Selling America Short
One of my goals in life is to convince progressives why they need to respect the free market economy, why conservatives need to care about social issues, and why people of faith need to be involved in politics. In that regard, permit me to tell you why I am not the biggest fan of Donald Trump and why I fear Bernie Sanders. I am focusing on these two populist candidates because I believe these men represent a political Hobson’s choice should they become our nominees. I do, however, have a measure of respect for both gentlemen because I consider them true believers which is more than I can say for most politicians.
Bernie Sanders’ fatal flaw has to do with his oxymoronic dream of making America whole by way of division- a mathematical impossibility. He wants to tax the so-called rich in order to help everyone including the poor and the middle-class. He considers Wall Street as the epitome of evil and the federal government as the super-hero savior of the people. The flaws in his ideology are massive. Whereas, I don’t disagree that Wall Street has become the epitome of greed and is certainly guilty of massive fraud, I believe the government’s responsibility in all this is to not only levy multi-billion dollar fines but to imprison the people who perpetuated the 2008 crash.
Sanders approach, however, is to tax the bejesus out of Wall Street, but what does that accomplish? It would serve to further reduce the capital that companies need, bankrupt even further the pension funds of union employees, threaten the bonds that fund government projects, and it would eliminate any chance for the middle class to be secure by way of their IRA and 401k retirement investments. In other words, Wall Street, despite all of its flaws, serves a vital purpose for individual Americans, corporations, unions, and governments giving them a chance to earn money by investment. In a nutshell, Bernie’s dream for America absconds the American dream, deleteriously destroying the ability to get ahead by hard work and smart investments. His promise to tax success amounts to nothing less than eliminating bridges on the road to prosperity leaving chasms in the wake of his socialist ways.
The Donald, who is living the American dream, thinks he can make America great by being smart fiscally and tough at the bargaining table and, in essence, by taxing the bejesus out of the rest of the world in order to bring back jobs to America. I like the fact that Trump wants to put America first again, yet, we all know, in the end, American consumers and investors will eventually pay more one way or another. Being smart and tough may have made the Donald great and I agree it would certainly be an improvement over America’s current situation, but it fails to come to terms with the real secret to America’s success.
America’s greatness was never measured by our fiscal acumen. We became great because we were principled and because we were good (see John Adams and Alexis De Tocqueville). In other words, faith, family, values, virtue, sacrifice, and hard work are the root of America’s greatness and, as it turned out, prosperity was the eventual fruit. But, is that truly what Trump is selling or is he actually selling America short?
Of course, what Bernie Sanders is selling is envy and covetousness- proof positive that too many Americans have lost sight of what the city on the hill once represented and what made it work. What America needs today is a reformative transformation rather than a base appeal to populism and nationalism.
First Published in the Santa Barbara News Press
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