Trump is making ‘socialism’ sound pretty damn good

By | February 14, 2019

Jamelle Bouie writes:

Only a handful of Democrats in Congress (and just one Democrat-adjacent presidential contender) identify as “socialist,” but they appear to be the chief targets of President Trump as he faces a confident Democratic opposition in the House of Representatives. “We are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” he said in his State of the Union address two weeks ago, declaring that “America will never be a socialist country.”

The White House actually presaged this strategy last October, just before the midterm elections, in a report from its Council of Economic Advisers. They cite calls for single-payer health care and higher tax rates as evidence that “socialism is making a comeback in American political discourse,” with, they argue, dire consequences for the American economy. Next came the president’s address to Congress. And this week at a rally in El Paso, Tex., Trump went after the “radical left,” blasting a caricature of progressive climate policies. “I really don’t like their policy of taking away your car, of taking away your airplane flights, of ‘Let’s hop a train to California,’” he said, bizarrely adding that under the Green New Deal resolution introduced by liberal Democrats, “You’re not allowed to own cows anymore.”

The clear expectation is that many or most Americans will recoil at any hint of “socialism,” either on principle or because of its association with Venezuela, which the administration has tried to elevate as a major adversary. That might have been true in Trump’s cultural and political touchstone, the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan’s hard-line anti-Communism defined American foreign and domestic policy. But in 2019, the Cold War is long over. The Soviet Union is a memory. And there is no comparable global ideological struggle over economic systems that might give weight to Trump’s rhetoric. There’s not much fear to monger. Instead, the president’s decision to make “socialism” his opponent might have the opposite effect, potentially bolstering the movement and its ideals. [Continue reading…]

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