The Democratic presidential contestants are at war. They’re debating whether we should finally seek transformational change (aka Warren, Sanders), or continue the party’s historic pursuit of a kinder, gentler oligarchy (Biden, Klobuchar).
Republicans have naturally chosen to exploit this with one of the finer features of life under oligarchy: the right of anonymous rich guys to scare you into believing there’s no possibility of a better life.
During last week’s Democratic debate, a group called New Face PAC launched an ad campaign meant to stoke your fright. It opens with a photo of Queens Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose face morphs into flames.
Message: You know who else magically combusts into flames? Satan, that’s who.
Burning Ocasio-Cortez then gives way to a photo of an emaciated family from the 1970s. They’re victims of the Khmer Rouge, depraved commies who overthrew the Cambodian government in 1975, slaughtering 25 percent of the population through murder, famine, and untreated disease.
What’s could possibly be the correlation between AOC and genocidal whack jobs from a half-century ago? Elizabeth Heng, a failed California congressional candidate, appears to explain:
“Does AOC know the horror of socialism? My father was minutes from death in Cambodia before a forced marriage saved his life,” she says. “That’s socialism.”
If Ocasio-Cortez is the “face of socialism,” Heng concludes, “mine is a face of freedom. My skin is not white, I'm not outrageous, racist, nor socialist. I'm a Republican."
Message: Socialists want to kill your dad. Republicans will put you on TV.
Or as the Fresno Bee more succinctly put it: “Elizabeth Heng thinks you’re stupid.”
We’re now living through the most expensive propaganda rampage the world has ever known. The nation’s most popular cable news channel actually makes you less knowledgeable than 2 Broke Girls. Anonymous men spend limitless money to make you fear any change that won't leave them on top.
So your social media fills with mentions of Hitler and Venezuela, as if a despot's proclamations of being “socialist” are the real thing. If one could just declare something to make it true, Putin would be a master of democracy, and Trump would be an actual genius.
Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders, and Warren are preaching ideas closer to the Nordic variety of socialism, countries that routinely crush all comers for the highest standards of living on the planet. Take Norway, which grew bored with its genocidal yearnings around the 11th century, and won't be mentioned among the horrors of socialism. Compare it to the U.S., where our Greatest Country in the World propaganda makes us too lazy to examine whether we might occasionally be wrong:
You will note that Norwegians surpass us by paying roughly the same tax rates as Americans. Yet they also must forego the most cherished features of U.S. governance, such as funding endless wars, allowing their biggest companies to pay no taxes, or spending four times the money on corporate welfare than they do on the truly needy.
The propagandists will counter with the usual, “Yeah, but what about...” And they'll be right, to a certain extent. No system involving humans comes with perfection. So some will treat this brand of socialism the same way we treat our mass shooting epidemic: If we can't find an end-all solution, what's the point of doing anything at all?
The bigger threat, of course, is not the scary proposition that life could be better. It's that these ideas will be run through the grinder of Washington, coming out one part good for regular people, seven parts giveaway to the moneyed gents. 'Tis the hallmark of the Greatest Country in the World.
So, yes, fear this coming socialism if you will. Form your world view through the 30-second advice of men who won't reveal their names. Just look at all they've done for us so far. It simply can't be possible to imagine that life might be better.