No, Conservatives, Biden's Rise Is Not a Victory against Socialism
Far too many voices on both the right and left are arguing that Joe Biden's recent success is a repudiation of Marxism.
This is so fantastically wrong that it is a little surprising how often we're seeing and hearing it this week.
Ben Shapiro argued that Democrats "will rally around the banner that is anti-President Donald Trump — but Biden isn't an anti-American communist, and his nomination won't mean the deepening of Sanders' vile worldview" and that "Republicans and Democrats should both celebrate Sanders' precipitous fall. It means that perhaps we still have something in common after all: opposition to a radical philosophy that sees America as a nefarious force in the world and sees constitutional principles as oppressive hierarchical dominance."
This is a bad take. A Biden presidency would do plenty to advance Sanders's vile worldview and further damage constitutional principles.
James Carville gushed that Jim Clyburn saved the Democrat party, which in the short term may very well be true. He could also have credited Elizabeth Warren, who pulled double duty by both destroying Mike Bloomberg and sticking around on Super Tuesday to pull in votes that would have likely been destined for Sanders.
These views that Marxism was somehow repudiated are dangerously naïve, misread what happened, and underestimate just how much that radical Marxist philosophy has already shaped the Democrat party.
Bernie Sanders came within an eyelash of becoming the nominee of a major political party despite being an avowed Marxist with a long record of pouring praise on history's vilest regimes. He did it while running under the worst possible conditions for a Marxist. A scorching hot economy improving the lives of nearly all Americans does not create fertile ground for a Marxist revolution.
He also did it while running as a very old, health-challenged, and not particularly charismatic standard-bearer in a party with a strong allegiance to identity politics.
Finally, he did it in a year where nearly every Democrat was clamoring to find the most electable candidate, which served as a net drag on his candidacy. On top of that, he spectacularly self-sabotaged by blowing kisses to Fidel Castro, practically rule number one on the "don't" list for remaining a viable candidate in politics due to the importance of Florida.
Yet without massive and ruthless Machiavellian establishment interference at the last possible moment where it would actually make a difference, Sanders would have carried at least a plurality of delegates into the convention.
That is the sign not of an ideology on life support but of one that is very much ascendant. A society's move to Marxism is typically more a process than a singular event, and Sanders's setback amounts to little more than a bump in the road.
Sanders's success in 2016 was the canary in the coalmine. A lot of people shrugged it off, assuming that his success was more attributable to the sheer awfulness of his political opponent. Anyone harboring those beliefs saw them dispelled in 2020.
The increase in Democrat support for Marxism will likely continue to climb as older Democrats with strong history-created anti-Marxist antibodies are replaced by younger voters indoctrinated to believe that socialism is a wonderful idea.
The rise of the Marxist radicals will produce one of two results. Either it will fracture and split the Democrat party and, in the process, destroy it. Or these radicals will take over the party. The second outcome is far more likely in a party where even the most strident Democrat Sanders critics, such as Carville, admit that they would vote for him over a Republican.
A poll taken this year indicated that 76 percent of Democrats would vote for a socialist. Frankly, that shocking number is probably low, since it does not factor in how someone's view might change in a binary election.
Democrats are terrified of offending this growing wing of their party, which is why Amy Klobuchar, in an attempted Hail Mary pass, was the only candidate to raise her hand at the February 7 Democrat debate when the candidates were asked if they would be bothered if a Democrat socialist represented the party in the general election. Nope. It would be grand. Nothing to see here. Next question.
If the candidates weren't already cowering before their changing base, all the hands would have shot up in a race to be first.
But there is a lot more going on than a simple unwillingness of Democrat candidates to challenge socialism. Every single Democrat is "evolving" to this new reality. This is why these critiques that socialism went down hard are ridiculous. Because of the growing strength of this wing of the Democrat electorate, "moderate" Joe is mostly ordering from the same Marxist menu.
His domestic policy positions generally lead to the same hellish place as Sanders's, which is a government takeover of the health care industry, destruction of the energy sector, open borders, favoring illegal invaders over Americans, implementing massive new taxes, offering full-throated support to abortion under all circumstances, and support for the $90-plus-trillion Green New Deal that is practically a how-to guide on creating a Marxist failed state.
If Sanders were able to put his policies into place, it would lead to societal collapse. But so would Biden's stated policies. Biden is the political version of Wile E. Coyote in that he has raced so far to the left that he is left flailing in open air with nothing but reality waiting below.
He tacked this far to the left not because he believes this nonsense. He went there because the Marxist wing is the animating force in the party. Its impact is seen in every pronouncement and position Biden adopts.
Sanders didn't make Biden and the Democrats more Marxist. He was simply the first candidate to openly ride the rising wave of this movement to national prominence. He won't be the last. Barack Obama rode the same wave, which is why his radical history was shrugged off. He was just less open about it.
The cause at this point is obvious. Academia has been mass-producing Marxists for decades. These Marxists take positions of influence throughout society. They are the smiling elementary school teachers greeting America's kids in the morning and the sinister intelligence agency leaders plotting coups against a duly elected president. They are the script-writers producing the television shows Americans are devouring and the national media representatives preening about democracy dying in darkness.
In other words, they are now everywhere and in complete control of culture and communications, which is why most conservatives, especially on university campuses but also throughout society, self-censor. Conservative thought and speech are largely deemed off-limits in many places.
The best way to address this issue is to ruthlessly and persistently attack the source, which is America's universities. Conservatives need to spend a lot more time focused on this issue, which will admittedly not be easy, since this noxious ideology is now so entrenched. But it is a parasite that will eventually kill the host if ignored.
Conservatives also need to develop far more competing educational institutions that actually encourage and send conservatives back out to become professors and cultural influencers. There are a handful of superb small colleges, such as Hillsdale College in Michigan and Grove City College near Pittsburgh, but they are a drop in a toxic bucket compared to the mammoth influence of broader academia. We need schools like this dotted across every state, which means we also need the professors to fill them.
Conservatives must fight to retake the cultural high ground, or at least to diminish leftist dominance of it, since whoever holds the heights has a massive advantage.
Despite the sighs of relief by some on both the left and right at what is possibly the collapse of Sanders's candidacy, the time to address the problem is running out.
Fletch Daniels can be found on Twitter at @fletchdaniels.