- - Wednesday, March 11, 2020

If only there were a vaccine for it. And the same goes for the coronavirus, as well. Like the dreaded disease, socialism threatens to infect the Democratic Party, thanks to the persistence of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in his pursuit of the presidency. Owing to the success of former Vice President Joe Biden in Tuesday’s mini-match, though, the danger has eased that a plague of utopian promises would spread rapidly enough to carry off the nation. Only Americans with compromised patriotism should be disappointed.

Mr. Biden captured Michigan by winning 53 percent of the ballots to Mr. Sanders’ 36 percent. He also prevailed in Mississippi and Missouri with 81 percent and 60 percent, respectively. Idaho was a tighter Biden win at 49 percent to 42 percent, and North Dakota’s caucuses went 53 percent to 40 percent for Mr. Sanders. Washington state teeters on a tightrope, refusing to fall into either camp. For his part, President Trump cruised easily through the Republican Party’s primaries, as if unopposed.

With 352 delegates at stake in six states, the most recent round of Democratic primaries was a minor skirmish compared to last week’s Super Tuesday donnybrook in which 1,357 delegates were on the block. Mr. Biden led Mr. Sanders 670-574 in the delegate count, and 53.5 percent to 35.5 percent in the Real Clear Politics polling average prior to the start of Tuesday’s balloting, leaving little doubt over the outcome.

“Tonight we are a step closer to restoring decency, dignity and honor in the White House,” the former vice president told supporters. “That’s our only goal.” More than a step, the outcome could prove to be the tipping point in the Democratic Party’s choice of a champion to challenge the president in November.

With Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s faltering campaign effectively blacked out, the two balding septuagenarians have been free to split the party into two competing interest groups: those who crave generous government benefits and those with the same cravings but who fear getting stuck with the bill. Since Mr. Sanders promises the most freebies, he appeals to those with the least — young people with few financial assets and the perennially poor.

It is clear that a President Sanders would spend hard-earned tax dollars like a drunken sailor with a boatload of cash, but at least he is transparent and unapologetic about his intent. His campaign website spells out the costs: Medicare for All: $47.5 trillion over 10 years; College for All: $2.4 trillion; Housing for All: $2.5 trillion; the Green New Deal that would transition the nation away from fossil fuels: $16.3 trillion. Luckily, voters are not lining up to empty their wallets over the gunwales.

Mr. Biden boasts his own set of “bold ideas” — 24 at last count. Topics range from “The Biden Plan for Health Care,” to “The Biden Plan for Education Beyond High School” and “The Biden Plan for Climate Change.” Some include up-front price tags, and others are as hard to sum as the candidate’s disjointed stump speeches. Still, Uncle Joe has managed to voice the need for some limits on federal giveaways. Bernie’s free health care for everyone, for example, alone would quickly empty the U.S. Treasury.

The portion of middle-class citizens who work, save and vote Democratic appear to grasp the fallacy that a free society can be erected upon a pile of free stuff. Seasoned by experience, they understand better than those just coming of age that the ballot box is all that separates them from the deprivations that have wrecked Sanders-style utopias in the now-defunct Soviet bloc and, more recently, Venezuela.

Lessons from the past are free for the taking and shouldn’t be forgotten. One attributed to 19th century political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville still rings true: “Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: While democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”

Leaving the past for others to ponder, Mr. Trump simply forecasts the future: “America will never become a socialist country.” To be sure, wags warn that it’s never wise to say “never.” There is little danger, though, in reckoning that Mr. Biden’s ascent and Mr. Sanders’ slump in primary polls mean that, thankfully, Democrats are demonstrating resistance to the dangerous contagion of socialism.

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