For starters, we must not sugarcoat what government is: A monopoly on violence. It is a monopoly on violence because they are allowed to be violent (and use threats of it) and see completely different consequences than that of the individual. If you strip government of this monopoly they have on violence, they can no longer be considered government. Theft and coercion are two of many examples of how government utilizes this monopoly. One could easily argue that the mere existence of government is immoral. But let’s assume that it’s a ‘necessary evil’ for the sake this article.
One can simply go to Bernie Sanders’ Facebook photos as well as his website to see that he has every intention of using government to implement his ideals. By using laws and mandates he seeks to redistribute wealth for the better. He wants to take on “the billionaire class.” He feels as if “we” have a moral responsibility to ensure that no American goes hungry. He wants equal pay for women. He believes things such as internet should be affordable. He wants to prevent guns from being used by “people who should not have them.” He thinks nobody should live in poverty that works 40 hours per week. He wants the US to lead the world in reversing climate change. He wants every parent to have paid parental leave from work. He wants to halt discrimination by race and sexual orientation. He wants everybody to have access to healthcare. He wants to create millions of jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. He wants tuition-free college.
These are just some of the views Bernie has been adamantly expressing on the campaign trail.
I am not suggesting that someone is automatically immoral for having these views. But there is a significant difference between getting a group of your colleagues to spread your message in hopes to change than world for the better, and wanting to use coercion and threat of violence to orchestrate your ideal vision of how the world should be. This is where Bernie Sanders and his supporters’ humanitarianism becomes illegitimate. Utopias do not exist. If every individual were asked about their gripes with America, you’d give different answers as you go down the line. If you ask those same individuals for solutions to these problems, you will get different solutions and plans of action. Because of this, one does not have the moral high ground simply because they want to use government to centrally plan and force everybody to be a part of it.
Throughout history, we can point to mandates that were designed to ‘help,’ but have ended up in economic disasters. We will forever disagree about the economics behind certain laws and mandates. But if we remain consistent with our morals we understand that it is wrong to initiate violence on, coerce, and steal from peaceful people. This is exactly what government does. If we assume that it is a necessary evil to protect citizens, that still does not justify using it to fix social and economic issues. So the problem with Bernie Sanders and his supporters aren’t their gripes, but the fact that they want to use the monopoly of violence to centrally plan and fix the things they have issue with. Even if the cause is a just one, it becomes immoral when using coercion and threats of violence on peaceful people who were otherwise nonviolent and peaceful. You cannot logically consider yourself a caring humanitarian, but you can call logically be an authoritarian.
If you want to take on “the billionaire class,” you can spread your message, gain supporters of this cause, and not contribute to the services provided by “the billionaire class.” If you think people have a moral responsibility to ensure that no American goes hungry, you can voluntarily help those that aren’t fortunate enough to eat, with your own money. If you want equal pay for women, you can preach your cause and encourage businesses to pay women the income you desire. If you believe internet should be affordable, you can urge businesses to make it as such. If you want to prevent guns from being used by people you feel should not have them, you can host meetings and start organizations that highlight gun usage. If you think people that work 40 hours a week shouldn’t live in poverty, you can put forth a voluntary course of action to help those individuals that work but live in poverty. If you want the US to lead the world in reversing climate change, you can educate your fellow man and woman on climate change. If you want every parent to have paid parental leave from work, you can support businesses that support these policies. If you want to halt discrimination by race and sexual orientation, you can spread a message of tolerance. If you want everybody to have access to healthcare, you can pay out of pocket for those who do not have access to it. If you want tuition-free college, you can band together with like-minded individuals to pitch in for scholarships. You can do a million things other than passing a law to pay for it and seizing private property and/or jailing people because they do not want to or cannot afford to contribute.
Just because someone is against being forced to do something, does not mean they are against the act altogether. There are also government policies, laws, and mandates that have enabled the “1%.” But getting rid of these laws is one thing, enacting new ones to steal from people is another. It is logically inconsistent to suggest that you care about human welfare, yet want to threaten them with violence. There are many people who support your cause and there is nothing stopping you from helping each other, help others. You can do this voluntarily. But there will always be people who disagree with your gripes or disagree with your plan of action to fix the issue.
So either Bernie Sanders and his supporters do not realize that they are advocating for use of force on peaceful people to enact what they deem fit, or they do not care. But it certainly is bit of an oxymoron to go around parading as if you are this loving and caring person when you blatantly want to utilize government’s monopoly on force and violence. It’s self-righteousness, if anything. This is not exclusive to Bernie Sanders or his supporters. But they so happen to be loud and passionate and want to make it appear as if they care about the wellbeing of others more so than their counterparts.
They can’t seem to disassociate basic and voluntary human interaction from government.
This article was edited for grammar, style, and spelling, but not for content. The views expressed are that of the author, Eric July, exclusively, and do not reflect that of BeingLibertarian.com or Being Libertarian LLC
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