First, a preamble. Political writers often enjoy comparing their opponents to history's monsters whenever they can. This is because the end result speaks for itself. Assuming the comparison is well made, there is no need for further rebuke. The world is already familiar with the results of tyranny so the writer's opinions become as serious as they are valid.
Sometimes this practice is immediately written off by readers who cannot tolerate any such comparison, no matter the merit. And many times there is no merit to begin with. Here we will recognize that it is useful to conduct these comparisons so long as they are valid.
We also recognize that comparisons do not imply greater misconduct. For instance, comparing Hillary Clinton to Joseph Stalin does not imply that Hillary has killed millions of people, any more than it implies she wears a mustache, smokes cigars or lives in Moscow. One must follow the central context, no more, no less.
In elections, whoever first defines the topics gains a comfortable position to campaign from. Topics determine talking points, media reactions, debate subjects, and ultimately what is right or wrong to the voter. In wartime, the most important issue is already defined, so replacing it with something else is not easily done.
For the 2008 election, neither political party can stop the war in Iraq from being the central issue. Each side will have to settle for coming up with a decent set of lesser topics that appear relevant. Currently, this is more difficult for Republicans as the citizenry is decidedly against the war.
As part of Bill Clinton's "corporate responsibility" agenda in 1992, he proposed tax credits for companies that invested in new business ventures. Of course, he planned on funding this by taxing the wealthy, and no one expected otherwise. But at least he made the effort of appearing to respect the market place.
Where the Democrats of the 1970s and 1990s courted centrists and conservatives by intertwining their plans with the global economy, the current Democratic leadership has taken a decidedly different approach.
Several months ago, Obama beat his competitors out of the healthcare gate when he offered a full nationalized plan to "lower costs and ensure health for all". Short on details, the plan reads like a sugary wish-list for the poor and lower middle classes. As for paying the bill, we are only left to assume that modernizing the system will discount everything so heavily as to produce profits on the $2 trillion spent now. Never mind the government's other ridiculous attempts at modernization. The plan also promises to reduce medical bureaucracy, and it will do so by joining forces with Medicaid and SCHIP. That part is likely to work. Efficiency in government can always be improved by sacrificing oversight.
At the last Take Back America Conference, John Edwards claimed that "the federal budget is a moral document for ending poverty". It was discovered at the same time that Edwards used various corporate loopholes to avoid a good deal of his own income tax. Evidently, the "moral document" had to find its funding from other taxpayers.
Asked about Social Security in February, Edwards suggested that we simply eliminate the income cap and use "those tools that are available to us". Edwards must have been referring to the top 2% who already pay the majority of the tax burden. "Tools", indeed. In the 2004 election, Edwards made the infamous claim that anyone who made more than $200,000 per year was rich and didn't pay their fair share.
Two months ago, Hillary Clinton casually mentioned that the country was too "ownership society" for her taste. She pledged to increase prekindergarten programs, union encouragement (whatever that means), college aid and, of course, national health care. After all, it takes a village, and those aren't cheap.
The second and third tier Dems are no different.
In April, Joe Biden insisted that the government should force every US automobile to be flex fuel and every gas station to pump 10% ethanol by 2009. That's less than 18 months from now. In March, he said that the middle class only existed in America because of unions. He insisted that tort, courtrooms and organized labor are "the only things standing between the giants and average people".
Dennis Kucinich has always been eager to saddle the market with as much regulation as it can bear, and then add some more. After Enron imploded, he immediately proposed that "the Democratic Party must become the party of re-regulation, of public control, of public power". Kucinich also proudly claimed that we should "end all privatization" because it "sells government to the lowest bidder". Later he displayed an equally-abysmal economic perspective by saying health care was broken because "competition drives up profits". He followed this by insisting that the US should break up all large companies because they are all monopolies.
The combination of these two things is a very odd arrangement. Kucinich's ideal economy is a series of small companies which are restricted from merging, growing or competing. Perhaps his administration will instruct each citizen which products they may consume so that all small businesses are equally frequented.
Chris Dodd's health care plan not only covers every American citizen but all of our guests from below the border. He does not seem to realize that millions more illegals would be incentivized to also gain his fantastic health coverage, and that they could do so by wading across a shallow river and jumping a non-existent fence.
The only Democratic candidate who has not turned into a raving Statist is Bill Richardson. On the other hand, since 1996, Richardson has flip-flopped on a multitude of issues including school vouchers, health care and tax reform. So it's very likely that he'll come around shortly.
All of these new agendas are socialist. That is not startling. What is startling is the reaction, or lack of reaction, displayed in hometown USA. The citizenry genuinely feels comfortable with dismissing hundreds of years of history exulting simple capitalism. Or do they?
The education system is in such massive decay that it can barely keep order, let alone discuss history and economics correctly. The citizenry cannot hold socialism at arms length if they are not told what to hold. Nor will they if it is promoted as reputable. It is no secret that many university professors -- our scholastic elite -- regret the decline of communism and pine for ways in which new hybrids can be successfully implemented.
Most Republicans do not fully understand socialism either. Mark Levin, a conservative writer and talk show host, often refers to the far left as the "Stalinist Left", but that is not completely accurate. Of the many Democratic candidates, only Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden's styles are reminiscent of Stalinism.
The others are more like Lenin who sought to run the management of socialism through the people - true socialism on each end. He wanted the people to be dictators of themselves and their neighbors, hence the creation of local "soviets". He believed that the world could have no borders and must adopt socialism globally or the validity of the system would be diminished by the imperialism of capitalism - and indeed, he turned out to be correct. True Leninism is impossible in small countries because it relies on a set number of industrial parts which small countries can not create by themselves.
The problem with Stalinist and Leninist agendas is that they present multiple contradictions. In order to convince the proletariat of the central cause, religion and nationalism must be removed - both of which the people love. They also require that the people be more thoroughly educated, but an increase in education generally leads to an increase in dissent.
The 2008 candidates and the 2004 candidates have both followed these guidelines precisely. They use religion as pejorative to describe any conservative person or process. Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic Party, repeatedly characterizes the Republican Party as a "Christian party" with a sneering emphasis on "Christian".
It used to be that only far-left extremists would openly discuss wanting the US to have no borders, but that is no longer the case. The 2008 candidates may not directly state this, but their actions say it for them. Outdoing all others, Kucinich went so far in September of 2001 as to vote no on legislation that would increase military border patrols checking for terrorists (fourteen days after 9/11 happened).
John Edwards rambles around like Leon Trotsky, who was caught between his fear of dictating like Stalin and the practical impossibilities of Lenin. Trotsky wanted his policies to work, so he could not embrace Leninism fully. He did not want to become a tyrant, so he could not embrace Stalinism fully.
To account for its failures, socialism has been revised many times and by many people. This is perhaps the greatest evidence against it. Political theories that work need no fixes. Capitalism is as simple today as it was 400 years ago when Capt. John Smith said, "If any man will not work, neither should he eat". Adam Smith, Milton Friedman and others have attempted to explain the greatness of this simplicity, and while our less-brilliant minds may lack their understanding, we can agree on one thing: They did not encourage any wholesale changes.
Democrats have always pushed social programs, but there is a difference between the intentions of the Great Society and the market-bashing entitlement mêlée going on now. The old social programs were stopgaps for massive depression, labor shortages and war losses. They were not intended to grow and, in many cases, were not intended to continue past a decade.
We've all heard of Joseph McCarthy. Liberals turned his name into a synonym for demagoguery. Hollywood continues to paint him as a madman fixated on striking anyone he disliked with the lash of slander and treason. Such malignment is flatly inaccurate. McCarthy started out as a patriot who understood how fast communism can permeate a dissatisfied electorate. In fact, as revealed by Prof. Arthur Hamby's research in the Soviet archives made available after the fall of the USSR, McCarthy's fundamental argument that the American establishment was heavily infiltrated by Communist spies and sympathizers, was the reality.
Ultimately, McCarthy crumbled into paranoia and unsubstantiated accusation, but his goal was true. And, in his day, there were far fewer reasons to cry wolf than there are now.
The wealthy of any nation are always a minority. When the poor and middle classes figure that out, they can vote themselves endless favors. It is possible that the 2008 candidates do not really intend to implement any of the programs they are now proposing. But what would make them hesitate? Congress is used to stealing from the electorate, and the electorate is used to tolerating it.
The gravity of socialist policies is far deeper than the "historical side issue" it has been relegated to. An understanding of socialism -- and its various attempts and results -- must be discussed in every layer of the education system. Otherwise, we are doomed to die from its poison before we even realize it is on our plate.
Will the modern Joe McCarthy please stand up?