The speed with which socialism can take an economy or government from viability to ruin is nothing short of astounding. When socialist regimes have widespread support or a mandate (or perceive that they have one or both), they enjoy the latitude to bring about this destruction even more quickly.
Last weekend, around 3.6 million Brazilians took to the streets to demand that socialist President Dilma Rousseff resign or face impeachment. Both Rousseff and Brazil’s former president – Lula da Silva, another socialist – have been implicated in a $3 billion ripoff of public funds engineered through Petrobras, the state-run oil company.
In Venezuela, another South American socialist paradise, the specter of corruption looms closer to home, with the everyday nightmare of grocery shopping making international headlines on a fairly regular basis these days. Between falling oil prices hobbling the oil-rich nation’s economy and the fact that socialists don’t know how to run anything other than into the ground, Venezuela’s supermarkets are usually empty, or have such long lines that patrons can literally spend an entire day shopping for food.
To add insult to injury, ID cards, birth certificates and fingerprint scanners are the methods by which an intrusive State ensures that only authorized shoppers are purchasing groceries in the right amount, and on the right day. In these state-run supermarkets, food is extremely inexpensive – unfortunately, it’s also extremely scarce. Black market food abounds, but it is ridiculously overpriced – a week’s pay for a steak, by one account.
Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, successor to the late proto-human socialist champion Hugo Chavez, explains away the endemic scarcity with the usual boilerplate leftist bilge: Smugglers who resell Venezuelan goods abroad, thieves and black market operatives have somehow managed to abscond with most of Venezuela’s food.
Tyrants, oligarchs, low literacy and the influence of Soviet-backed communist revolutionaries in the last century led to more popular acceptance of socialism in Latin American nations than in other parts of the hemisphere. In fairly well-developed countries such as Brazil and Venezuela, which began to come into their own economically over the last few decades, citizens have seen a curious trend of economic stultification that can be traced largely to their affinity for electing socialist politicians.
Socialists are cool, you see; they care about people, unlike those me-firster capitalist types. This argument plays well the younger and dumber one happens to be, on any continent.
Not to intimate that people in Latin America are stupid, but in some of these nations, centuries of the aforementioned tyrants and oligarchs maintaining a Napoleonic paradigm of governance deliberately sustained peasant castes and fostered poor education. Rigid class systems and vast chasms between impoverished majorities and entrenched, wealthy dynasties are among the reasons that this region was ripe for the insinuation of socialism and communism.
So, through no fault of their own, many in Latin America were far more susceptible to the con that is socialism than their neighbors to the north. They’re the region’s low information voters, and they were quite receptive to the socialist message, which promised them a way out from under the yoke of the oligarchs. It was an empty promise, but for ascendant socialist regimes, it’s all about securing power. Once that’s done, they renege on their promises and blame the international capitalist community – or smugglers, thieves, and black market operatives – for thwarting their noble designs.
In the United States, and Europe to a lesser extent, socialists simply dispensed with calling it “socialism.” Although Americans retained a healthy fear of communism throughout the 20th century, by the early 1900s, the framework for statism (socialism) was already being laid by monumentally conceited progressive politicians who had decided that their intellect and insight surpassed that of America’s founders. Today, while few of our elected officials would label themselves socialists, nearly all are effectively socialists based on their allegiance to the pantheon of bipartisan oligarchs. They sold phony altruism to the middle class, class envy and entitlements to the disaffected. Politicians threw restraint to the wind and began promising voters everything short of immortality.
While it may not appear so on its face, a rejection of socialism is the central issue of the present election cycle. The anger, outrage and disgust being expressed by voters is in response to pain; after several decades of encroaching socialism, the results of its attendant policies are now placing startling numbers of Americans in real adversity. If I were to make a list, I would probably start with the 96 million people – around half of the American workforce – who are out of work. (To me, this appears to exceed the government’s reported 5 percent unemployment rate, but I’ve never been that good at math).
While the two current GOP front-runners may not be articulating the evils of socialism and detailing how it has brought America to this unenviable juncture, what they are saying speaks to the symptoms, and this is why their words resonate with so many voters.
Last week in this space, I expressed frustration that no one among the GOP field is putting the name (socialism) to our pain. The fact that I am not a campaign strategist aside, I believe that this sorely needs to be done, because too many voters couldn’t even summarize what socialism is if asked. As in Hosea 4:6, Americans “perish for lack of knowledge.”
It isn’t enough to bray about the need to return to constitutional governance; if we are to extricate socialists from government, rank-and-file voters must know how to recognize them, and recognize the con. Only when Americans understand why socialism is antithetical to the rule of law and why it necessarily elicits a putrefactive effect on societies can they implement the necessary measures against it.
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