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Caseythoughts I've been described as a 'political animal', and I suppose that's true as far as it goes. There have been more than a couple of people (across the political spectrum) who told me while I was doing my radio gig that they decided to enter local politics because of the influence of my show and my questioning of local elected officials. I love the tussle, the 'conflict', the clash of ideas that imbue politics with its unique attraction. And though the word 'politics' gives some (many?) of us/you queasy feelings these days (please remember that the Greek root of the word politic is 'offend no one') I still love to linger, ponder, consider and enter the fray of the small and large issues, minus the name-calling and mindless drivel which today often passes for policy discussion. Give me the genuine exchange of ideas and ideals any day.

So, I thought I might look at a few of the larger issues facing us for the next couple of weeks. Open up our minds and arms to grasp some of the issues which have faced us for a long time involving philosophy of a free country; those issues which in many cases are part and parcel of the origins of our country. I'll be honest, not necessarily both sides, as this is an opinion column (remember, as they say, opinions are like belly buttons, everybody has one...), my 'side' of the coin. This week socialism, perhaps next week the call to abolish the Electoral College, for two instances.

A magazine cover a few weeks ago instilled a sense of horror in me: 'When Did We All Become Socialists?' Since when did that blanket and untrue statement become fashionable, much less even vaguely true? There seems to be some who are trying to tell us that our belief in certain government rules, regulations and programs make us 'socialist', or on the path to a 'higher form' of self-government. Maybe even implying the 'dialectic' or path of 'history', according to Marx. Well, not this old man. I'm a capitalist (a poor one, be assured, but convinced of its rightness none the less) to my pink capitalist toes.

But I thought you might like some food for thought about socialist thinking from those who want to direct American policy in the socialist 'way' should their highest office aspirations come true. I'm speaking of course of Bernie Sanders, but more importantly those who are espousing his thinking and would be the real policy makers should he (or one of his minions) be elected. Don't laugh: Sanders has an excellent chance to be nominated by the Democrats next year. There's a lot of people who have ante'd up millions to get him elected, and if he should win I thought it's important for you to read what his staffers have said and written, ahead of the potential demise of the United States and the great economic miracle of capitalism.

Sanders' speechwriter David Serota, in in 2013 entitled 'Hugo Chavez's Economic Miracle': "Are there lessons to be learned from Venezuela's decision to avoid [the] subsidization route and instead pursue full-on nationalization?...Are there any constructive lessons to be learned from Chavez's grand experiment with more aggressive redistribution?"

Grand experiment in WHAT? A million percent inflation and economic disaster which Chavez's minions blame on us here in the United States?

Or, what about Bernie Sanders' political director, Analillia Mejia, who spent part of her childhood in Venezuela, told the Atlantic in 2016: "It was better to live on poverty-level wages in a shantytown in Venezuela than on a garment worker's salary in Elizabethtown, New Jersey." She actually SAID that.

Sanders' senior policy adviser Heather Gautney attended a World Social Forum in Caracas in 2006 and wrote about how Caesar Chavez had "implemented a serious program to redistribute the wealth of the country and bolster social welfare." I guess the 'grand experiment' must be working: up to a quarter of Venezuela's population has run away with nothing but the clothes on their back, another half of the country is starving, and the military is running what's left of the economy. Bolster social welfare, indeed. Another fine example (like Cuba and North Korea, not to mention China's Cultural Revolution) on how socialism will be the next step in mankind's progress.

Ms. Gautney as a sociology professor at Fordham has written that "some places, institutions, forms of property and rights should be collectively owned and enjoyed...if neo-liberal forces of privatization and deregulation have indeed dispossessed people of these forms of social wealth, then 'occupation' should be understood as an act of repossession in which persons or groups take back what was once common." I hear Marx and Lenin cheering from their graves, or maybe it's the humorless laughter of the nineteen-sixties radicals who believed revolution meant everything would be 'free'. Except it only happens in places and times where the gun has first place (Mao's 'truth from the barrel of a gun') and those intellectuals who survive get the fruits of the 'revolution'.

And, I can't resist, one more bon mot from the socialist/communist playbook from those who would actually be running things and setting policy and national direction should socialist thinking win out. Brialna Joy Gray, Sanders' national press secretary, in a recent column for 'Intercept', wrote: "There will be no racial equality under capitalism...voters should be clear that 'recognizing' disparities and doing something about them through aggressive redistributive policies are not the same thing."

These people are serious about what is, in reality, Marxism and collectivism as seen in Cuba, North Korea, Soviet Russia and the 'People's Republic' of China. They have declared warfare on what is essentially the proud foundation of what made the United States the richest, proudest and, so very truly, the most generous nation in history. The war of words has long ago begun, the warfare of ideas and the effort to bring America to its economic knees has also begun. These people apparently mean to destroy much, if not all, of our economic foundation.

But, I declare one caveat to this: This is not about two candidates (whoever they may be) in 2020, for neither the incumbent nor any apparent opponent has the character or the ability as leader to command a reasonable majority of voters to a higher plane of thinking and direction. The media will tell you it is about Trump and his opponent, but it is not about mere candidates in 2020 (OMG, another choice between the 'lesser of two evils'? Again?).

It is about things which are much higher than these puppets posing as candidates for our nations' highest office. The bully pulpit needs a statesman/stateswoman who understands and appreciates our history and our mandate to serve the highest ideals which we have inherited. Not selfish egoism in one candidate's case, and not loony Robin Hood and discredited schemes to give away or steal hard earned wealth as the other potential candidates espouse.

But even if 'none of the above' currently fits the total crop of presidential candidates, we will still be faced, unfortunately, with a mere choice of personalities, while never being given an opportunity to really look at them in a rational manner by much of the national media. This campaign may be the 'shot heard round the world' in a second revolution which bodes not well for our coming generations, no matter who 'wins'. It may not be a choice, yet, between the 'late great America' or Venezuela, but it sure seems to be heading in that direction. Read as much as you can, learn as much as you can, listen as much as you can. Our history and our future depends on it, perhaps now more than ever.


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