Now that the first Democratic debates are behind us, it is time to put them in perspective. What stands out for me was how anti-American many of the candidates were. They don’t like our country and want to change it into something profoundly different.

First of all, they don’t want the United States to have borders. They intend to throw our nation open to anyone who decides to come and stay. Sure, they claim this is not true, but their policies put the lie to this assertion. Thus, when Julian Castro said he wanted to decriminalize illegal immigration, few demurred.

Castro insists that we turn unlawfully crossing our border into something like a parking ticket. In other words, there would be no negative consequences for doing so. Furthermore, he wants us to stop deporting people — with the possible exception of getting rid of murderers.

If this is not open borders, I don’t know what is. In addition, he, and all of the candidates in the second debate, would give free medical care to everyone who arrived on our shores, irrespective of their legal status.

This, of course, is an invitation for every person around the world to inundate our nation. Free goodies, without any negative repercussions, has to sound wonderful to people living in the third world. Why wouldn’t they pick up stakes and move here?

But what if they did? One result would be that our culture would be overwhelmed. Were tens, if not hundreds of millions, of people without democratic traditions to flood our country, the way of life that enabled us to remain democratic would be destroyed. We too, in short, would revert to third world conditions.

Not only would our political system be put in jeopardy, but so would our economy. Despite what the liberals say, tens of millions of peasants will not improve our living conditions. Without the skills to fit into a technological workplace, they would be a drain on our social services — and personal incomes.

In addition to wanting to protect foreigners rather than American citizens, the Democrats flaunted their hatred of capitalism. Especially on the first night, they repeatedly insulted the wealthy and our corporations. Elizabeth Warren was particularly guilty of blaming of our nation’s ills on these sources.

At every turn, people with money or power were accused of being immoral. Forget about the American Dream where everyone was supposed to have the opportunity to rise as far as their talents and energies could take them. The Liberal Dream is evidently about tearing successful folks down.

This is the politics of envy — pure and simple. It is not about self-improvement, but putting the government in charge of our well-being. We are supposed to feel better if we jointly confiscate everything the affluent have, irrespective of whether this makes the rest of us poorer.

And mind you, it would. Removing the incentive for anyone to start a business or to make it efficient would eventually reduce the size of the pie available to share. All of us would have less once government functionaries took total control.

America became rich because of capitalism. Sure some people got super-wealthy, but most of us live far more comfortably than our ancestors. The economy is not a zero-sum game. As long as our total wealth grows, more of us can share in the benefits — including the poor.

Given these facts, what did the Democratic candidates want? Do they hope we become more like Venezuela? I know that Americans don’t remember history (neo-socialists certainly don’t), but Hugo Chavez began the process of impoverishing his homeland by promising voters a larger cut of the country’s oil revenue.

As it happens, the government is incompetent to run every jot and tittle of our lives. Can you imagine the people on those debating stages making the decisions at Microsoft or Amazon.com? They were not even savvy enough to make coherent verbal arguments.

Those paying attention should have realized that the debaters were asking us to relinquish our freedom in exchange for imaginary benefits. Virtually all of them argued that we ought to trust them to protect our welfare. But I am not so sure they are worthy of this confidence.

Indeed, after the debate was over a man on the street was asked to explain his preference for socialism. He replied that where there is socialism people have no problems. Talk about not understanding history. Talk about sacrificing the achievements of the American experiment in favor of despotism and poverty!

Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D., is a professor emeritus of sociology at Kennesaw State University.

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