Trump and GOP Make ‘socialism' the Bogeyman of 2020, as Democrats Bristle

WASHINGTON - Democrats bristle, but Republicans have successfully framed the 2020 election as a struggle against socialism - an ideology that not one Democratic contender says they advocate.President Donald Trump set the table in his State of the Union speech when he declared that “America will never be a socialist country.” He has reiterated the warning over and over since then, most recently on Saturday, when he set off thunderous applause at a major conservative gathering by depicting a push toward “total domination” by government.“Socialism is not about the environment. Socialism is not about justice. Socialism is about only one thing, It’s called power for the ruling class. Look at what’s happening in Venezuela,” he said at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. “The future does not belong to those who believe in socialism.”Democrats call the comparison ridiculous and inflammatory. Embracing a more expansive social safety net, they say, is fundamentally different from the autocratic socialism practiced in Cuba, Venezuela or the former Soviet Union.In Texas last year, 11-term Dallas congressman Pete Sessions tarred challenger Colin Allred as a socialist, but to no avail. Allred handily unseated him, 52-46.And Sen. Ted Cruz likewise slapped the label on Beto O’Rourke, who may soon join the Democratic presidential field. The El Paso congressman pushed back then, and again last month when Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders declared for president on Feb. 19, triggering a fresh round of Republican warnings about creeping socialism.Sanders and another self-described democratic socialist, freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez of New York, are driving much of the energy on the left, and Trump and other Republicans have invoked the specter of socialism to animate the president’s base.Only about one in five voters profess any fondness for socialism in opinion polls. So it’s a potent line of attack that puts Democrats on the defensive, forcing them to explain the difference between mainstream Democratic views, the more aggressive stances of Sanders and Ocasia-Cortez, and the despotic and economically ruinous systems in places like Cuba and Venezuela.“I’m a capitalist,” O’Rourke told reporters in El Paso the day after Sanders announced his campaign. “I don’t see how we’re able to meet any of the fundamental challenges that we have as a country without, in part, harnessing the power of the market.”  Continue reading...

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