“The Democrats here seem to be in a virtual tie between one candidate who admits he’s a socialist and the other candidate who pretends she’s not. I wish them both luck.”
~Ted Cruz after Iowa Caucuses
The Presidential candidates faced off on Tuesday for the first time with official votes being cast, and it was quite a show. Martin O’Malley, bless his heart, was out of the race before the results finished being reported, and it was honestly a long time coming. Ted Cruz won the night on the GOP side, and Marco Rubio had a good showing at a very close third, roughly 1% behind number two, Trump. The rest of the candidates were largely irrelevant. One of the biggest things to take away from the Iowa Caucuses is that the GOP race, despite having a crowded field, is really just three candidates deep. It is a message clearly heard as candidates are already announcing and apparently preparing for their eventual concession. Hillary Clinton took a 700 to 695 precinct win over democratic socialist Bernie Sanders.
The other big take away is that we are now in a country where at least a quarter of the people, half of one of the major political parties, are willing to vote for an open and avowed socialist.
That is a very important number. It was roughly 25-30% of the population of the colonies when the American Revolution erupted. Only an estimated 3-6% of the population actually saw combat, and we won against the most advanced military at the time. That victory was, in no small measure, due to the logistical, material, and moral support of the 25-30% of the population who supported independence. Whenever you reach that tipping point of 25-30% of a population, you have enough weight to start moving things, and the pro-socialists in this country are approaching that tipping point.
Bernie Sanders, a man who has spent his entire career self-identifying as a democratic socialist–yes, SOCIALIST–very nearly took out Hillary Clinton, who was the overwhelming Democrat favorite in Iowa. In the end the race was so close that they literally had to flip a coin 6 times to decide it as there were six precincts locked in a dead heat after several votes. The race only got that close because Hillary Clinton was running too far to the right in the beginning of the campaign, and she had to push hard left to get voters to start paying attention to her rather than Sanders. Let me be clear….if we are in a race where Hillary Clinton is being pushed left to get votes, we’re in some serious trouble.
Socialism is a staggering weight around the neck of humanity, and it is beginning to gather popularity again here in the States as well as Europe. It is so popular that a change in the breeze knocking a quarter out of its rotation is all it would have taken to put Bernie Sanders, the avowed and unapologetic socialist, on the top of the Democratic Party coming out of Iowa. Hillary Clinton represents the liberal old-guard and she has been overconfident in her ability to outdistance, out spend, and out maneuver Bernie Sanders. She’s been relying so much on that establishment support and the inevitability of her campaign that what was projected to be a ten to one landslide victory for her in Iowa barely coalesced into a victory at all.
Sanders has tapped into an energetic and young support base that carries a strong presence in social media and is absolutely dedicated to action. Bernie’s support is drawn largely from young adults and college students who see a chance for direct personal benefit in the largesse that Sanders has promised them regardless of the fact that even if he wins the Presidency, Sanders would be unable to deliver on the vast majority of his promises without direct and massive support from Congress, which he’s unlikely to receive. The promise of everything under the sun for “free” is enough to buy their support and adulation.
I haven’t seen many of the major news outlets even talking about this aspect of the race. They’re all focused on the petty infighting between the GOP candidates as some of those seeking the nomination steadfastly refuse to accept the fact that they’re simply not going to get it. Meanwhile there is a not-so-quiet social revolution happening in the Democratic Party that is going unnoticed or, at the very least, unreported. A party that has historically done its best to distinguish the social programs and benefits it promotes from the socialist programs of Europe has dropped even the façade of a commitment to free market economics. Bernie Sanders is promising “free” health-care, “free” college tuition, “free” housing assistance, and a host of other “free” benefits to be distributed by the beneficent hand of government.
The problem with the word “free” when it comes from the government is that it’s just another way of saying the government will take by force from someone else to pay for what they say they’re giving you for “free.” If there’s no such thing as a free lunch, then how can anyone expect there to be free college and the rest? There have been multiple reports highlighting the monstrous price tag associated with these programs with some estimates reaching $12-15 Trillion dollars in new spending over the next ten years. Factored out, that means an average increase to the federal budget of trillions a year in spending that will have to be offset either with new taxes or with huge cuts to other areas of government. This is just the latest iteration of the instant gratification that is characteristic of the information age. There is a growing segment of the population that wants to “get theirs” now and simply does not care what these programs will cost in ten, fifteen, or twenty years. We are going into New Hampshire next, and Bernie Sanders appears to be riding a wave of popular momentum. He’s gone from a complete outlier and dark-horse candidate facing 60 to 1 odds in Iowa to suddenly running nose to nose with one of the most powerful political operations in US history.
It will be interesting to watch how the candidates respond to the shifting landscape as the GOP field narrows and the options on the Democrats open. Bernie is likely going to win in New Hampshire. He is a celebrity of sorts on the Progressive Left and there is a large amount of support from his base there. Clinton, on the other hand, is coming in as a true outsider. At best she can appeal to her home in New York as a tie to the northeast, but that is a completely different demographic than New Hampshire. I expect her to move farther left as she tries to compete for Bernie’s near captive audience. And if Bernie Sanders does take a win in New Hampshire, it will make South Carolina a real turning point in the election. Clinton may be able to suffer a near tie and an expected loss on what basically amounts to Sanders’ home turf, but two losses in a row and she’s done for.
In the GOP field, I think Ted Cruz will begin to soften his rhetoric some, if he’s smart. He’ll want to attract some of the free agents, so to speak, that will be left with Rand Paul and Rick Santorum’s departures. I expect we’ll see at least two more campaigns shut down before New Hampshire, and there will be voters up for grabs. Donald Trump will be vying hard for those same voters, though I believe he’ll go after them in a different way. He’s going to move as far right as possible and use up any remaining ground of reason he had left.
For Trump, I think that’s his only play. He’s already said too much to try and come back to the center without being called either indecisive or weak. He burned his own bridges on the way out to the far right wing of the party, and now he’s alone there. There is a finite amount of support to be found on the far right fringe of the party, though, and I don’t think it will be enough to counter the appeal of either Cruz or Rubio as a more reasoned alternative.
Coming out of New Hampshire for the GOP, I think you’ll see the field narrow to 3 with Cruz and Rubio vying for the top. Trump at that point will be third. He’s peaked already in his popularity and the results of Iowa show that. In the counties that he won, Trump won hard, but the ones he lost were equally one sided against him. I expect Trump’s overall numbers will remain stable going into New Hampshire while Cruz and Rubio will get a definite bump as they attract the lion’s share of Rand Paul’s former supporters.
One positive aspect of Bernie Sanders’ unexpected success in Iowa is the chance that the American people may finally be presented with an honest and open choice between two clearly different political philosophies. I may not agree with Sanders on his policies and politics, but as I’ve said before in previous articles, the one thing I can absolutely respect about the man is his honesty. He doesn’t try to hide his beliefs and principles, but rather stands firmly on them even in the face of opposition within his own party. Similarly, Ted Cruz has never been the man to bend on principle and compromise on integrity.
If Cruz and Sanders end up facing off in the general election then the country will be faced with a choice between increasing government control and authority on the one hand, and a return to the Constitution and the idea of individual sovereignty and empowerment on the other. Of all the presidential elections I’ve seen in my lifetime, this one may have more impact on the course of the nation for generations to come than any other.
I pray we choose wisely.
For an in-depth look at why Socialism and Marxism in general is antithetical to the idea of individual liberty and freedom that is part of our national identity, take a look at my two part Blog post “Marxism vs. Freedom.”
Note: The use of images in this piece does not indicate the artists’ support or endorsement of the thoughts and opinions expressed in the article.