Politics & Policy

Bernie Sanders Is Too Liberal to Get Elected in Denmark

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during the Democratic presidential candidates debate in Westerville, Ohio, October 15, 2019. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
The Scandinavian countries Bernie Sanders professes to admire are not actually all that socialist.

If socialist wannabes in America fail to look at the facts, the United States might finally succumb to socialism. The American Left’s love affair with Scandinavian socialism is dangerous because it holds the possibility of hoodwinking enough of the populace into voting to replace the capitalist system that made America great with the socialist system that made Stalin all powerful and the people all hungry. They say the republic dies when the majority discovers it can vote to take other people’s stuff. Let’s hope that day remains elusive.

How pervasive is the Left’s admiration for Scandinavian “socialism”? Well, it’s definitely not limited to Bernie and his campaign followers. Hillary name-drops Sweden and Denmark as well. You can even go back 20 years and find Bill Clinton waxing poetic about Denmark. Bill even claimed that “Finland, Sweden and Norway offer more chances for individuals to out-earn their parents than the United States does.” No news on Chelsea moving to Scandinavia anytime soon.

But it is Bernie who is most enamored. In fact, according to CNN, “Bernie Sanders’ American Dream is in Denmark” and “Bernie Sanders . . . won’t stop talking about” the Danes. Sanders is quoted as saying: “In Denmark, there is a very different understanding of what ‘freedom’ means . . . they have gone a long way to ending the enormous anxieties that comes with economic insecurity.” Sanders plays the income-inequality trope: “Instead of promoting a system which allows a few to have enormous wealth, they have developed a system which guarantees a strong minimal standard of living to all—including the children, the elderly and the disabled.”

The irony is that while American socialists want to become like Scandinavian socialists, Scandinavian socialists want to become more like American capitalists. I remember hearing a fellow senator put it this way: “The American Left wants to become Western Europe. Western Europe wants to become Eastern Europe. Eastern Europe, sick of socialism and Communism, wants to become American capitalists!” Indeed, the Danes seem a bit squeamish about all the attention from Bernie and want to make sure that the rest of the world knows they are not, in fact, socialist and are open for business.

It’s not just the “socialist” label that might concern the Danes. Denmark’s economic success is inseparable from free trade and low corporate-income taxes. Bernie’s policy decisions are the opposite of policies the Danes believe foster their success.

Indeed, before Republicans lowered the U.S. corporate tax in 2018, Denmark’s corporate tax was significantly lower than ours. Bernie, on the other hand, has not been a fan of free trade or lower corporate-income taxes.

In the MSNBC New Hampshire Democratic presidential debate, Bernie responded, “I do not believe in unfettered free trade. I believe in fair trade which works for the middle class and working families, not just large multinational corporations. I was on the picket line in opposition to NAFTA. We heard people tell us how many jobs would be created. I didn’t believe that for a second because I understood what the function of NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China, and the TPP is, it’s to say to American workers, ‘Hey, you are now competing against people in Vietnam who make 56 cents an hour minimum wage.’”

On corporate taxes, Bernie’s opinion has been consistent: In the fall of 2018, on one of the Sunday shows, Bernie emphatically argued that if the Democrats retake the Senate, corporate taxes would “absolutely” go back up. However, the Scandinavian countries Bernie professes to admire believe the opposite. They support low, competitive corporate taxes and have embraced the free-trade agreements.

The Danes are vocal in distancing themselves from Bernie’s policies and quite emphatically don’t want to be known as a bad place to do business. The executive editor in chief for Politiken, a Danish newspaper, writes: “There is this idea that we are a heavily regulated society with a closed economy. The opposite is true.”

As Chris Moody of CNN writes, “In terms of pure semantics, few Danish politicians today would characterize themselves as ‘socialist’—even a ‘democratic socialist’—as Sanders does. The word has largely fallen out of fashion in recent decades.”

Lars Christensen, a Danish economist, writes: “When I hear Bernie Sanders talk about himself as a democratic socialist, it’s a little bit 1970s. The major political parties on the center-left and the center-right would oppose many of the proposals of Bernie Sanders on the regulatory side as being too leftist.”

Excerpted from The Case Against Socialism, by Rand Paul. Copyright 2019 by Rand Paul. Published with permission from Broadside Books and HarperCollins Publishers.

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