by Leo Thuman
Last week, Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) introduced a resolution condemning socialism to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Its full title is “A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that socialism poses a significant threat to freedom, liberty, and economic prosperity.”
Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) failed 2016 campaign in many ways put socialism back on the map in the U.S. The self-avowed, lifelong Marxist brushed up the once rightly maligned term with the label “democratic,” and was able to gain a substantial following from progressive Democrats.
Following his loss, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which seeks the abolition of private business, surged in membership. Thanks to Sanders’ unexpected success, the DSA, once an organization of little more than 5,000 members, boomed to 50,000 by 2018. But getting a lot of people to subscribe to their emails hasn’t been their only concerning achievement — they have also infiltrated all levels of government.
Bolstered by front groups like Sanders’ own organization, Our Revolution — which shares a name with a book by Soviet revolutionary Leon Trotsky — the DSA and its members have won offices at every level of government. Some have been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). Several others, including additional members of the “Squad” Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), share identical policies and rhetoric.
And not only do these figures have positions where they can attempt to steer national discourse — they also receive an enormous volumes of media attention. However, despite aggressive media promotion, Ocasio-Cortez and the socialist Squad have abysmally bad poll numbers. Nevertheless, socialism has grown in popularity due in part to the larger rebranding of collectivism as “free” handouts from the government. As many as 43 percent of Americans believe that socialists want to give them free things while being blissfully ignorant about the grim ramifications of their ever-failing ideology.
Yet, even today there are new examples of socialism’s grisly failure. In Cuba, where the new “reformist” constitution explicitly mentions socialism ten times, the country is suffering massive food shortages and has implemented rationing. Venezuela, where Bernie Sanders once said the “American Dream” could be achieved, has been plagued by massive food shortages for many months now, leading to an uprising that was only barely put down by socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro.
But mass starvation isn’t the only way that socialism brings about misery and hardship. At its core, socialism has also shown itself to be an anti-religious ideology which looks upon traditional faith with deep disdain. Indeed, this disdain has often become deadly. In the Soviet Union, for example, priests, nuns, and monks were killed en masse under the country’s regime. And Spanish socialists in the 1930s, who are praised by DSA-linked Jacobin, killed many thousands of Christians, including more than 4,000 priests, in what has become known as “The Red Terror.”
Daines’ resolution is a welcome reality check to this apparent memory lapse. It recognizes that this country has “shown the world time and time again the genius of American ingenuity and the grit of American determination.” It also states that these values are threatened by a “radical, socialist, far-left movement” which “has taken root as the new voice of the Democratic Party.” Daines is correct to raise an alarm about the pernicious ideology of socialism. Socialism in all of its forms, from “national” to “democratic,” has yielded results which are economically destructive at best and deadly at worst.
When the evidence is examined, it should be clear that American principles are the polar opposite of socialism. Yet for some reason, that’s not clicking with many younger Americans, who are concerningly unfamiliar with the lessons of history. Fortunately some in Congress, like Senator Daines, recognize this truth and are willing to act on it.