By Randy Harrison
Socialism is appealing because it seems compassionate. It seems altruistic and geared to the better part of our humanity. It’s the political equivalent to the Robin Hood myth. Capitalism seems self serving and laced with greed. So, why wouldn’t anyone chose socialism?
Here’s why. It fails every time. Meanwhile, capitalism keeps winning.
It is incomprehensible that anyone today would defend socialism as an economic and political system. The results are utterly predictable, and Venezuela is now the latest example.
Venezuela is a major economy. It has the largest proven oil reserves in the world — more than the U.S. It is capable of growing enough food to feed itself and export even more. Ford and General Motors have a long history of manufacturing there. The population is well-educated, and the major cities are bright and shiny.
Not anymore. The country has now collapsed. Shelves are empty, and people are starving. The money is in hyperinflation. Oil is barely flowing. Ford and General Motors are gone. Why? Because Venezuela embraced socialism — communism, really — in 1999. Now, people riot daily and the Associated Press reports that more than 1,000 have died by government action.
Things are likely to become worse before better, and they are bad now. Unfortunately, we in the U.S. are hardly in a place to shake our heads. For 50 years, we have slowly slid toward socialism. The trend is inexplicable in light of historical examples. In the past decade, that slide has become an avalanche. Obamacare is only the most obvious example.
Socialism seeks to centralize power for the sake of control, but centralized control is fundamentally un-American. The U.S. Constitution is designed to limit our central government. America is a federal system by design, meaning that power is purposely decentralized. Yet, more and more power goes to Washington, along with our money — a socialist tendency. Why our state governments acquiesce to this is a mystery.
Federalism should be one of those ideas that is embraced by both Democrats and Republicans. It is what makes us American, but it seems to be forgotten by both now. We don’t even use the word.
With ample historical examples of the failure of socialism and the clear success of American federalism, does the current path of our politics make any sense? No, and, while the average Joe on the street may not be able to articulate the wrong-headedness, he feels it at a gut level. It is intuitive, and at some point, no amount of flim-flam will convince him otherwise. That point was reached in 2016.
It is this intuitive sense of wrong-headedness in our political leaders that gave rise to the tea party and to Donald Trump. I’ve read 20 articles at least speculating about why Hillary lost and Trump won.
To me, the answer is that on a gut level people just know we need to change our direction in America. Really change it. Trump was the choice for change as Obama was in 2008.
It is likewise my opinion that a growing population of black people understand this trend and will result in a realignment of the black vote. Black people no longer constitute a single voting block. At some point, they will align with the political party that reduces their taxes and provides greater economic and educational opportunity for their families. This is exactly the same choice that any ethnic group faces.
Which party wins those votes is up for grabs. That is the lesson to take from the most recent election and the political party that applies the lesson will win. We do not want to be Venezuela.