Bernie Sanders deserves our respect. After all, it was not long ago that the senior senator from Vermont and self-proclaimed democratic socialist was pontificating from the political fringe. Today, however, Sanders has re-defined the centerground of liberal politics. His result in the Iowa caucuses — just 0.3 percent behind frontrunner Hillary Clinton — evidences this truth. Yet while Sanders may deserve Millennial respect, he does not deserve our support. For three reasons, a Sanders presidency would be a disaster for young Americans.
First, Sanders’ economic policies would submit younger Americans to a future of ever-higher taxes and ever-fewer job opportunities. This is not an assumption, but rather a fact proved by those global locales where Bernie-style socialism has already been applied into action.
Consider France and Spain. Both democracies have the benefit of well-educated populations and comparatively stable political situations. Yet for years, they have empowered unions over individuals, economic stenosis over liberated capital flows and government growth over lower taxes. This has left private enterprise to rot.
At the same time, the massive expansion of government power has become entrenched in the social fabric. In France, the socialist government is failing in its efforts to introduce the most basic of economic reforms. This failure reflects the measure by which socialist states inevitably become dissected between an over-taxed, under-invested private sector and a bloated, inefficient public sector. Those who lose the most to this absurdity are the youngest, as the unemployment rate for Spaniards under 25 years old is an astronomical 47.7 percent. On the flip side, capitalism’s benefits are ever-present in the form of iPhones, Uber and basic job opportunities. Finally here, it’s crucial to deconstruct Sanders’ claims that “rich people” could simply pay for his socialist utopia. As I’ve explained here, the reality is that everyone, especially those in the middle class, has to pay for the socialist dystopia.
Sanders’ economic policies would submit younger Americans to a future of ever-higher taxes and ever-fewer job opportunities
Second, Sanders would bury young Americans in debt. While socialist theory assumes the resources of a society are maximized and maximally allocated by an expansive state, history proves the opposite to be true: where the state grows, private sector investment is crowded out and inherent government inefficiencies metastasize. Although Sanders and his comrades claim that expanded government spending on infrastructure creates jobs, they ignore the fact that these jobs represent a poor allocation of finite resources (just look at the green energy boondoggle). Infrastructure spending is not the economic magic carpet that liberals assume it to be. Unfortunately, such economic delusion fosters broader negative consequences. As the private sector shrinks, tax revenues plummet. At that point, with government beholden to special interests — as occurs in all socialist governments — the only other recourse is higher taxes, or higher national borrowing. Liberals love to claim that borrowing pays for itself, but it does not. Instead, it imposes higher interest rates on the economy, increasing government outlays for ever less productive value and raising the price of private borrowing for those at the bottom of the economic ladder. Indeed, the national deficit and debt are already at catastrophic levels. Sanders would only exacerbate this crisis.
But perhaps the most under-considered rationale for keeping Sanders outside the White House gates is national security. Because were he able to implement his policies, Sanders would greatly endanger the United States. His plans would gut the military and corrode its ability to defend America’s interests abroad. The go-to liberal claim that defense cuts are possible because the U.S. defense budget is “x times larger than any other nation, etc.” is simple obfuscation. In reality, from Russia to China to ISIS, the United States faces a wide array of threats to our people, our values and to the international order. Deterring these threats and if necessary, defeating them, requires major investment. To assume that our adversaries — Vladimir Putin, for example — would not jump at the opportunity to challenge America under a President Sanders is absurd. Compared to Sanders, President Obama is positively Reaganesque — and just look how our security and prestige have suffered under his feckless and weak administration.
There is only one reason for younger Americans to vote for Bernie Sanders — if, instead of happiness, they live for the pursuit of personal and national pain.
Tom Rogan is a Senior Contributor for Opportunity Lives and writes for National Review. He is a panelist on The McLaughlin Group and a fellow at the Steamboat Institute. Follow him on Twitter @TomRtweets.