The 100-Year Slippery Slope of Liberalism to Socialism in America
Since 2016, Bernie Sanders has made it fashionable in the Democratic party to identify with socialism. However, socialism has steadily been creeping into mainstream American since the Great Depression.
Since 1932, liberalism has expanded the size, scope, influence and power of the federal government. Liberal politicians have transformed the way the Constitution framed a limited role of government into a powerful, punitive and costly one as politicians move from classic liberalism under FDR to more extremes espoused today in the Democratic party.
It was inevitable. Liberalism always had a component of socialism. The question was how long would it take them to tell us they are not socialists before it would be fashionable to become one?
Many, if not all, of the liberal and socialist policies, were created with good intentions. However, the consequences of those decisions have created a slippery slope to more government and admitted socialists who want even more government control in our lives.
FDR Transforms America
In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt was dealing with one of the greatest crises in American history — the Great Depression. Banks were failing across the country, hundreds of thousands of homes and farms were foreclosing, and one-quarter of Americans were without work.
Roosevelt blamed the greed of corporations as the root of the problem without acknowledging any role of the government in the creation of the crisis. An activist government would be needed to solve the problem and a New Deal was needed that would redefine the relationship between government and the people.
From the time of the Revolution to the Great Depression, America was defined by the standards set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution of self-reliance, private property ownership and decentralized power.
FDR offered a new social contract — one whereby the government would guarantee citizens financial protection of the marketplace and its uncertainties. The New Deal would create government dependence and centralize power.
America Discovers Government Dependence
While limited, this new form of liberalism in the New Deal sought to expand prosperity not through private enterprise but through the government. FDR permanently and fundamentally changed the government, dramatically expanded its size and scope, and created a revolutionary role of the government in the economy.
Americans grew accepting of government plans like Social Security that ensured a stable source of income after retirement.
By the 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson was expanding the government’s role and influence in everyday life through what he called “The Great Society.” His policies once again dramatically expanded the size and scope of government involvement in people’s lives.
Medicare was instituted to provide insurance for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor. He sought to protect consumers and address issues of inequality in education.
Ronald Reagan Warns About the Inevitable Consequence
In 1961, actor and future president Ronald Reagan said Americans would not vote for socialism. However, “Under the name of liberalism, the American people would adopt every fragment of the socialist program.”
Regarding Medicare, Reagan said:
“One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project, most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.”
Since that time, healthcare has been the main driver of government expansion and influence.
Government Intrusion Returns Under President Obama
Reagan was right — America didn’t like socialism but voted for liberals who created and expanded government programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and housing assistance.
In 2008, America was again in the throes of a financial crisis. Instead of focusing on the underlying problems that led to the Great Recession, Obama chose to focus on healthcare. Through the Democratic-led Congress, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) transformed healthcare. For it to work, an individual mandate was created that forced American’s to buy insurance or pay a fine. Subsidies were provided for those who could not qualify for Medicaid. However, Medicaid was expanded to include more people to ensure coverage.
Democratic Socialism Since 2016
In the 2016 Democratic nomination for president, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), a long-time admitted socialist, shook up the liberal establishment. He promised a “Medicare for All” plan if elected and that he would destroy private healthcare once and for all.
His message was extremely popular with young people and the poor.
In addition, he said that the government must overtake business and control it so that businesses cannot abuse workers or harm the economy.
Americans are Conditioned and Changing Their Views on Socialism
According to Gallup, 4 in 10 Americans now embrace some form of socialism. Nearly 90 years ago, FDR’s New Deal began the long road of conditioning Americans that government intervention is good.
America was founded on the ideas of liberty. Liberty means constraint on government. The Constitution was designed to protect the people from the government. Liberals who are really socialist have a different view — we ought to be running to government.
Socialism is gaining ground and America must decide at some point do we believe in the Constitution or is it time to abolish it? The slippery slope has a bottom and we may be getting close to it.
By Don Purdum, Freelance Contributor
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