What Bernie Sanders Supporters Taught Me

Bernie 2016 Round Logo 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:

  • 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.
  • 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)

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!

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