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The Propaganda of Despair

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

What the Democratic Party pitches as compassion for minorities and the poor is nothing but forced dependence, and now Democrats are seeking to expand their targets.

Theirs is not a message of hope and opportunity but the propaganda of envy and helplessness. "You can't succeed because the deck is stacked against you," they say. "You don't have X because someone else has it." "The only reason someone else has X and you don't is because they have exploited you." And the big finale: "The only way  you can get X is by electing us to take it away from others and give it to you."

This self-serving sales pitch has made generations of Democrats very wealthy, but it hasn't done much to raise the standards of living for those in poverty.

What has moved people out of poverty is entrepreneurship and business ownership. All across the globe, countries that have embraced an entrepreneurial culture (including the rule of law, private property, and liberal human rights) have seen untold millions lifted out of poverty. Indeed, the U.N. and the World Bank reported that extreme poverty was reduced by half globally between 1990 and 2010.

Old-timey Democrats would have been happy about these success stories. But today's Democrats are not, because this evidence blows a C4-sized hole in their narratives that condemn capitalism and call for top-down control of national (and global) economies.

Some of this is a function of ignorance; most politicians (and leftist activists) have ZERO experience starting or running a business. Politicians spend money extracted by force (through taxes) and don't seem to get that commerce is  free exchange based upon quality, competition, and persuasion.

Increasingly, however, it is not ignorance of business but hostility toward it that is the force behind Democratic policies.

Democrats love to criticize business and, in so doing, convey the impression that all business is "big business." This is a deliberate and dangerous deception. The Democratic Party is, in fact, a globalist, corporatist party that  loves big business because big business makes big donations. The big businesses themselves shrug off any inflammatory "anti-business" rhetoric, knowing that they'll pay lobbyists to carve out exemptions from the most profit-hostile policies enacted by a Democrat-controlled Congress.

But 99% of the businesses in the United States are small businesses, and most are family-owned. According to the U.S. Census, of the roughly 30.2 million firms in this country, fully 80% of them -- 24.3 million -- do not employ anyone but the owners. Of the remaining 5.9 million firms, nearly 90% employ fewer than 20 people. Fewer than 50,000 employ more than 500 people, and there are only about 6,000 publicly-traded companies in the U.S. (And even that number has been shrinking every year for 20 years.)

This matters now more than ever because small businesses and the entrepreneurs who own them have been a bulwark against communism and socialism in the United States. Countries, where Marxist ideologies got traction, had primarily two classes of people: the extremely rich (often nobility), who owned land, and the extremely poor, who neither owned land nor could navigate the impenetrable bureaucracies to acquire land or business licenses.

By contrast, the United States has always been a place where anyone could start a business. The poor, minorities, and even immigrants who didn't speak a word of English have used that freedom to create their version of the American dream. Since the founding of this country, those small businesses have been Americans' ticket to financial security and upward mobility. With them, we built a middle and upper-middle class of millions of people who are impervious to the communists' propaganda of despair.

But collectivists understand this. And so, those businesses are under attack.

Front and center are COVID-19 lockdowns. They may have started as health protocols, but they are being twisted into political opportunities for collectivists whose objectives include the destruction of the United States economy and the stalwart objections business owners have to their statist aspirations.

Since just March, 100,000 small businesses have closed their doors for good. In typical fashion, this has hurt minority-owned businesses worst -- 41% of black-owned businesses closed from February through April. (And this is without mentioning the minority-owned businesses destroyed by looting and arson that Democratic mayors and governors allowed to happen.) States have had the freedom to set their own COVID policies, but if the puppet masters pulling putative president-elect Joe Biden's strings get their way, we'll soon have national lockdowns. Experts say that as many as 1 in 5 small businesses will close if another lockdown goes into effect.

This is nothing short of government-sponsored theft of mind-boggling levels Vladimir Lenin couldn't have dreamt of.

But fear not, all ye who have lost your jobs, your livelihoods, your life savings, your property, your dreams! The collectivists are here to save the day!

They'll say: "True, your business is dead. Your income is gone. You can't pay your mortgage or your rent. You can't pay off your loans. Things are terrible." They'll try to distract you from the fact that it was their policies that destroyed everything you owned in the first place. And then they'll try to lure you in with their socialist siren song of "universal basic income"; "forgiveness of student loan debt"; mortgage and rent "moratoria"; and "fair housing." (Because "Housing is a right!")

 "You can't fix it without us."

Gone is your independence, replaced by the ring in your nose by which they plan to lead you around. You can't vote against them now because they control everything you have.

That is how a relative handful of people who produce nothing become more powerful than millions of people who produced everything. They, not you, will decide which industries will prosper and which will shut down. They, not you, will decide which enterprises operate, what those enterprises make, how much they can charge, who owns them, what the owners can take from them, and what their employees must be paid.

That is the ugly reality hiding behind the left's propaganda of despair.

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