I like everything Bernie Sanders says. Free college? Sounds awesome! $15 minimum wage? Hey, I'll probably have a minimum wage job in the coming months, I'd like that extra cash! Getting big money out of politics? That sounds fair to me. Equality for everyone? Of course I want that.
However, I don't think most people realize what the fundamental issue is behind everything Bernie says. It's not that he's a 'socialist' or that he's old, or that his speculation tax won't work, or whatever.
I propose that in fact, it has nothing to do with his policies at all.
It has to do with worldview.
Okay, into a little background. Last semester, I took a college Introduction to Literature course, in which we read Red Plenty. It is basically a 400 page group of stories about communist Russia, and how the Russian government aspired to an ideal but failed miserably. At the same time, I took an advanced Readings in Theology course. In that, we talked a lot about worldview, and how a messed up worldview can lead to a lot of other issues. In How Now Shall We Live, Chuck Colson suggests that there is a fundamental worldview issue that has invaded our world today. I connected these two classes, and came to a realization about the underlying reasons why communism will always fail, and what this pervasive worldview is.
It has to do with human nature. Today, many people believe that human nature is basically good. As a philosophy, this is generally called Humanism. A lot of this in the modern era started in the 1700's, with Jean-Jacques Rousseau and others. Many people like to think that, as a whole, humans are good, and that they naturally will be good. They believe that society, money, lack of education, or traumatic events are what make them do evil.
Don't agree that this is everywhere? Then ask yourself - why do we always try and explain away the bad? Someone murders? Oh, they had a bad childhood. A father leaves his family? Oh, he had a mental disorder. A gunman shoots up a school? Oh, society failed him. Yet no one tries to explain acts of great goodness! I mean, why would they? It's human nature, isn't it? No one looks at a person like Mother Theresa and says she has a mental disorder. They say things like, "Faith in humanity restored!" as if it was what all humans were naturally meant to do.
This, in fact, is the philosophy that gives rise to socialism.
Capitalism, and America, is founded on the idea that man is inherently evil. Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers, which he used to defend the Constitution, "Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of man will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without restraint."
Capitalism is built on the idea that people will be greedy, and try and cheat one another. However, under the free market system, the goal is for this cheating to balance out. For example, if one person tries to raise prices to an unfair level, another will lower theirs and benefit.
However, socialism does not conform to this fundamental truth about human nature. Socialism tries to say that, if we just set up society correctly, people will naturally fall in line and work together for the common good. Give them free college, and they'll tackle the big issues. Raise their wages, and they won't waste the money.
This truth can be found in the Bible, but it can also be found in human history. All of human history is plagued by evil. Egypt was screwy, the Greeks were sickening, the Romans watched people get eaten by lions, the Middle Ages were a disaster, the Catholic church started the Crusades, the French Revolution was... revolting... Even America, who some believe to be the greatest country ever, had slaves and destroyed millions of natives.
And Bernie tries to come in and say, "If we just throw off the mantle of the rich oppressors... If we just educate everyone... If we just do this... we will be good!"
I wish it was that easy. I wish, if we just set people up, that they would just do things right. I wish that solving our issues was as easy as educating people. But what do educated people do? They flock to Wall Street. They build the atomic bomb. They scam those who don't know enough to stop them. I'm not saying they always do these things - but education does not make a moral person - just a smart one.
So, in summation:
My problem with Bernie is that his misconception about human nature causes many of his ideas to be flawed, no matter how much I wish they weren't.
Song of the Day: I Will Arise and Go to Jesus - Michael Card's version (I think this is close to the version I recently heard at Bethel University's Bethel service)