If Bernie Sanders becomes the Democratic candidate for president, Donald Trump will beat him this November. And Trump’s second term will be disastrous for our country and the world.
Sanders becoming the Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 is now a clear possibility. He did very well in Iowa, won in New Hampshire last night, and is ahead in Nevada. And he has lots of money to campaign effectively across the nation.
But Trump would easily defeat Sanders in November. For at least two basic reasons: first, this country will not elect a self-described socialist; and second, his dogmatic commitment to a single payer, government run healthcare system (“Medicare for All”) would be a political disaster this November.
In a campaign with Sanders, Donald Trump will successfully equate socialism with communism. They are already doing that both in Trump’s speeches and national ads on TV.
Academics rightly point out that socialism has two quite different meanings. Historically, Marxists have used the word to mean about the same thing as communism. And all Americans, along with almost everyone else in the world (except the Chinese Communist Party) reject that.
Of course, there is another quite different definition of the word socialism. Many Western Europeans, especially the Scandinavians, use the word to speak of democratic socialism. They mean a democratic political order and an economy where the bulk of the means of production is privately owned, but the government imposes heavy taxes to operate large effective social safety programs.
When Saunders says he is a democratic socialist, he means to identify with this second definition and practice embraced especially in places like Sweden. It is certainly legitimate to debate how large government should be and what programs (e.g. healthcare, education, etc.) government should run and which things should be left to non-governmental entities (churches businesses etc.). But the word socialism has not been a widely embraced word in the United States to describe the view that government should rightly do more, for example, to make health insurance available to all.
It’s true that today more (especially younger) Americans have no problem with the label socialist. But the recent Gallup poll still shows that 51% of Americans believe socialism would be bad for the United States. Only 43% say it would be good. To have the Democratic candidate promote socialism is a losing proposition.
Trump has already equated socialism with communism and labelled the Democrats as “socialist-communists “. Republicans would flood the airwaves and the Internet with millions of ads making that charge. And they would win.
In 2018 the Democrats won because they picked up important support from Independents, suburban white women and a few unhappy Republicans. Democrats need those votes to retire Donald Trump in 2020. But those people will not vote for a self-described socialist.
Another crucial issue. Sanders is also completely committed to immediately adopting a politically disastrous position – – “Medicare for All”. That means telling approximately 160 million Americans who have private health insurance that they must give that up immediately in exchange for a government run single-payer system. That will also help re-elect Donald Trump.
It’s true that health insurance should be available to all. But the Democratic centrists will do that with their promise to make Medicare coverage available to anyone who wants that. Promising that, and guaranteeing that Democrats will preserve crucial parts of Obamacare (for example, companies cannot refuse coverage because of pre-existing conditions) is a winning proposition. Telling 160 million Americans that they must kiss goodbye to their current private coverage is not!
Note: the goal for pro-life Christians must be health insurance for all. Of course we must debate the best way to do that. The Swiss have a system that uses private insurers and covers everyone at much less expense than our current American system. We can also see if, as more and more Americans choose to join Medicare, a single-payer system would become the preference for most Americans. But trying to force that on everyone now is political suicide!
One final point. Of course we must greatly increase support for poorer Americans to attend college. But free college for everyone at public universities is also wrong. For two reasons. First there is no reason why our taxes should provide free college for children of wealthy parents. And second, Sander’s proposal would probably destroy most private Christian colleges. They could not compete with state universities offering free tuition.
My conclusion --in case you have not noticed! Bernie Sanders would be a political disaster in November. The Democrats must – if they want to defeat Donald Trump – – select a candidate that reflects the view of a majority of voters, not the left wing of the Democratic Party . (Whether I think that means Klobuchar, Biden or even Bloomberg, will have to wait for another blog!)
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