We don’t have the final count from the Nevada caucus as this is being written, but we have preliminary results that indicate socialist Bernie Sanders swept almost half the field in last Saturday’s Democratic show of candidate support. I admit I was surprised by this, having seen Marxism at work on the ground and doubting it could ever come to pass in America.
Sanders would tell you he is a democratic socialist, not a Marxist. That means, we are told, that what he wants for us is not the hard-core communism that he praises in Cuba, Venezuela, or the former Soviet Union. He wants, rather, a gentler form that does not require a revolution, but is instead instituted through a democratic ballot. Think Sweden or Denmark, he tells us, prompting experts who know both countries (including Sweden’s prime minister) to reply that both countries abandoned socialism more than a decade ago. They did so because it was not working, and because their economies were stifled.
What makes that interesting is that we see the same results in other nations who have decided to follow this extreme left-wing brand of politics. The Soviet Union was the world’s example, showing others how it was to be done and fomenting revolution in Africa, Asia, South America and even close to home in eastern Europe. When I was in high school in the late 1950s the Soviets seemed to be unstoppable, and it was believable they would win the Cold War and be the example other countries would follow.
Sanders believed that then and he continues to believe it now, nearly 30 years after the fall of the Soviet Union. He continues to talk about a revolution and promises to take money from the wealthy and distribute it to the poor in the country. It is a political philosophy that failed in the last century and is being abandoned in countries where it is not propped up by tyrannical governments, as is the case in Cuba, Venezuela and China, for example. And this is what Bernie wants for us, and what Nevada Democrats caucused for overwhelmingly.
Two thoughts come to mind when I contemplate Bernie’s win in the Silver State last week. One is that a candidate can gain a lot of support by promising free stuff. This has been an important part of Bernie’s campaign: promising free university, free health care for everyone, and an open border. This last feature is important for many members of the culinary workers union, whose support apparently played a large part in Bernie’s win. Curiously enough, many of those union members could lose health care coverage if Bernie’s policies were put into effect, so one supposes the expectation of open borders was sufficient to overcome the threat of losing union health care.
The other thought that comes to mind is “where did all those Bernie supporters come from?” We still don’t have final results on the number of caucus-goers who supported each candidate, so we cannot tell if the numbers make sense. But given Nevada’s same-day registration, I might wonder (if I were a conscientious working journalist) how many of the Bernie caucus supporters were Republicans who changed party affiliation so they could participate in last week’s caucus, either to skew the results in favor of a candidate they think will be easier for Trump to beat, or to force the Democrats to face up to their socialist tendencies. Given the fact that most of our national journalists today are actually Democrat partisans, I don’t expect any serious investigation like this. But it would certainly make an interesting study if one were so inclined.
Fred LaSor lives in the Carson Valley.