In recent weeks, several national polls show that Vermont Independent Senator, and self-prescribed socialist, Bernie Sanders is surging up the New Hampshire primary race polls. Most polls show Hillary Clinton at 44%, while Bernie Sanders has risen to a surprising 32%.
Although many question whether Sanders can beat or even compete with the Clinton political machine, the surge illustrates a possible shift in the Democratic Party.
One thing is certain, the Democrat Party is moving further left and now actively courts socialism as a preferred form of government. Over the past 7 years, under the Obama administration, the party has accepted numerous policies that, when broken down, resemble the fundamental ideals of socialist theory.
For the purpose of this article, I am using the definition of socialism described in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which states that socialism is “a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies”.
For example, let’s examine President Obama’s tax policy. President Obama has stated through various speeches that the top 1% of income earners in the United States do not pay their fair share of taxes, and that the burden is laid too heavily on the middle and lower class Americans to foot the bill. One could surmise that the President believes that increased taxes on this top tier of wealthy citizens is a fair economic policy.
Similar economic blueprints can be seen when looking at socialist countries like Denmark. Lars Christensen wrote, in a Forbes article, that a majority of Danish politicians intuitively believe that capitalists are an unpleasant necessity to generate the revenues to fund the social welfare state.
One can see by looking at IRS data, from 2009, that the top 1% of income earners in the U.S. paid 39% of all federal income taxes. The Obama administration’s counterargument to this is that the top 1%, along with paying the largest percentage of federal income taxes, owns the majority of the nation’s wealth.
Some argue that President Obama has continued to target the top 1% regardless of how fairly or honestly they made their money. The President has been persistent in his belief that no such income gap should exist in the U.S., and has attempted to curb the gap via increased taxation of the wealthy to provide for increased social programs for the many, in a ‘trickle down wealth’ strategy. The President ran on this belief in 2008, and again in 2012 with all-in support from the Democratic party.
So, when a self-proclaimed socialist Senator from Vermont is a rising figure in the early polls should we really be surprised?
The next question we should be asking ourselves is, what this means for America? Does the Democratic Party truly think that socialism is a viable and sustainable political system for the United States.
A look at Greece and their current financial, political, and social systems may head a grave warning at first glance, especially with the recent intense media coverage.
However, there are several other countries that have seemingly, and arguably, successfully, adopted socialist policies.
Countries such as Denmark, Finland, Sweden, China, Belgium, and Canada have all implemented socialist programs such as universal healthcare and education programs. Canada was even ranked by the United Nations as one of the top-five best countries to live in based on their ranking in the Human Development Index (HDI).
The reality still remains that socialism has seen both successes and failures when implemented. The debate will persist as to whether or not it is sustainable here in the United States.
The conservative base will continue to resist these socialist reforms. Capitalism has seen great success here in the United States and many of these nations that possess socialist policies also utilize a free market economic system to fund their social programs.
Margaret Thatcher once embodied the conservative belief when describing what often times happens to socialist countries when she stated “They always run out of other people’s money”.
Perhaps Bernie Sanders will continue to rise in the polls and compete with Hillary Clinton or perhaps his presidential run will sputter-out in the next few months.
Regardless of his success, it is apparent that socialist policies, such as those endorsed and proposed by Bernie Sanders, will continue to populate the democrat party for election cycles to come.