Bernie Sanders' ascent shows the importance of voter education on wealth inequality

There are plenty of leftist populists out there pushing for Bernie Sanders. Sally Kohn wrote at CNN today how Sanders is a great alternative to Hillary Clinton because Americans seem to be in favor of his ideas.

But Bernie Sanders is a socialist! No one would elect a socialist president, right? Not necessarily. This past June, Gallop found that almost half of Americans say they would vote for a socialist to be president. Plus once Americans learn more about what Sanders brand of socialism looks like, they may like him even more.

Kohn actually uncovers a disturbing trend because it does seem more people are listening to Sanders and his message about wealth inequality. Sanders himself claimed to MSNBC that wealth inequality is a bipartisan issue.

“You’d be surprised there are more than a few Republicans for Bernie Sanders out there. Don’t be surprised if we do well with a number of Republicans. You know Republicans have to send their kids to college. Working-class Republicans can’t afford to do that. Working-class Republicans have seen their factories shut down and moved to China. Working-class Republicans are equally disgusted about a campaign finance system which allows billionaires now to buy elections.”

Sanders may be talking about states like West Virginia, which voted for John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. They’re certainly pro-union, but rejected Obama partially for his “cling to guns or religion” comment about small Pennsylvania towns. But one coal miner insisted to The Washington Post that Sanders was different than other candidates.

“For one thing, he knows what union is, and he respects it. That’s all we need is respect. He’s just a likable fellow, trustworthy. I don’t think [Hillary Clinton] has the same respect for the union, and she really shot herself in the foot over, you know, all that secretive stuff.”

This could all be blowing smoke, and an attempt to either scare the GOP or scare Clinton, but it could not be. There are those out there who seem to identify with Sanders over any other candidate, especially on wealth inequality. There’s definitely a feeling in the country that the “rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” but people need to ask whether the government should be the one to fix all this. It’s something which has already been tried on both the federal and state level, whether it’s George W. Bush’s stimulus checks or the progressive tax. It’s something which really hasn’t worked and those promising it will work this time are either insane, delusional, or just don’t know better. A part of it has to do with the proliferation of Keynesian economic theory in education and politics, which has trickled down into daily public thought. For whatever reason, people look toward the government to solve all the problems, instead of looking at what they can do as individuals to solve their own problems.

This is where education is important. The cure-all isn’t 100% “oh let’s get rid of regulations,” although it would certainly help get the economy moving. There have to be reductions in both taxes and spending, plus a partial reshuffling of government. This means getting rid of departments which have no business existing and not just Rick Perry’s three E’s of EPA, Education, and Energy, but the USDA, the FCC, the FEC, GSA, DHS, etc. The same goes for getting rid of laws like Obamacare, McCain-Feingold, Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley, and the Clean Air Act. Expunging all of these things from the annals of the American government will make life easier for businesses to operate and for people to live their lives. But focusing only on the federal government is a misnomer. There has to be a focus on states and cities too. There are egregious, wage-stifling regulations in cities like San Antonio (who drove Uber and Lyft out) and states like Illinois (which regulates everything from buildings where livestock can be kept to how certain foods need to be handled) which just cause poverty to rise. New Orleans tried to take over the slaughterhouse industry in 1869 which created a government-run monopoly before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it violated the 14th Amendment. This is why state and local elections matter! What good is keeping the federal government in check if state and city governments are able to trample all over the 14th Amendment when it comes to right of contract?

The question people should be asking is this: will more government intervention into the rights of businesses and the rights of people cause more income inequality or less? Would prices go down if businesses didn’t have to worry about how far one counter is from another or whether they had to make sure they weren’t building on the habitat of squirrels or owls or making sure they had two vents instead of one for smoke clearance? Educating voters on these regulations and how they affect wages and income inequality is the only way to fight back against Sanders and his ilk. If not, “Feel the Bern” may become “Elect the Bern” or worse “Re-Elect the Bern.” Which no one on the right should want.

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