One professor understands the rise of Bernie Sanders in 2016 as illustrative of a broken education system.
“The enthusiasm of our youth for the candidacy of Bernie Sanders is a symptom of our failure to educate them, not only in history, government and economics, but also basic morality,” University of Oklahoma Professor David Deming wrote for NewsOK.
The Sanders campaign has reinvigorated the calls for socialism in the United States, a position that is tone-deaf in what the economic system has wrought in the past and the present.
“If government has the power to redistribute wealth, it will always act in the interests of the powerful segments of society. What made America great is not progressive government, but the genius and industry of a people freed from arbitrary power by the chains placed upon government by our Constitution,” Deming wrote.
A lack of knowledge about the Cold War and the realities of socialism drives the Sanders appeal. Millennials are the only group to view socialism more favorably than capitalism. And Democrats rate socialism and capitalism equally. A budding entrepreneur might exist in every millennial socialist, but the youth votes and rallies on promises, not effects. That benefits Sanders, even if the reality of his policies would swing many millennials into opposition.
Regardless of platitudes about “democratic socialism,” or the “socialism with a human face” briefly attempted in communist Czechoslovakia, socialism in practice tends to mirror the current predicament in Venezuela.
“The misery caused by socialism is unfolding today in Venezuela. Since Venezuela embraced socialism in 1999, poverty, crime and corruption have all increased. Grocery shelves are empty and the annual inflation rate is estimated to be as high as 200 percent,” Deming noted.
A 1960s Marxism has a certain draw to it because it appears different. Add in his charisma and authenticity, and millennials can embrace him as a cranky-if-truthful grandfather as the leader of a “political revolution.” The myopia, however, is worrisome. As Deming put it, “a society based on freedom and trading promotes good will and civility. Our free-market system has produced the greatest prosperity in human history. There are no property rights under socialism.”
A Sanders presidency couldn’t deliver on its promises for a political revolution, but its shifting of the political zeitgeist away from individual rights and markets to government centralization and expansion could present a longer-term threat. When a politician speaks to an ignored populace, they can gain support, regardless of the merits in the proposed policies.