With a degree of comic disappointment weighing on my mind, I took a break from my attention to the New Hampshire primary last night to put my three year old and youngest daughter to bed and to read her a bedtime story. Moments later, my eight year old daughter delicately tiptoed into the room and interrupted our lamplight reading peace to inform me that someone foolish was on the television talking about taking and having things and that perhaps it was inappropriate and needed to be turned off. I paused from my reading to see if I could hear what exactly she was referring to. No less than the bombastic and avuncular tirades of Bernie Sanders came into my ears.
I wrapped up my own powerful oratory to my youngest daughter about ladybugs being blown one by one by the wind off of leaves and migrated downstairs to catch what was left of the speech. Since Sander’s speech clocked in at minutes that must have tallied up to roughly his age, he was still going. Indeed, Sanders was on a roll racking up his familiar story of class enemies that he would pillage from in order to redistribute income. The non-economist can be mistaken for lapping up his litany of unicorns and rainbows that will be “free” but simple math indicates that it all can’t be paid for purely on the backs of taxes on “Wall Street speculation.” Really, that would not even make a drop in the bucket of a push to fund single payer health, college tuition for all, and subsidizing the many people that will be thrown into unemployment when they lack the skills to justify a $15 an hour minimum wage. Perhaps math is not important at this point for Sanders followers, perhaps it is more of the principle and the anger that he has deftly channeled. Consider it the right time at the right place in this age of populism. Still, one wonders how many people, particularly those with something to lose, are adding up the math and recognizing that taxes on the mundane middle class would have to rise precipitously to fund this political revolution. One wonders if all of the supporters lose any sleep at night over the amount of government power and agency apparatus that would necessarily have to be created in order to confiscate and shift this amount of wealth, and just how exactly is it justice that a government official gets to decide who is deserving of the wealth that they created and just who is worthy of receiving that in an arbitrary confiscation and transfer of wealth. Recognizing that many of the Sander’s crowd are ruddy faced college kids, I am reminded of the Athenian leader Pericles in the 400s B.C. telling a crowd at a war funeral oration that, “For it is impossible for a man to put forward fair and honest views about our affairs if he has not, like everyone else, children whose lives may be at stake.” The thoughts of leaving a legacy for my children makes me far more cautious before willingly turning over precious liberty and freedom to arbitrary government rule that will no doubt be abused. Even if Sanders is sincere and honest, what happens when this new government entrenched power is handed to someone with lesser scruples? Such is the importance of leaving a legacy of individual liberties and individual responsibility to our children. Let their creative and innovative minds not be circumscribed and hindered by a heavy and confiscatory hand of government.
The innocent wisdom of my daughter was to be unnerved by the shrillness of the old man on the TV rampaging on about what he was going to take. Something fundamentally within her told her this wasn’t justice. It is here that I must inform the reader, as much as one might not believe it, that leaving the primary coverage on is something I regard as a lapse in my modus operandi. I have shielded my children from the political race as I have felt they are too young to get involved and burdened with the mess of politics until they have their own firm foundations and respect for knowledge, seeking of truth, and America’s Civic foundations. Thus, her observations were completely her own and from the wisdom and honesty of a child’s perspective. It is something I am still marveling at. And yes, I will admit to a beaming moment of pride in my daughter’s natural skepticism. She is a child that I continue to see as remarkably similar to her father. Luckily, I had her in bed too by the time Trump gave his victory speech, which I can only really compare to a revised form of the Jerry Springer show, complete with meatheads on stage and meatheads fist pumping and crying out, “build the wall, build the wall!”
I went to bed hoping to wake up having enjoyed the greatest of Mel Brooks parodies. Pinching myself, I went about my day pondering the realities of our populist age and hoping we somehow find enough veneration for our ideals of democracy and individual liberties to make them last.