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Monday, June 17, 2019

A Socialist Takedown of the U.S. Constitution

It is time for America's conservatives and libertarians to realize the real nature of the threat from the left. Using the welfare state, they can destroy what is left of the American constitutional republic. Yes, the welfare state. And it can happen fast, once there is a socialist in the White House.

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A recent alarm-ridden headline on the Drudge Report had Senator Bernie Sanders lead President Trump by nine points in a presidential poll. Nobody should take such polls seriously: as Rush Limbaugh has reminded us, an incumbent president is practically always trailing prospective challengers a year and a half before he is up for re-election. 

What we must take seriously, however, is the threat that socialism presents to the United States of America. This threat is no less ominous than what they experienced in Venezuela - and nobody should be naive enough to think that our Constitution will stand in the way of a full-scale authoritarian socialist takeover. It does not; in fact, as we will see in a moment, it is not that difficult for ruthless, determined socialists to completely replace the U.S. Constitution, and to do it using instruments that no constitutional conservative can be opposed to. 

There is really only one bulwark in the way of a socialist takeover: the 2020 election campaign. In it, the socialist "vision" (really nothing more than a nightmare) stands on more solid opinion ground than perhaps ever before in American history. The fate of our country lies in the hands of those whose political positions give them the power to counter that "vision" with their own. 

It is a grave mistake to dismiss the socialist threat as an opinion fad. For sure, there is a limit to the interest in socialism, in particular as people's incomes get better. This is apparently true even among Millennials. Furthermore, some commentators suggest that when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, support for socialism is in fact rather weak in America. 

It is also true that when asked about actual policy choices people tend to lean in the free-market direction. That said, Republicans are still trying to find the footing for their counter-strategy. They are making some progress - I have heard some good things coming from GOP House Conference Chair Liz Cheney lately and the president promised in his Sarasota speech recently to roll out alternatives to Obamacare - the socialist side is still ahead, and forging ahead.  

Bernie Sanders is a good example. While an unlikely Democrat presidential nominee, he still commands a big following among the left. Therefore, his crusade for "democratic" socialism is to be taken very seriously, and the counter-strategy must be based on the same political campaign method that Sanders uses: talk issues, talk reform alternatives and talk about people's bottom line. 

As we know, the devil is in the details. In this case, it is very much true, as explained in an interesting article by Carl Beijer:
It's usually pretty difficult to get good information about public attitudes towards socialism, but the past month has been a real watershed. First came a Gallup poll that I covered here which asked whether various political concerns should be managed by the government or the free market. Now comes a poll by Axios asking respondents what "a socialist system" means to them. The results, I think, are pretty intuitive, though they also send a mixed message to activists and intellectuals working within the historical socialist tradition.

The answers in the Axios poll are compelling but not very surprising. The percentage of poll responders who associated specific features with socialism varied as one would expect, given that no American under 30 has any living memory of the Soviet Union:
1. Universal healthcare: 76%

2. Tuition free education: 72%
3. Living wage: 68%
4. State-controlled economy: 66%
5. State control and regulation of private property : 61%
6. High taxes for the rich: 60%
7. State-controlled media and communication: 57%
8. Strong environmental regulations: 56%
9. High public spending: 55%
10. Government ’’democratizes’’ private businesses — that is, gives workers control over them — to the greatest extent possible: 52% 
A key finding is that fewer than half of the people polled thought that dictatorship and worker-owned businesses were part of socialism. This should not be taken as a sign that people reject socialism, simply that they differentiate - perhaps just semantically - between socialism and communism. The former would be seen as democratic, while the latter is perceived as a dictatorship. 

If so, the next question is whether or not they understand that socialism inevitably collapses into communism. They probably do not; those in the poll who believe socialism means economic redistribution (items 1-3, 6 and 9 above) may very well have a favorable view of all these policy reforms. If so, they associate the provision by government of these benefits as  form of democracy. 

This is, in fact, precisely the point that Bernie Sanders is trying to drive home: socialism is democratic because it provides single-payer health care, "free" college and cash handouts in the name of "living wage" or "universal basic income". With high voter association of these goodies with socialism and democracy, Democrats like Sanders will do well in 2020, especially in the Democrat primary. 

Sanders is not the only Democrat presidential hopeful who thinks he can sell the whole gamut of socialist snake oil to the American people. As an example of how well these entitlements resonate with many Americans, consider the poll-driven flip-flopping of Mayor Buttigieg on the free-college issue: 

-In April some poll showed a lot of people were against it, so he was, too;
-In May some poll showed a lot of people were for it, so he was, too.

Sanders, of course, has more ideological backbone than the mayor from South Bend. In fact, Sanders is so bold in his beliefs that he just proclaimed "the dawn of democratic socialism in America". 

And right here, we begin tying back to the aforementioned, very serious danger that socialism presents to our Constitution.

It does not take much scratching on the surface before the democratic veneer comes off the Trojan socialist horse and its authoritarian inner is exposed. In fact, according to the Washington Times (print edition, June 13, pp. A1 and A8) the socialist Senator from Vermont suggests
it's time the country moves beyond the liberties enshrined in the Constitution and embraces a new set of human rights promises including free college education, guaranteed jobs and better retirements. 
There is a direct link between entitlements and the way in which socialists would replace our Constitution with their own. The entitlements they want to add will in many cases be run by the states but funded by the federal government. Those funds become a key instrument in how a socialist Congress and President - or just a socialist President - will terminate the foundation of the United States constitutional republic and replace her with a national, parliamentary democracy. 

Socialists generally view the American Constitution as a hindrance to them grabbing and holding on to power. For those who think they could not take down the U.S. Constitution, Venezuela serves as a stark and terrifying example to the contrary. Their pre-socialist constitution was also built on the principles of separate but equal branches of government and checks and balances of power. However, all it took was a president bold enough to ignore the constitution and buy popular support with socialist reforms. 

When now-defunct socialist madman and former president Hugo Chavez met resistance to his socialist agenda from Venezuela's national legislature, he gradually encroached on their constitutional powers, eventually simply replacing the country's existing legislature with a new parliament to his own liking. He also emptied out the country's Supreme Court and filled it with judges to his own liking

Despite his growing grip on power, he was not satisfied. Socialists never are. Chavez even used natural disasters as a pretext to expand his own powers at the expense of the legislative branch. His successor, Maduro, has continued concentrating powers into his own hands, making a mockery of the final remains of anything "democratic" in Venezuela's government.

Socialists prefer dictatorial powers because it makes the implementation of socialist doctrine much more expedient. They see parliamentary democracy as a step on the way toward their favored goal: as I explain in my new book Faith and Freedom: The Moral Case for America (due out later this year) a parliamentary system is far more easily ruled by majorities; they do not grant minorities nearly the same right to resist ideological agendas carried by a popular-vote majority. 

The problem for socialists is that even parliamentary democracies can turn against them, if enough people decide to elect non-socialists to the parliament. Therefore, they put in place stop blocks that will hinder either the rollback of their own agenda, or the election of a non-socialist majority in the first place. The stop-block strategy consists of reforms that are almost impossible to reverse, such as single-payer health care; the preventative measures, such as but not limited to: 
  • Curbing free speech and deeming non-socialist opinions as various forms of morally reprehensible language ("hate speech" is the modern version); and
  • Constitutionally banning both ownership of and advocacy for private property (a popular method in Eastern Europe during its communist era).

The United States is highly resistant to socialist takeovers, but not immune. Our Congress and presidents have already advanced government in so many ways that a socialist president that is savvy enough will be able to follow the Chavez route into authoritarianism. Of all the forms of ignorance of socialism currently prevailing in America, the most dangerous is the one suggesting that socialists cannot take down our Constitution. They can, and they will. 

Here is how they would do it:

1. A socialist president is elected, getting his or her hands on all the formidable powers that the current U.S. president has.
2. This president makes a deal with Congress to expand further the entitlements that states run, but that are paid for partly or entirely by Congress (think Medicaid).
3. Strings are attached to the funds, saying that states that oppose or challenge the president's policies will be countered by the president with withholding of federal funds for all of said programs.
4. A Constitutional Convention is called where states are expected to vote for a new constitution. The states that refuse to endorse the new documents lose their federal funds. 
5. A new constitution goes into effect, ending the American Constitutional Republic and replacing it with a parliamentary system with highly centralized powers. States are reduced to administrative units implementing the will of the new national government. 

There is only one way to prevent this from happening. It has to do with the beginning of this article, namely what people define as socialism. The only way the Republican party can stop this socialist takeover is by 

a) explaining to middle-class America why the entitlements that they associate with socialism are bad, in other words why they should not be provided by government;
b) presenting their alternative solutions; and
c) convincing middle-class America why their solutions are better than what the socialists offer. 

They have to do this for each and every one of the items on the list above. If they do this well, they will decisively beat the socialist agenda in 2020. 

If not...

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