The 2020 presidential election is nearly 20 months away, but the race for the White House is already taking shape.

The Los Angeles Times and USA Today were among the publications in recent days reporting that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has established himself as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. That assertion is based in part on his fundraising efforts — he raised about $18 million in the first quarter of this year and is reported to have a warchest of $28 million — and the large, enthusiastic crowds he attracts, a factor Donald Trump showed in 2016 shouldn’t be ignored.

Also, as some have noted, while Sanders’ 2016 campaign may have started out as an effort to push progressive issues, this time, he’s taking aim at the big prize.

Sanders is a self-described Democratic socialist, and many, including yours truly, have warned about the Democratic Party’s move to the far left and its growing love for socialism.

While socialism has a proven history of failure, including the ongoing debacle in Venezuela, Democrats love to counter that inconvenient fact by pointing to the prosperity of the Nordic countries — Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

The problem with their argument is the Nordic countries aren’t socialist. Instead, they are market economies with high taxes and big welfare programs.

So, if we take Democrats, including Sanders, at their word, that what they want to do is mimic the Nordics, then what they actually want to do is increase tax rates while growing the welfare state. That sounds a lot to me like Democrats being Democrats. It’s a continuation, to new extremes, of two things they’ve advocated for decades. Kind of like Democrats on steroids.

And their objective hasn’t changed, either, even as their policies and ideas have drifted more extreme left; the more they can make people feel dependent on government for all or part of their livelihood, they more Democratic voters they can create.

And what’s really scary is how attractive they can make their vision sound.

"What Democratic socialism means to me is having a government which represents all people, rather than just the wealthiest people, which is most often the case right now in this country," Sanders said in a CBS story from 2015. “It is making sure that all of our people have health care as a right, education as a right, housing as a right, childcare as a right. That's what I believe.”

That sounds great, until you start doing the math and adding up the costs.

The news and opinion website Vox last year broke down the costs, using nonpartisan and left-leaning sources, of some of Sanders’ proposals.

Cost of Sanders’ free college program over the next decade: $807 billion. Cost, during the same span, of Sanders’ proposal for 12 weeks of paid family leave for new parents and people with serious health conditions: $270 billion. Cost of Sanders’ “Medicare for all” plan over the next 10 years: $32 trillion.

And while they were at it, Vox took a look at the idea of a guaranteed government job at $15 an hour, plus benefits, for anyone who wants one, which is being pushed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other far lefties. Cost over the next decade: $6.8 trillion. Some Democrats also favor forgiving student loan debt, which Vox estimated would run another $1.4 trillion.

Total cost, according to the Vox article, of so-called Democratic socialist proposals over the next decade: $42.5 trillion. Total cost over the next 30 years — brace yourself — $218 trillion.

If you feel like something is spinning right now, it’s probably your head.

Which brings me to this point, if anyone thinks a President Sanders and his Democratic colleagues would be able to accomplish all this by simply taxing the rich and corporations to kingdom come, you’re nuts. That means, eventually, they’re going to take aim at your pocketbook. And as the cost of these government goodies goes up over time, do you really think your tax bill won’t do the same thing?

Vilify the rich, raise taxes, grow the welfare state, increase dependency on government. They may be selling it as Democratic socialism, but in reality, there’s not much new here. It’s the same old Democratic song and dance, sung with an alt-left tune.

Lew Gilliland is assistant editor of The Daily Home. Reach him at lgilliland@dailyhome.com.

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