The official “leak” that Senator Bernie Sanders is about to return to the scene of the crime and make another run for the presidency has the nation’s capital all atwitter. Politico, and just about everyone else tuned into U.S. politics, say Mr. Sanders has recorded his “I’m in for 2020” campaign video. And so, the battle of the socialists shifts into high gear, to see who can give the most away.
Panem et Circenses
Sometimes past really is prologue. In 100 AD a Roman satirical poet coined the phrase panem et circenses. Loosely translated this means “bread and games” or “bread and circuses.” Why the circus? Because the plebian masses must have something to divert their attention. Thus, palliatives like food and entertainment have a sedating effect on the multitudes. Of course, this phrase is satirical – it also implies a fundamental witlessness of the people. Give them a little food and fun, and off they trot, ignorant and oblivious to the reality that you can’t get something for nothing.
But that never stopped socialists from peddling their utopian madness. The freebies may have changed, but the principle remains the same. “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine,” is a jocular variant of the socialist cry through the decades that continues even today. Up until now, there has been perhaps no one at the forefront of American politics who is capable of elucidating this rallying call better than the 77-year-old independent senator from Vermont.
Vermont – where the income tax is categorized as “very high.” Where businesses “that pay corporate taxes get hit with an 8.5% rate for any profit made above $25,000.” And all this comes directly from CNN. In short, if you want to make money in Vermont, be prepared to pay now, pay later but above all – pay up.
Pony Up or Else
All of society’s problems, according to Mr. Sanders and friends, can be solved if we just learn to share. If we can’t be taught to allocate a portion of our stuff to others, then, of course, we must be compelled to do so. The premise being that if we were not required to give, no one would. Out of this schoolyard mentality come programs like Bernie’s “Medicare for All.” Bernie Sanders firmly believes that everyone should have everything – until, of course, everyone has nothing. Cue the Venezuela videotape, please.
Still, Mr. Sanders has a sizable, dedicated core of followers. His appeal is based on the image that he is just one of the guys out in the backyard ready to shoot some hoops. But in fact, his political money-grubbing is every bit as active as the big boys – it just comes more frequently and in smaller amounts. Bernie’s website hawks the socialist message on page one: “They have the money, but we have the people.” This seems like a poor joke without the punchline because the people will no longer have their money if Sanders’ socialist dream comes true.
Life in Bernie-land
Born in 1941 in Brooklyn, New York, to Elias Ben Yehuda and Dora Glassberg Sanders, Bernie and his brother Larry were raised in a middle-class home. As a student at the University of Chicago, it seems Sanders had his Pauline epiphany and joined the Young People’s Socialist League, which is essentially the JV team for the Socialist Party of America. The early 1960s – when Martin Luther King, Jr. marched, and Chicago’s Richard Daley reigned – were Bernie’s salad days. While many a flower child flirted with and then abandoned the ethos, Sanders provided all the evidence one needed of his true belief in socialism in 1988 when he and his wife Jane honeymooned in – wait for it – the Soviet Union.
Fast forward to 2019, and not much has changed regarding Mr. Sanders’ worldview. Last month he proposed an estate tax of up to 77% for billionaires that includes a 45% tax on estates valued between $3.5M to $10M. Sanders has plans for just about everything, and they all include taking your money and giving it to others. After all, taxing the rich is a damn good campaign tactic that’s maintained its appeal over the years.
In 2016, the powers that be at the Democratic National Committee were leery of open socialists like Sanders and tilted the scales toward someone they thought could win more broad support from the American public. As a friend recently noted, “Bernie running for president is like a battered wife who keeps going back to the abusive husband. ‘He promises not to hit me anymore. He’s changed.’” And perhaps the DNC has turned over a new leaf and is more comfortable embracing socialism.
The lamentable picture for the Bern is that in a field of almost a dozen candidates running for president, Sanders’ socialism hardly stands out as it did in 2016. In fact, about the only curiosity left for the Vermont senator is that he’s the only white male currently seeking the Democratic nomination in 2020. Whether that’s enough to differentiate him from the horde of socialists remains to be seen.
But the question is whether the American people have altered their mindset and are ready to put their money down on a full-on socialist. If they’re looking for panem et circenses, Bernie’s problem is that there are a whole lot more choices to be had now than when he was the lone foot-soldier for socialism. Now, he’s just another face in the crowd.