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OPINION

Behind the Candidates' Smiling Faces

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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WASHINGTON -- All patriotic, civic-minded Americans at this point in the electoral cycle have seen quite enough of our presidential aspirants on the debate stage. For a certitude, we have seen enough of the Democrats! One evening of them is enough for me.
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Yet the question arises: What could possibly motivate them? Why do they call for more federal expenditures on infrastructure and health care and family leave, and weekends with pay or why not overtime pay? With 18 trillion in debt already amassed (at least half of it by the Prophet Obama), why do the Democratic candidates call for piling more debt on our children, the very same credulous gulls whose college tuition the Democratic candidates are promising to pay along with health care and personal debt reduction. When will these young dopes figure things out? It is they who are going to have to pay for the Democrats' giveaways. What motivates these Democrats?

I have for years argued that they are motivated by a liberal death wish. Their reckless foreign policy is motivated by a death wish. Their spending projects are motivated by a death wish. In foreign and in domestic policy, we see the liberals motivated by one colossal unconscious death wish. Yet perhaps that explains their psychiatric condition. What explains them at the personal level?

At the personal level, they are motivated by a) the motivation of feeling good about themselves or b) the motivation of controlling others for their own enrichment.

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Bernie Sanders is an example of the first type. He says he wants America to become a socialist state. He said the other night that America -- a nation of 320 million souls -- can be like Denmark -- a cozy little nation of 5.5 million souls. By the way, Denmark is also a nation that is steadily becoming less and less socialist and more and more capitalist. Why is Denmark becoming like America? Well, I suspect the Danes, like so many people in the world today, recognize that socialism has failed. Socialism has been failing for decades. The decrepit state of Europe with all the bankrupt welfare states is the consequence of the failure of European socialism.

The Danes want out. With Greece they have seen socialism's future and they know it fails. It is not a question of idealism. It is a question of the data. Nowhere on earth has socialism succeeded except as a totalitarian state, and even totalitarian states can only last so long. Recall if you will the late great Soviet Union.

Yet Sanders is not motivated by the empirical data of socialism. Two generations ago, Milton Friedman, the Nobel laureate in economics, explained what motivates Sanders. He, like all self-proclaimed socialists, wants to feel good about himself even as he leads an economy with no growth. Think about how much greener his America will be. Think about how much money the federal government will dole out. Think about where Sanders will be when the bills come in.

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The other night as I listened to the Democrats sing on I thought of which one of the two frontrunners I would prefer to get the nomination. There was Hillary Clinton lamenting that she sprang from a mother whose childhood poverty was so grievous that she was forced to live in a garbage can, at least until she could afford to upgrade to a discarded fruit crate. And there was Sanders whose early years were very sad of course and who in middle age had to overcome a serious spitting disorder to allow him to run for high office. He became mayor of Burlington, Vermont, and carried around a cup just in case he suffered a relapse. It is a fact that for at least the last 30 years, every Democratic candidate for president has had his or her very sad tale to tell. Remember Al Gore at the 2000 Democratic convention? Remember John Kerry?

So which would I prefer? Sanders the wooly-headed moral marvel or Clinton the girl who has had things so tough that she went to Wellesley and Yale and got cushy jobs in government knowing that at any moment her mom might return to that garbage can. Well, as I thought about it, my mind kept returning to motivation. What motivates Clinton? Obviously, she feels good about herself -- but she has always felt good about herself. She is not motivated by that. Rather, she is motivated by the need to control others for her own enrichment.

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She and Bill have enriched themselves prodigiously over the last 15 years with only limited access to government. With almost complete control of government, there will be no limits. Moreover, with the Clintons' demonstrated disregard for the rule of law, no one will be safe. That is why, if I were a Democrat, I would vote for Bernie. Even if he cannot add or subtract, a narcissist is preferable to a crook.

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