Bernie Sanders’ fans are a bunch of clueless fools. They seem to think that the entire world should be free for everyone and no idea who should pay for it. SPOILER ALERT: It isn’t them. Because we have sadly raised a generation that can no longer fend for itself and had everything handed to them. Can we really blame the millennials for thinking and feeling this way?
Not only are young voters more likely to support Democrats than Republicans but they are also more likely to support the most left-wing Democrats. In recent polls of voters under 30, self-declared democratic socialist Bernie Sanders beats the more mainstream Hillary Clinton by almost 6-to-1.
Former professor Mark Pastin, writing in The Weekly Standard, acknowledges some of Clinton’s flaws as a candidate but concludes that “the most compelling explanation” for young Democrats’ overwhelming preference for Sanders “is that young voters actually like the idea of a socialist revolution.”
I’m embarrassed to confess that when I was a young voter, I probably would have been among the “Sandernistas.”
I don’t think Pastin is right about the revolution, though. Much of Sanders’s success in defanging the word socialism is in pairing it, with an emphasis, with democracy, as George Bernard Shaw and the Fabians did in an earlier era. Democratic socialists—at least among my comrades—preferred the idea of evolutionary socialism, and we tried hard to distance ourselves from the revolutionary folks.
Whether by evolution or revolution, however, what we all sought was less competition and more cooperation, less commerce and more compassion. Above all, we wanted greater equality.
“When I asked my students what they thought socialism meant,” Pastin writes, “they would generally recite some version of the Marxist chestnut ‘From each according to ability and to each according to need.’” That sounds about right. But add to that the assumption that it’s government’s job to effect the transfer.
My father, gently skeptical of my politics, pointed out a problem confronting American socialists: We tended to imagine ourselves on the receiving end of the redistribution—rob from the rich and give to the rest of us.
“However poor we may think we are in the United States,” he told me, “we would have to give up most of what we now have in order to make everyone in the world equal.” This was strange to hear from someone always behind on the rent and facing ever-growing debt.
Pastin makes a related point: “I’ve always thought that socialism appealed to students because they have never not been on the receiving end of government largesse.”
As an informal test of his students’ egalitarian beliefs, Pastin “would offer to run the class along socialist principles, such as the mandate to take from the able and give to the needy.” Specifically, he proposed subtracting points from the A students and transferring them to those who would otherwise earn lower grades.
Even the most ardent socialist students balked at this arrangement. In fact, according to Pastin, the highest-performing students were both more likely to be self-declared socialists and more likely to meet his proposal with outrage: Grading, they argued, should be a matter of merit.
Is it pure hypocrisy on the part of these rhetorical radicals, or is there a logical consistency behind this apparent contradiction in their values?
Either way, congrats on coming out of your mom’s basement millennials, even if it is for something as asinine as a socialist like Bernie.