In the old crime series, “Dragnet,” detective Joe Friday always said, “Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.” Let us try and do that as we analyze our current political choices in the run-up to our next general election. Let us also try to get beyond the personal hate of the key players — no TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) vilification of Trump or Pocahontas epithets of Elizabeth Warren allowed. Just the facts, or as Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal so cogently stated, “Everyone knows the truth about politics.”

Well, what do we know? We know that the conservative platform is based upon a foundation of free market capitalism. This free-will system of personal opportunity gives each citizen an unchecked right to pursue his or her dreams of personal and economic goals. Importantly, it does not guarantee outcomes. Outcomes will differ depending upon effort, ingenuity, perseverance and society’s need or acceptance of what each of us has to offer. This system is working, supported by two current facts – the Labor Department reported just last month that job openings exceeded the number of unemployed Americans by 1.2 million, and the median household income rose to nearly $62,000 – a record high in the American Community Survey. This fact underpins the fundamental conservative belief in a free society of self-determination and self-reliance.

This brings us to the role of government. Conservatives are often accused of being anti-government. Not true – they espouse limited government. They support government services that are necessary for a well-ordered society: police, fire, courts, postal, educational and medical. Of course, critics will quickly challenge the latter two. However, while conservatives support a basic public education system, they reserve the right to pursue individual choices for their children. This includes the right to not participate in the public system and to homeschool children, or opt for a nontraditional approach and enroll children in parochial or private schools. After all, isn’t this why we have public and private universities which have served our country well for more than 200 years?

Similarly, conservatives believe that people should have a choice with respect to their medical services. Medicare and Medicaid for those citizens our government determines should receive services, based upon age or disability, are absolutely supported. Further, public health and emergency services – with the right to opt out or to pursue other services through personal or employer support is part of the conservative platform.

Now, let us take a look at what the progressives are proposing for us in the Democratic debates. There is no question that their platform has moved dramatically to the left in stark contrast to the free-market capitalism described above. In fact, the party has lurched so far leftward that one candidate, Joe Biden, is viewed by some Democrats as the preferred choice for no other reason than that he is seen as somewhat moderate. Perhaps this fact more than any other best illustrates how much the future of the country is poised upon the choice between free-will capitalism and socialism – or democratic socialism, as apologists call it.

Whether it be Biden or Warren, the left’s agenda can be fairly identified as socialism. In fact, this socialist agenda is openly promoted by the Midcoast Branch of Democratic Socialists of America, which publishes in this paper. What is that agenda? Here are the facts – taken directly from current poll leader Warren’s website. Nomenclature is everything and so Warren audaciously titles her socialist platform the “Accountable Capitalism Act.” Her “capitalism” is Medicare for all, free college education, a guaranteed minimum wage, a carbon tax, repeal of illegal immigration statues, no limits on abortion, slavery reparations and elimination of the Electoral College. Concomitantly, there is a mind-numbing cost for this, and the sheer impact of how it will be funded absolutely defines socialism.

Here are the facts of how she proposes to fund this “capitalism.” Shareholder companies would be required to change focus from profit to the interests of “the work force,” the “community,” and the “local and global environment.” Companies with receipts over $1 billion would pay a heavy surtax. With confiscatory profit containment, and without shareholder direction and investment, entrepreneurship would surely end. Under this mantle of suppression, who would ever strive to create or invest in a large business? In fact, who would want to start a small business – knowing that the socialist (excuse me, “capitalist”) bureaucrats would be coming for them next? Free enterprise as we know it today would end.

But it gets worse. In what is the clearest evidence of Warren’s socialism, she wants to tax the accumulated wealth of the American citizenry. And who are they? Retirees! The Federal Reserve tells us that people between the ages of 55 and 74 own 73 percent of common stocks and the same share of America’s wealth. This is where Bill de Blasio’s, “Americans have a lot of money, it’s just in the wrong hands” comes in. Warren would tax this wealth – including a proposed tax on unrealized capital gains. Socialists endorse this redistribution of wealth. But is it fair to punish those who have spent a lifetime working and saving over the course of their careers? Further, while the average wealth of this targeted age group appears high, the much-fairer median wealth is far lower ($234,000 – less than a quarter of the average) and includes the value of their biggest asset – their homes.

In this election, Americans will have a clear choice. Examine the free enterprise and socialist facts of the campaigns and choose between the capitalist system that built this great country, or the socialist system that, while redistributing wealth, destroys it. Is the hate for Donald Trump worth the tragic end of our American way of life?