (Hint: Here’s one way to determine a “reasonable” tax rate.)
- comprehend that Companies do not pay taxes (it’s built into the price of their goods/services and paid by the consumer)
- believe that a *74 year old man who (a) claims to be a Socialist but has spent more money campaigning than either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, (b) claims to be Democratic but has gotten more delegates from caucuses than individual votes, (c) proposed a single-payer health care system in his home state of Vermont that would have bankrupted the state, and (d) has a wife who actually bankrupted a Liberal Arts college might some how be good at running an entire country.
So, while almost half of America’s Democrat Primary Voters are working to make history, I hope many of them (or at least some of the ones I tried to speak with) take pause to remember some history: It took generations for people in countries like China, India, and the Soviet Union to learn that in reality “Democratic Socialism” is neither “democratic” (the “Ruling Class” remains in power, sometimes through inheritance – like North Korea) nor “Socialist” (all Socialist countries still have those rich “1-percenters” – China, for example). They’ve even realized this to more painful effect – and in shorter time – in smaller countries like Haiti, Cuba, Greece, North Korea, nearly every eastern European ex-Soviet satellite country, and more recently Venezuela. As I’ve written before, Capitalism certainly has it’s problems, but when it comes to economic systems it’s the best “-ism” there is.
Thanks for reading!