On the policy side, American conservatives have one international example in their case against democratic socialism: Venezuela. That country is ostensibly socialist and undergoing a severe economic crisis — so bad they’re running out of toilet paper, says Tucker Carlson — and therefore leftism always causes economic disaster. The initial problem with this argument is that Venezuela is not a real democracy, as President Nicolas Maduro has been blatantly rigging constitutional and electoral processes to cling to power. Venezuela may embrace socialism, but it definitely doesn’t embrace democratic socialism.
A more important rejoinder to this argument is Norway (and the other Nordic countries to a lesser extent). Norwegian workers are heavily protected, with 70 percent of workers covered by union contracts, and over a third directly employed by the government. The Norwegian state operates a gigantic sovereign wealth fund, and its financial assets total 331 percent of its GDP (as compared to an American figure of 25 percent). Meanwhile, its state-owned enterprises are worth 87 percent of GDP. Of all the domestic wealth in Norway, the government owns 59 percent, and fully three-quarters of the non-home wealth (as most Norwegians own their home).