Lee Edwards: A major threat to our economy – Socialism is a clear and present danger

A perilous possibility now confronts us — the conversion of America, the leading capitalist nation in the world, into a socialist state. Impossible, you say? Consider the following.

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The national polls continue to show that a large majority of millennials have a favorable view of socialism. A near majority favor the “compassion” of socialism over capitalism which, they argue, is indifferent to the needs of the people, especially those on the bottom rung of the economic ladder.

Avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and the equally “progressive” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., continue to run strong in the presidential primaries; their combined support is close to 40% among Democrats polled. (Sanders, 78, suffered a heart attack a week ago but told reporters this week that while his campaigning may be scaled back he is still running strong in his bid for the Democratic nomination and the White House.)

Younger Americans cheer their promises of universal health care and free education, while brushing aside the proposals’ trillion-dollar price tags.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) support government ownership of industries whose products are viewed as “necessities” (railroads, coal mines, social media, who knows?). They say that, to the greatest extent possible, government should “democratize” private businesses — that is, give control of them to workers.

“Socialism,” says a member of DSA’s national steering committee, “is the democratization of all areas of life, including but not limited to the economy.” So much for the Declaration of Independence and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We must acknowledge that the Great Recession of 2008 tore a huge hole in the American people’s faith in capitalism as the way to a better life and sent them looking for alternatives. Many of them, especially younger Americans, found it in a “soft socialism” that was part welfare state, part administrative state, part socialist state.

Would a majority of millennials choose socialism if in exchange for “free” education and “free” health care, they would have to give up their personal property such as their iPhone and their iPad?

What is to be done?

We must educate the rising generation about the true costs of socialism, and not just in dollars and cents. Would a majority of millennials choose socialism if in exchange for “free” education and “free” health care, they would have to give up their personal property such as their iPhone and their iPad? This is not simply a possibility -- the abolition of private property is the first dictum of socialism.

Would 7% of millennials be willing to accept communism with its denial of free speech, a free press and free assembly? How about the imprisonment and often execution of dissidents? No open elections? No independent judiciary or rule of law? The dictatorship of the Communist Party in all matters and on all occasions?

Is a world without freedom, without choice, without basic human rights the world that millennials would really willingly choose?

This is our challenge: to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about socialism — a pseudo-religion grounded in pseudo-science and enforced by political might.

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This is our obligation to this generation and generations to come: to make the case against socialism, a god that failed, a science that never was, a political system headed for the ash heap of history.

Historian Lee Edwards, Ph.D., is the Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought at The Heritage Foundation’s B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics.