For years, people like me have been calling the Democratic Party “socialist.” Some call that an exaggeration. It’s not an exaggeration any longer, at least not if Bernie Sanders goes on to be the party’s nominee. Even the fact he has come this far, to beat Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary by a landslide, says a lot.

Since the United States is closer to transformation into all-out socialism than ever before, with one of its two major candidates an explicit socialist, it’s time to do some serious thinking about what ideas and attitudes underlie that social system.

On his website, Sanders favorably quotes a high-profile, fellow socialist — Pope Francis:

“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” – Pope Francis

“Such an economy kills.” So any degree of wealth inequality is murder. Murder is wrong, right? Murder should obviously be against the law, correct? So capitalism should be illegal, since it’s murder. When you enjoy the fruits of your efforts, and when the joy you experience in living makes you happier than a homeless person, you ought to feel guilty; kind of like a murderer ought to feel. Because when you say capitalism kills, you’re saying that keeping the products of what you earn kills. That’s what both the Pope and Bernie Sanders think. And you wonder why I call socialism the leftist version of guilt-ridden puritanism?

Defenders of Bernie Sanders keep saying that his socialism is “democratic” socialism, which means it’s the will of the people, and therefore this makes it right. Whose will, exactly? What about the 49 percent or the 45 percent who do not vote for him, assuming he’s elected president? They will have no choice about whether to participate in the income redistribution to follow. They will have no choice about living under a system where producers are no longer allowed to produce, and where medical care rises to the level (if we’re lucky) of the old-fashioned post office.

It’s important to understand that America has been on a socialist path for a long time now. It began with FDR’s New Deal, if not sooner, such as when the Federal Reserve was formed to control the national currency, making it easier for politicians to manipulate/inflate currency so as to spend. People who labeled these programs “socialist” at the time were considered crazy reactionaries. Yet Bernie Sanders is what ultimately came to pass, and had to come to pass. Whatever the precise origins of socialism in America, they did not originate with Bernie Sanders. But he is the first one, running for office with a significant following, to name the goal and promise to carry it to completion, once and for all.

A majority voting for something does not make it right. That majority is backed with guns, prisons, courtrooms, fines and all forms of coercion no less than a Hitler, a Castro or a Stalin imposing socialism is backed by the same things. Don’t kid yourselves. Ayn Rand had it right when she said Communism is murder while socialism is suicide. More precisely, democratic socialism is the murder-suicide of those who vote for it.

I will not pretend that Donald Trump offers a principled or practical alternative to Sanders’ socialism.  I’m only saying that socialism has become a real force in America, once the front runner of the political party currently holding the presidency says it’s time, at last, to go all the way.

Regardless of who ends up the nominee, Bernie Sanders remains a major force in that party. In the Democratic Party, at least, they are all socialists now.

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Dr Michael Hurd

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

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