“The trouble with socialism,” Margaret Thatcher once famously intoned, “is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” The problem with being a socialist, however, is explaining away the inevitable impoverishment and collapse — and worse — of countries that adopt it. I worked with an avowed socialist at the end of the 1980s who lectured us repeatedly on the coming Utopia, citing all of the successes of the Soviet Union … right up until it collapsed. “They had the wrong people running it,” was the only comment we could get through Lowell’s gritted teeth when we asked him to explain it. Suddenly, Lowell seemed much less interested in discussing socialist utopias.
Come to think of it, Lowell did look a bit like Bernie Sanders, and Sanders sounds a bit like Lowell here. This delicious moment captured by Newsbusters took place in a Univision interview with Sanders a couple of days ago, but it’s worth watching no matter when it took place:
LEÓN KRAUZE, UNIVISION: I am sure that you know about this topic: various leftist governments, especially the populists, are in serious trouble in Latin America. The socialist model in Venezuela has the country near collapse. Argentina, also Brazil, how do you explain that failure?
BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: You are asking me questions…
LEÓN KRAUZE, UNIVISION: I am sure you’re interested in that.
BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: I am very interested, but right now I’m running for President of the United States.
LEÓN KRAUZE, UNIVISION: So you don’t have an opinion about the crisis in Venezuela?
BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: Of course I have an opinion, but as I said, I’m focused on my campaign.
Er … what? Sanders has proudly proclaimed his socialism for his entire adult life. When challenged on why he’s running for the Democratic nomination, he’s insisted that he’s actually a “Democratic Socialist” whose socialism fits within the party. Presumably, that means that he plans to govern under a socialist model. That is his campaign. Shouldn’t Sanders have to explain how a political and economic system that has impoverished countries everywhere it’s been tried will somehow magically work in the US?
I suspect the answer will be similar to Lowell’s — the wrong people were running it. Bernie somehow thinks he’s the right person to run it, but … that’s what Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Nicolae Ceausescu, and Mikhail Gorbachev thought too. How well did that work out?