Commentary

Scontras: The Problem With Bernie Sanders’ Revolutionary Rhetoric

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I watched the speech that socialist-cum-Democrat nominee Bernie Sanders delivered to a packed house in Portland last week.  At many points, it seemed Sanders was channeling his inner Catwoman from the recent film, “The Dark Knight Rises.”

The fictional city of Gotham, not unlike the actual city of Portland, was always in various stages of financial and political decay.  Just as Sanders described current-day America in his speech, joblessness and incarcerations were high in Batman’s Gotham.  Corruption and cronyism ran amok, giving rise to a criminal-political class which demagogued wealth and promised a new and just society, if only they could wrest control from the plutocracy.

At one point before the fall of Gotham, Catwoman, played by Anne Hathaway, whispers to Bruce Wayne, “There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.”  In reality, the modern day U.S. is nowhere near the nadir that Gotham reached in the film, but listening to Sanders, you might think it was.  Near the beginning of his remarks, the Senator shouted to the Portland contingent of socialist sympathizers, “Your greed has got to end and we are going to end it for you!”

Whether in fictional Gotham City or 1917 St. Petersburg, Russia, such words should never be used lightly, as they are loaded with implications about government control and central planning.  This is especially true when emanating from the mouth of someone seeking the highest office in the land.  That Sanders’ words were received with thunderous applause should give all reasonable people pause.

It seems particularly odd that Sanders’ message would resonate in states like Maine and Vermont, Sanders home state, where progressive policies have been tried for decades with no positive results, especially for young people.  Admittedly, Maine and Vermont have experienced progressive growth in one regard:  They’ve gotten progressively worse!

Nary a wealthy, year-round resident remains in these two pillars of New England, but the same scapegoating of the rich remains the common progressive refrain.  Maine is one of the oldest states, one of the most heavily taxed states, and one of the poorest states.  It seems even more strange that, after seven years of progressive policies coming down from the national level, and by Sanders own admission, real unemployment is closer to 10 percent than the 5 percent touted by the Obama Administration, that Sanders can sell this rotten fruit with a straight face.  I can only conclude that Sanders is suggesting Obama hasn’t gone far enough!

But, as liberalism is inclined to do, it will never admit failure and will only grope for more, even as it collapses around itself.  That’s precisely why Sanders’ barnstorming is considerably more dangerous than his progressive predecessors.  He does this, remarkably, even as Gotham crumbles around him due to the very same policies he professes.

There is no better example of the ever-expansive state of liberalism and its inevitable, cataclysmic effects than modern day Greece.  One would think that, after decades of political promises, overly-generous benefits, handsome pensions, and greater state control, Greeks might re-evaluate their system and come to the conclusion that perhaps a free market, high growth economic model would remedy their problems.  Yet, amazingly, there are many in Greece, young folks in particular, who believe the government has not gone far enough.

This hardheadedness was in full view during an interview on CNBC last week.  As explained by the Media Research Center, “The CNBC reporter challenged a protester to explain why he thought communism would work now, given its failure in countries like the USSR and Cuba. He responded by blaming the communist “bureaucratic elite” for taking power “back from the people.” “It’s not that communism is inherently flawed. It’s that the bureaucrats ruined it,” said the protestor.  Sanders’ candidacy hopes to hasten the nation’s leftward lurch.

In response to Catwoman’s remark about the approaching storm, Bruce Wayne responded, “You sound like you’re looking forward to it.”  After seeing the raucous reception to Bernie Sanders in Portland, it would appear that many are, indeed, very much looking forward to it.

About Dean Scontras

Dean Scontras was the Republican candidate for Congress in 2010. In the time since, he has returned to work in information technology in the private sector. He continues to write columns for various publications and make various media appearances to discuss local and national politics.

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