by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Rebuffing the “s” word doesn’t make you any less socialist than embracing the word “capitalist” makes you a champion of free markets. No, these presidential candidates aren’t latter-day Trotskys, but contemporary Democrats, who have long favored tighter controls and bigger government, are now far more inclined to embrace proto-socialistic policies than they are liberal (in the genuine sense of the word) ones. By any fair reading, their agendas can be described as socialistic.
For starters, nearly every Democrat candidate now frames his or her political case within the context of a class struggle. Every one proposes fixing the scourge of “inequality,” not by loosening regulatory controls or finding ways to create a more meritocratic society, but by confiscating wealth and redistributing it to the alleged victims of capitalism. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s confiscatory “wealth tax,” although ostensibly about funding her pet projects, is sold as a way of instituting state-induced societal fairness.
She’s not alone. These days, the left’s big argument is one giant zero-sum economic fallacy—the idea, for example, that successful Americans are “taking” bigger pieces of the pie than they deserve, to the detriment of society. The argument, the spirit, the aim, and the execution have far more in common with Karl Marx than with Adam Smith.