Judd Gregg: Sanders fans are blind to reality of socialism

Judd Gregg: Sanders fans are blind to reality of socialism
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We have now been through more than half of the Democratic primaries to choose that party’s presidential nominee.

In over forty percent of those contests, a socialist, Bernie SandersBernie SandersPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks Sanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan MORE, has been the winner. This is an exceptionally strong statement about where a significant percentage of the Democratic “base” is, and where the party is headed.

One has to wonder how the party of Kennedy, Truman and Roosevelt ended up here.


It is especially interesting that the primary drivers of this shift are college-age voters and their mentors on the left who teach them.

In college town after college town, Sanders turns out huge crowds, chanting his name and exalting his causes: the redistribution of wealth and the destruction of those deemed to be undeserving of their economic success.

Remember, President Kennedy was the first supply-sider of the post-World War Two period, cutting tax rates dramatically. President Franklin D. Roosevelt bounced socialists, who were extremely active in Depression-era politics, from his administration. President Truman expressed outright dislike and disdain for the socialist movement with his usual bluntness.

Now large segments of the Democratic Party are embracing with gusto the socialist creed as carried forth by Sanders — and at a less dramatic level by the likes of Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenMisguided recusal rules lock valuable leaders out of the Pentagon Biden's soft touch with Manchin, Sinema frustrates Democrats Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE of Massachusetts.

There is clearly deep frustration and anger within much of country. Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE and Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe CDC's Title 42 order fuels racism and undermines public health Ocasio-Cortez goes indoor skydiving for her birthday GOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema MORE (R-Texas) have rallied it on the right. But they are not suggesting a radical departure from the economics that have raised this country up as the most prosperous nation in the world. Actually, they do not seem to have any articulated strategy, just verbosity.

Democrats following Sanders, on the other hand, are proposing a fundamental break with our market-based economic system. They are proposing a completely different course by promoting socialism.

It is an interesting choice. Socialism is one of those ideas that has great theoretical attractiveness but a record of massive practical failure. The devastation — not just economic but also in terms of human suffering — that has been wrought in the name of the greater good of a socialist system is staggering.

When so many young people express so much enthusiasm for the idea of socialism and want to try it again, you have to wonder if they have ever been taught the history of the twentieth century.

One suspects that the same faculty members who dance in the streets with them for Sanders may be culprits in failing to mention the horrors brought on by socialism in every nation that aggressively embraced it during the last century.

These students may wish to turn to historical sources and study recent efforts to create socialist economies and societies. The lessons are clear, so this research will not take long.

They might start with the experience of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Notice the name. Or the National Socialist movement called Nazism. Notice the name again. Or Maoist China, a socialist state again in name. Millions of people died under these banners of socialism and millions more were impoverished.

If those examples seem too extreme, try some of the countries that have pursued socialist government while still remaining somewhat democratic.

Greece comes to mind. It has seen a massive reduction in the standard of living after years of socialist, democratic government. You can also add in Portugal, Spain and, to a significant degree, France. All of these nations have suffered at the hands of socialist leadership that has fundamentally undermined their standard of living.

In the Americas, Venezuela and Argentina are two nations blessed with an incredible abundance of natural resources and wealth. Both, in the not too distant past, were economically vibrant. They are now suffering massive reductions in the standard of living of their people.  

The list goes on and on. Country after country, where the demagogues of class warfare and “something for nothing” economics have sold their bill of goods to a frustrated electorate, has seen not only a drop in its standard of living, but in many instances peoples’ freedoms and lives destroyed.

Our schools and their history faculties clearly skipped over all this while imparting knowledge that would purportedly help students evaluate the best economic and political course for our nation.

It appears the focus must have been on how uniquely unjust America is. Or perhaps on how unfair our form of market economics, built on individual risk-taking and entrepreneurship, has been to our people.

People like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Howard Schultz and Bill Gates are all massive job creators. They all give America a unique economic edge in a competitive world. And they are all products of America, and our market economy.   

Try to find such opportunity or such prosperity in a socialist nation. It does not happen.

Maybe what needs to be fixed is not our market economy but our educational system. It skips over teaching the historical and undeniable failures of socialism and thus leaves our students totally unprepared to evaluate whose ideas will work best in leading our nation and improving our quality of life.

Judd Gregg (R) is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee.