The Perilous Mainstreaming of 'Democratic Socialism'

It has been both shocking and terrifying to observe just how far to the left the Democratic Party has moved. While watching the debates last week, it was abundantly clear how radical both the candidates and their policies truly are.

The once-shunned label of “socialist” is now boldly embraced by many on the left. They believe it to be a fairer system than capitalism. But no one stops to think about what it means to have “free” education for all or “free” health care for all. There was scant mention of how we will pay for all the “free” stuff during the debates.

Last week, Joy Behar targeted conservatives and mocked them by saying that the right is blind to the supposed virtues of “democratic-socialism.” She said that Republicans just don’t understand what the word “socialist” means.

We absolutely understand the big-government, redistributionist agenda they are pushing. That is why we are terrified and alarmed to see how the left has embraced it. Liberals love to talk about “free” stuff, but we Republicans take those impossible promises to their logical conclusion: there is no such thing as a free lunch — someone eventually has to pay for it.

We know that socialism eliminates free markets and does away with free enterprise. We know it doesn’t work — just look at Venezuela, a once-prosperous country that now faces mass starvation due to destructive socialist policies.

But there is something more alarming in what Joy Behar said, and it’s not the first time it’s been mentioned by the left. Bernie Sanders was one of the first to popularize the term in mainstream American politics, and since then it has become a leftist mantra: democratic-socialism.

This is a clever way to ignore socialism’s continued failures. The left can no longer explain away socialism’s epic fails. The word “socialism” is a turn-off to many people. So, Bernie and the others are redefining it. They aren’t talking about “that socialism,” they insist; they’re talking about “democratic-socialism.”

“Democratic-socialism,” however, is just an innocuous-sounding term for the “tyranny of the majority” that the Founders were so anxious to avoid when they wrote the U.S. Constitution.

The first election to allow the imposition of “democratic-socialism” would be the last free election this country would have. After that, it becomes a choice between ham and pork. It’s a trick. “Democratic-socialism” is just a way for politicians to trick you into handing over your freedom in exchange for promises they can’t keep.

This week, we celebrate 243 years of independence. In 1776, the Continental Congress was deliberating over the most momentous political event of all time — 13 colonies were to become the United States of America and undertake a radical experiment in individual liberty and self-government.

Even though the resolution for the Declaration of Independence had already been adopted, there was some hesitation when it came time for the delegates to apply their signatures to the document. When John Witherspoon realized that the delegates were wavering, he stood up and made a passionate speech, reminding them that “there is a tide in the affairs of men — a nick of time we perceive it now before us. To hesitate is to consent to our own slavery.” 

Witherspoon finished his appeal, and the delegates signed the Declaration of Independence. Historians have recorded that many of the men, recognizing the magnitude of what they had just done, openly wept. They knew that they were once slaves to an oppressive government and now they were free.

If the Founders could see us now, would they not weep again? Should it be said of us that we were once free and are now slaves? Our forefathers ran from the tyrannical rule of kings, yet those on the left today seem to be running towards tyranny of a different sort.

Our forefathers’ mission was to secure the liberty of the American people. The founders believed there was potential in every human being, and that the best way to cultivate that potential was through individual liberty.

Tyrannical governments and socialist dictatorships have done nothing to enhance the human condition. The freedom that America has gifted to the world, on the other hand, has raised the baseline of human existence beyond anything ever conceived before.

Of freedom, Thomas Paine wrote; “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”

Like Paine, many of us understand that what we care for most lovingly holds the greatest value for us. If Americans today were asked what we value most to leave as an inheritance for our children, what would that be?

Would it be an antique that’s been passed down for generations, or that sports car in the garage? A lovely home, precious metals, or stocks? Or should we consider something more precious, such as liberty? Isn’t liberty worth any sacrifice to secure as an inheritance for our children and their children?

Our liberty was declared 243 years ago this July 4th by men who pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the cause. Many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence knew they would never fully enjoy the fruits of that liberty. They understood they were doing this for future generations of Americans they would never know. They were doing it for us. We owe them a life dedicated to preserving liberty, not a capitulation to the tyrannical forces of socialism.

Graphic credit: ShannonKringen

Rose Tennent has been a prominent figure for twenty years as a syndicated conservative political talk show host. She is a frequent guest host for Sean Hannity’s Radio Show and has been a regular guest on FOX NEWS and serves on the Executive Board for “Moms for America”. Rose has authored a book called “Thanking Our Soldiers.”