Running against socialism
President Trump: Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country. (Applause.)
Congress: USA! USA! USA!
“It’s increasingly obvious in the public debate it’s a choice between freedom and socialism.”
- Vice President Mike Pence
"Now that Nancy Pelosi is Speaker, voters are seeing the dangerous policies set forth by the socialist Democrats on a daily basis."
- Congressman Tom Emmer
"It's time to stop worrying about what the Republicans will say. It's true that we embrace a far left agenda, they're going to say we're a bunch of crazy socialists. If we embrace a conservative agenda, you know what they're going to do? They're going to say we're a bunch of crazy socialist. Let's stand up for the right policy, go up there and defend it."
- Mayor Pete Buttigieg
The GOP has a brand new, can't lose, sure fire strategy for winning in 2020.
The big plan is to ― wait for it ― attack Democrats as socialists.
Wow! Didn't see that one coming, didja?
Or maybe you did.
Every single political actor since the late 19th century advocating for some form progressive social change ― whether it be economic reform, challenging America’s racial caste system or advocating for women’s rights or LGBT rights ― has been tarred as a socialist or a communist bent on destroying the American Free Enterprise System.
In the U.S., this dates back at least as far as the first presidential candidacy of “Prairie Populist” William Jennings Bryan in 1896...
The Obama years were a golden time for over-the-top accusations of socialism. Obama was “a hardcore socialist,” according to billionaire David Koch. His stimulus plan was “one big down payment on a new American socialist experiment,” then-Republican House leader John Boehner said. The U.S. will “have effectively ceased to be a free-enterprise society” after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said during his 2012 presidential campaign. Fox News host Glenn Beck said that Obama was enacting a 100-year old socialist plot originally hatched by Presidents Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, and Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat. Then-Reps. Allen West (R-Fla.) and Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) both intimated that they had lists of Democrats in Congress who were secret socialists or “members of the Communist Party.”
Even Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, was labeled as “dangerously close” to socialism by former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, during the 2016 election.
With so much demonisation of socialism, you would think that socialism would be more unpopular than ever.
Yet 43% of Americans now say that some form of socialism is good for the country, compared to just 25% in 1942. So obviously the problem is that Republicans haven't yelled "Socialism!" enough, right?
Thus this new campaign by the GOP, with it's laser focus on socialism in the Democratic Party, should turn those numbers around.
Twenty-eight percent of voters nationwide said their feelings about “socialism” will impact how they vote “a lot” next year, according to the latest Morning Consult/Politico survey, down 6 percentage points since March. What’s more, the share of Republican voters who said they were thinking a lot about socialism when it comes to their 2020 vote dropped 12 points, from 49 percent to 37 percent.
So the more than Republicans try to smear Democrats as socialists, the less people care? What's going on here?
According to economists at the Cato Institute, much of America’s youth has been "led into a state of confusion by Sen. Bernie Sanders."
So the problem is those sneaky socialists and their massive anti-capitalist propaganda infrastructure. Wall Street is powerless against it.
Or maybe, just maybe, Republicans should look in the mirror if they wanted to know who to blame for the rise in popularity of socialism in America.
The trouble is that as an insult, "Socialism!" doesn't have the zing it once did. And that's Republicans' own fault...
But more importantly, in the time since, Republicans have attacked almost anything Democrats wanted to do as socialism. Modest tax increases on the wealthy? Socialism! Regulations to lower carbon emissions and reduce the risk of climate catastrophe? Socialism! Health-care reform built on maintaining private insurance but with stronger protections for consumers? Socialism!
After hearing that for so long, a lot of young people in particular seem to have concluded that "socialism" means little more than "policies that are more liberal than the Republican Party would prefer." In other words, they've accepted the Republican view of what socialism is.
It's actually real easy to understand.
The Republicans are the Boy Who Cried Socialism.
Some people believe them. Some people don't. But it doesn't matter either way because what they are calling "socialism" is just the basic human decency of a social safety net and the protection of what society usually considers important.
No longer merely a shorthand for far-left ideology, it’s become a complete farce, invoked in much the same way as the chupacabra or a Wendigo, a generic placeholder for an unknown, eldritch evil lurking in the shadows.
While Real Red Blooded Americans™ are playing baseball with apple pie on grandma’s farm, or whatever it is the GOP thinks Americans should actually be doing with their lives, socialists plot to destroy everything the nation stands for by trying to provide people with healthcare, clean air, renewable energy, and education for jobs of the future. Should they succeed, America will have to give up its post-1980s “I-got-mine-screw-you” ethos and actually care about what happens to its population instead of merely exploiting their frustrations for cheap political points.
Wait a minute, why doesn’t that sound horrifying? Because it’s not.
One thing is for certain is that we'll be hearing a lot about socialism in the coming year. Republicans are going to be stoking that fear like if they were talking about terrorists, or immigrants, or immigrant terrorists.
This goes double if Sanders wins the nomination.
It appears that Republicans think that this is their Ace, and that Trump should be the one pushing it. They want to demonize public health care and government services for the poor in the face of a recession that people are ready to blame Trump for.
Could they be wrong?
Instead of destroying the Democratic nominee by pinning on her a label that everyone agrees is horrific, he's much more likely to make socialism more popular than ever.
Which is why actual socialists — or democratic socialists, who are almost certainly far greater in number in the United States right now than the pure variety — should be more than happy to see Trump wage a war on socialism. It's the best advertisement they can get.