When assessing the major threats to the safety and security of our nation the left and right wings of America’s political divide fall into two very different categories.

Those on the left see the growing wealth and power of the 1% as a threat to the very essence of our country, and then they nominated for President a proud member of this exclusive club of millionaires and billionaires.

On the right, conservatives believe radical Islam and Russia are the greatest threats to our national security, and then they nominated for President a man who would ease tensions with Russia and do much to stoke the already blistering hatred of extremist Muslims who declare America their ultimate foe.

Both sides are mistaken.

Of all the lessons we can learn from the 2016 election cycle perhaps the most significant is from the quixotic campaign of Vermont’s own Senator Bernie Sanders. It could be a lesson in selling out as demonstrated by his feeble endorsement of the woman he called unqualified to be President; it could be a lesson in making a hypocrite of oneself as witnessed by his public castigation of capitalism juxtaposed with his private enrichment by it. Both are stark reminders of the reality of politics and money and how easy it is to place faith in persons not worthy of it, which brings me to the most important lesson…

The most important lesson of this election season is the one born out by the adoration Senator Sanders engendered among the ranks of those in the Millennial Generation. Bernie rallied together an army of youths by fixating their short attention spans on an enemy: Not just free market capitalism in general, but more specifically the evil 1% of millionaires and billionaires who have been pirating the wealth of the have-nots to the detriment of the whole nation. Bernie’s promise was to end these perceived injustices and force the misers to “pay their fair share,” whatever that is.

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Not once in any of his tirades did he stop to mention our nation’s wealthiest citizens contribute upwards of 70% of all federal income taxes. Something tells me that would undercut his narrative. Instead he kept his people fired up with promises of free this and free that and all manner of manna from the heavens paid for by… Well, someone else.

Nor has he ever exhibited any understanding that the economy is not a fixed pie, that is, in order to gain it is not necessary for another to lose. And absent from his screeds was any indication that, contrary to his doomsday ravings, the world is actually improving thanks to the opening of markets and largely free trade.

Contrary to the notions of Sanders, and his compatriot the Pontiff, global poverty is on a rapid decline. The infant survival rate is sky-rocketing, access to clean water and sanitation is rapidly increasing as well, and the number of people living in slums has declined to a point unfathomable by our forebears if not for the promise and potential of free enterprise and market capitalism. These are but a few examples out of many innumerable triumphs of the greatest system for eradicating poverty ever discovered, a system that Bernie Sanders condemns at every turn.

I’ve heard it said that you can’t beat something with nothing. So let’s examine the fruits of Bernie’s pet ideology, socialism, and see if they compete with the wealth of victories won by capitalism.

Let’s look at history.

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was an enormous and well documented cesspool of deprivation and mismanagement, all under the guise of collectivization and swift industrialization for the benefit of the workers who ultimately suffered the worst indignities of the great, statist experiment. And to those who would split hairs over the differing definitions of socialist and communist I would remind them of Vladmir Lenin’s immortal words, “The goal of socialism is communism.”

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The affronts to humanity and systemic poverty seen under the tyrannical regime of Mao in communist China are also well documented, as are the brutal abuses of Pol Pot in Cambodia, and the failure of North Korea is so notorious as to require no detailed explanation here.

Let’s look beyond history, to the modern day.

In socialist Venezuela inflation is expected to top 1,600% in 2017. Basic necessities such as toilet paper are scarce, medical supplies are virtually non-existent, and groceries are rationed as thousands starve or are forced to turn to black markets for subsistence. Brazil has been ravaged by 21st Century Socialism, as has Argentina though they have made moves to rejects years of incompetent Peronist rule.

Bernie and his cohorts may point to Scandinavia as an example of the successes of socialist policies, but even a cursory examination of the Swedish Model reveals that years of onerous taxation and state intervention are a recipe for eventual decline. And those aspects of the Scandinavian states that should be emulated – namely economic freedom – are not surprisingly absent from Bernie’s meandering rants.

This may seem like a mean-spirited attempt to kick an old man while he’s down. Far from it. Bernie Sanders has ushered in a new social awakening that in times past has been the harbinger of suffering the likes of which Americans have never experienced. It would be one thing if the seeds he planted found no purchase in the fertile soil of the Millennial Generation; a snake oil salesman is no danger if no one procures his wares. Unfortunately, Bernie’s anti-capitalist dogma has found root among those eager to blame a bogeyman for the economic perils that state interventionism – not free markets – has wrought in our country. Bernie and his minions would double-down on those catalysts that spurred on the brutal downfall of countries past and present.

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The ever-prescient Abraham Lincoln, in his 1838 Lyceum Address, said:

“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer. If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher.”

Our sixteenth President was more right than he knew. Rather than ushering in a new era of equality, Bernie Sanders, and more importantly his fervent followers, are clamoring for failed ideas of the past that would enslave our future.

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