The politics and policies of socialism and capitalism are significant issues in the presidential campaign of 2020. As might be expected, the interpretations and applications of those topics differ between Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives, moderates, academics, the media, and voters.

Democrat presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, tutors young voters and his supporters on the virtues of socialism, a philosophy he has supported for decades. Bernie honeymooned in the former Communist Union of Soviet Socialist Republic with its genocide and gulags. Sanders still finds virtue in the totalitarian Cuban dictatorship of the Castro brothers who, he has claimed, “expanded literacy” and had a great “health care system.” Bernie generally seems to ignore the dictatorial controls and executions that secured the regime.

On China, he insists the Communists “lifted millions out of poverty,” while overlooking the introduction of limited capitalism that fueled the economy of the People’s Republic. Bernie doesn’t attempt to explain contemporary socialist Venezuela’s plunge into dictatorship and poverty despite its huge petroleum supplies. Sanders does not discuss the socio-economic and productivity and life-style differences between Communist North Korea and the Western economy and freedom of South Korea.

The Vietnam Communist genocide and the millions of people executed in the killing fields of Cambodia also seem to escape Sanders’s historical attention. But Bernie’s promises of free higher education and medical care seduces young college students and millennials whose studies evidently have not included rigorous, objective courses in comparative global geography and history. The history they have been exposed to is, in my opinion, saturated with anti-American and European history in the name of a claimed cross-cultural and allegedly nonjudgmental objectivity that requires criticism of America. but no other nations and cultures.

Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador in the Trump administration, wrote an exemplary column in the Wall Street Journal in February, advising Americans, “This is no time to go wobbly on Capitalism.” Haley chides Sanders for insisting Scandinavia socialism solves all problems. However, as Haley observes, Sweden and Denmark have mixed economics where capitalism and its associated freedom dominates and is productive in an admittedly high tax environment.

The advances of Western civilization compared to the hunger, misery, and poverty of so many Third World “emerging” nations are obvious, but to study and analyze the cross-cultural differences is to commit the sins of ethnocentrism, nationalism and intellectual elitism.

Haley claims “America has lifted up more people and unleashed more prosperity than any other nation in human history.” Capitalism has fostered a cleaner environment and more health and wealth than socialism and communism, Haley insists,” while socialism fosters a political and economic system where government and bureaucrats “control your life, property, money, and religion.”

Mr. Sanders is a millionaire socialist with three homes, decrying the evil rich people. He promises Americans free stuff which ostensibly would save them money, while not revealing that his wealth redistribution schemes would be supported by confiscatory taxation.

When and if confronted with those assertions, what would Bernie and his supporters say?

If taught these truths in economics, history, political science, and economic geography classes, what would students, and for that matter, their progressive instructors say?

The Democrat Establishment wants Bernie gone. Former vice president Joe Biden is the surviving Democrat candidate. Biden’s surprising recovery after the South Carolina primary, and his Super Tuesday victories, while a weakened Sanders is still in the race, indicate Democrat moderates have rejuvenated “Sleepy Joe.”

The Milwaukee Democrat convention before the November presidential election will determine who will face President Trump in November. The Trump economy looms large, as do his foreign policy successes. Democrats will have to show how their policies will be better for America than Trump’s. The voters will decide.

Listen to Tom Ostrom every Tuesday and Thursday during Rochester Today with Andy Brownell from 11 a.m. until noon on News-Talk 1340 KROC-AM and 98.9 FM. 

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