DALLAS — Bernie Sanders would make a great American president — if by “great” you mean a president who wants to cast aside the free market economy, our constitutionally limited government and cherished individual liberties.

And while it’s unlikely Sanders will win both the Democratic presidential nomination and the general election in November, it’s certainly possible.

Donald Trump certainly has proved that unlikely candidates can win the White House.

Sanders currently leads the polls in New Hampshire, Utah and, most importantly, in California, according to Real Clear Politics.

If Elizabeth Warren were to drop out after Super Tuesday, most of her support would likely go to Sanders, since their policies are so similar. If that happens, Sanders could take a commanding lead over Joe Biden.

In addition, Sanders’ supporters are more energized and motivated than those of other Democratic candidates, in part because many of Sanders backers think he was robbed of the 2016 Democratic nomination.

But a Sanders presidency would mark a dramatic turning point for the country.

Take the economy. The United States has always relied on free markets. A market economy is not really a “system” since it’s largely uncontrolled. Markets happen when people and companies are free to buy, sell, hire, invest and enter into voluntary contracts.

One key benefit of markets: Only businesses that please the consumer survive.

As a self-described democratic socialist, Sanders wants managed markets. People can only buy, sell, hire and invest if the “managers” — politicians and bureaucrats — allow it. That typically means that only businesses that please the politicians survive.

In a recent speech to explain what he means by democratic socialism, Sanders said, “After decades of policies that have encouraged and subsidized unbridled corporate greed, we now have an economy that is fundamentally broken and grotesquely unfair.”

By “decades” Sanders includes the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Has the man looked at the historically low unemployment rate in Donald Trump’s America? Or the rising incomes?

While the U.S. economy is more regulated than it used to be, it is still mostly a market economy. A Sanders presidency would try to put an end to what he calls “the incredible attacks against working families that have taken place under unfettered capitalism.”

So a Sanders economy would have “fetters,” which is defined as “a chain or manacles used to restrain a prisoner.”

Sanders would also fundamentally change the limits on government imposed by the U.S. Constitution. To its framers a limited government was a goal, not an obstacle. Not to Sanders. He wants not just a big government, but an activist big government — one that has a controlling say in almost every aspect of our lives.

Don’t think the framers intended the federal government to run the health care system, pay everyone’s college tuition, take your guns or force you to use only renewable energy? Too bad— that’s what Sanders and his followers want.

Don’t think the framers would have allowed the government to tax, most or all of your income and assets above a government-allowed amount? Look at his tax plan.

Don’t think the framers would have supported the government prohibiting or criminalizing long-standing religious beliefs, forcing people to engage in or accept practices they believe are religiously precluded? Listen to Sanders when he’s condemning those he considers bigots.

Most presidential candidates call for change. Sanders is much bolder; he’s calling for a “revolution.”

“To bring about real change we need a political revolution where millions of people stand up, fight, and demand a government that works for all of us,” he said last June.

But it’s not a revolution to protect our rights and freedoms. It’s a revolution to revoke them, which is exactly the kind of “great” American president Sanders’ followers want.

Merrill Matthews holds a doctorate in humanities from the University of Texas and is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas. Readers may write him at IPI, # 820, 1320 Greenway Drive, Irving, TX 75038.

Copyright 2020 Tribune Content Agency.

(21) comments


socialists trying to justify Bernie or Liz or Mayor Pete as a good democratic president - now that is sad if not laughable... first they all want to limit the free markets and end fossil fuel and have a single payer medical system... they also want to limit your rights and choices and at the same time have total open borders... if not to make matters even more terrible for all of us - they advocate against our Constitution. Even James Carville sees that these candidates are bad for the country and his political party... socialism communism just never works and yet we have educated folks in America buying into the myth and the lies... it is a sorry day for once a proud political party called the Democratic Party... once the party of John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Tip O'Neill and many others....


"Markets happen when people and companies are free to buy, sell, hire, invest and enter into voluntary contracts."

Incomplete, but correct. And how, precisely, would Bernie Sanders limit or stop any of that? I've listened to his speeches and read his book....nothing to suggest limiting the freedom of any company to do any of those things.

"One key benefit of markets: Only businesses that please the consumer survive."

Perhaps. But that doesn't apply to markets in the US. Businesses in the US that get big tax breaks and gov. subsidies survive. It has little or nothing to do with "pleasing the consumers." And allowing companies to hire workers for less than a livable wage is also a subsidy to those companies--we taxpayers have to pay for food stamps, public housing, etc. In other words, we are subsidizing low wages, and the companies that pay them.

If you actually pay attention, it's Bernie and Elizabeth who are actually in favor of free markets--and ending unfair subsidies and tax breaks. It's called a level playing field.


The line towards the top of this opinion piece is a massive lie: "The United States has always relied on free markets." In fact, the markets for many, many things is not "free" at all. One needs only to look at farm/milk subsidies, mining and oil subsidies, and the tax code to recognize that our market is and has been inherently "unfree" for some time.


I do not recall anything about the Sanders (or Warren) platform that would destroy our "free market" economy. This is especially true in healthcare where the market is at best only notionally "free". Most Americans have limited options at best when choosing insurers, providers, etc. Enough has been written about gouging in the pharna market that we do not need to repeat it here. And in the event of trauma, you are unlikely to have, or be able to make, and informed choice as to your care.

You compound the problem by attempting to segue that issue into some radical socialist takeover of the whole economy, which no one is talking about.


Fastest way to destroy a free market economy (or any economy for that matter) is to tax it to death. Single-payer healthcare would require trillions in new taxes and we'd still have to stand in long lines for care because all of the underpaid healthcare providers would look for other work or other countries in which to practice medicine. The VA is socialized medicine. I doubt any doctor, patient or former patient of the VA has ever become an advocate for socialized medicine.


FWIW, I have a friend who joined the military for the health care. He was a young father without insurance and had a child with significant health issues. He credits socialized medicine with saving his child’s life.


so in the 1950s when the top tax rate was 90+%, that wasn't a "free market"?


A faster way is to ballon the deficit and debt and give massive tax breaks to the wealthy. We tax what we need vs giving the farm to the already wealthy, whiz is the prime objective of Trump and his minions. Oil and fossil fuel need no assistance in a “free” market yet they are subsidized hand over fist vs renewables. We also don’t need the massive military spending at the direct expense of sciences and education.


rogy; so should we dump the VA? And which other country would those healthcare workers go to? Most of the first-world countries have some form of "socialized" medicine. Oddly, none of them are an advocate for our health care system.


Compared to countries with socialized medicine (which we are not really taking about anyway), we pay more in premiums than they pay in taxes, so trillions in "new taxes" is not really on the table either.


I'd invite each of you to post a list of the Socialist countries you'd choose to live in if given a free pass. In descending order of desirability of course. Please remember that Sweden and the other so-called "Democratic Socialist" countries have pretty much disavowed socialism (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i9FQ834yFc) and Sweden in particular had to rebound from its own failed socialist experiment (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jq3vVbdgMuQ). Looking forward to your posts!


Nice try...there’s a massive difference between socialism and democratic socialism. Stop gaslighting.


Yes, I agree, there is a big difference. "Democratic" socialism involves using the power to tax and to jail to bleed the risk-takers and hand it over to the risk-averse under the guise of "majority rules". In "Pure" Socialism risk takers are simply arrested and thrown in jail.

And truly, you should look up the definition of "gaslighting".


Tax and jail? Hahaha...we already have what amount to debtors jails under your way. Anyone with political connections in your capitalistic market already has offshores what they can and bought their tax breaks with lobbyists and political influence that brought the massive Trump giveaway.


Risk Takers? You should stop reading Ayn Rand as if it was non-fiction.


so, if the nordic countries aren't "socialist" then surely you're fine enacting the same programs that they have?? i mean, that's all that bernie is proposing. so, glad to have you on board comrade!


I highly recommend you (and Bernie) watch this documentary that was produced by a Swedish economist to see why Bernie's plan would never be adopted in Sweden. Bernie's health plan is WAY too socialist for even Sweden (which is actually a far more capitalist economy than our own). Much of Sweden's formerly socialized medicine is now privately outsourced to make it more effective and less expensive. BTW they also have many, many more chartered (voucher) schools than we do which have improved private and public education results there dramatically. Enjoy the truth...



weird that you focus entirely on sweden. almost like you have this dumb youtube queued up that you think proves a point when in reality literally every other first world country has social medicine and all of them not only pay less per capita than the US but *also* have better health outcomes. oh, and as a little bonus people don't go to jail for not being able to pay massive medical bills! but i mean, yeah, maybe that means jeff bezos has to actually pay taxes. the horror

i sincerely hope you're being paid to shill for the billionaires because otherwise, man. what a choad


When someone is using random Youtube videos to make their case, you know they are not serious. Have you ever been to Sweden?


Trump and the Republicans have already shredded the Constitution. It’s a little late to clutch your pearls now. What is so frightening about health care for all? We are the only developed country without it.


Aspect of...stupid autocorrect

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