People initially were in disbelief that a card-carrying socialist such as Bernie Sanders could make a competitive bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, but I trust it's now obvious how wrong they were.
Pointing to the rise of Donald Trump and Ben Carson in the Republican race, some say Sanders is doing well because this is a year of the outsiders. But to suggest there is commonality between Democratic outsiders and Republican ones is lazy thinking.
Republican outsiders are thriving because Republicans are frustrated with the status quo -- the politically correct culture and President Obama's ongoing crusade to fundamentally transform America. Their dissatisfaction is so strong that it has fueled actual outsiders -- those who have no prior experience in office -- not just those who disagree on policy with the Washington insiders. Sanders, as a United States senator who strongly supports the Obama agenda, is not an outsider in either sense.
Others credit Sanders' success to Hillary Clinton's myriad scandals, from Benghazi to emails. In any other year, they say, Sanders wouldn't stand a chance. But if Sanders is simply a fallback option, how does he draw such large, enthusiastic crowds? If the Democratic base regarded Sanders as merely an alternative to Clinton, his crowds would be as anemic as hers.
The open secret is that Sanders is more of a Democratic insider than the liberal media admit. He is popular because socialism resonates with much of the Democratic Party's base, which has moved so far left that Sanders is anything but an anomaly -- except that unlike his rivals, he cops to his socialism. Sanders' confessed socialism doesn't hurt him. If he were younger, more charismatic and less bizarre, he'd do even better.
Whether or not the Democratic Party owns up to it, it is as close to socialism as it can get except for the label, which it will carefully avoid for as long as it perceives it still needs moderates to win national elections.
Let's not quibble over whether Democrats are technically socialist, because that would miss the point that the party's center of gravity is far left -- no matter what name you attach to it. If you insist, though, I'll note that political science and economics textbooks and English dictionaries define socialism as a system in which the government has control over the major means of production, distribution and exchange. Much, if not all, of Democratic domestic policy falls within that definition.
Democrats no longer support the American idea. In fact, they actively oppose it, and it's getting worse by the day. My long-held fantasy has been that someday rank-and-file Democrats will realize that their party has left them and make their exit.
If there was any doubt the Democratic Party has moved far left, its presidential debate removed it. The candidates couldn't distance themselves enough from "capitalism," and none of them expressly denied being a socialist, though I doubt Jim Webb is. Some, including Clinton, pretended it is "out-of-control capitalism" to which they object, but those are just meaningless words.
They fell all over themselves competing to prove they would offer more government freebies than the others. They proposed free college education, free health care (even for immigrants here illegally), mandatory paid family leave (free to employees, but not to the businesses paying it), major hikes in the minimum wage, open borders, increases in existing entitlements and more punitive taxes on the "wealthy."
These reckless demagogues uttered nary a word about the national debt, the impending insolvency of Social Security and Medicare or how they would pay for these freebies.
None mentioned work ethic, economic growth, small businesses as the backbone of our economy or personal responsibility on any level. Lord knows they didn't mention, much less champion, our founding ideal of liberty.
Call it socialism or not; Democrats are all about consolidating government power and then using it -- often unconstitutionally -- to force political and economic outcomes.
If Democrats would admit they are socialists, they might have to explain away thousands of years of history that points to the consistent failure of socialistic systems instead of hiding behind their allegedly good intentions.
They routinely disparage conservatives as uncompassionate and portray themselves as superior and caring, but they have no answer to the hard reality that all their grandiose plans diminish prosperity and individual liberty across the board. They say they care about the poor, but their policies -- Obama's policies -- rob people of their prosperity and their human dignity. That, my friends, is not compassion.
Modern Democrats never own up to their failures, as witnessed by their astonishing denial that our current malaise is a direct result of Obama's policies. They still pretend they're the party out of power and outraged that the middle class is suffering. They still blame George W. Bush.
It's not surprising that Bernie Sanders is popular in the Democratic Party, in which he is right at home. The only mystery is why more rank-and-file members of that party haven't awakened to its extremism and bid it farewell.