A year ago, in his 2019 State of the Union, Donald Trump vowed, “Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”
In response, liberals were hysterical, as if Donald “McCarthy” Trump had called for nothing less than a resurrection of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, a reboot of Dr. Fred Schwarz’s Christian Anti-Communism Crusade. I wrote about the hysteria at the time, giving examples from Bernie Sanders to the New York Times. Remember Bernie’s grim expression when Trump said that? The old Trotskyist looked like he was ready to leap from his seat and denounce the president as a capitalist reptile. The Times ran a wimpy piece, “Painting Socialists as Villains, Trump Refreshes a Blueprint.”
“President Trump has proved himself adroit at creating villains to serve as his political foils,” whined the Times. “In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, he introduced a new one: socialists.”
In the Washington Post, E. J. Dionne fired off a defiant retort, insisting that “Trump’s War on Socialism Will Fail.” “He wants to tar all Democrats as ‘socialists,’ ” Dionne insisted, “and then define socialism as antithetical to American values.”
Of course, socialism is antithetical to American values. We don’t need Donald Trump to define it as such.
In lockstep with Dionne and the Times was the longtime citadel antithetical to American values: People’s World, successor to the Daily Worker, mouthpiece of Communist Party USA. The comrades blared a headline that mocked, “A specter is haunting Donald Trump — the specter of socialism.”
Even a relative unknown, a former mayor from South Bend, Indiana, with a strange last name, condemned Trump. Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper early last year, Pete Buttigieg ominously raised the bogeyman of a bygone era:
I think he’s [President Trump] clinging to a rhetorical strategy that was very powerful when he was coming of age 50 years ago, but it’s just a little different right now. If you grew up during that Cold War period, then you saw a time in politics when the word “socialism” could be used to end an argument. Today I think a word like that is the beginning of a debate, not the end of a debate. Look, America is committed to democracy, and we’re essentially a market-based economy. But you can no longer simply kill off a line of discussion about a policy by saying that it’s socialist. If someone my age or younger is weighing a policy idea and somebody comes along and says, “You can’t do that, it’s socialist,” I think our answer will be, “Is it a good idea or is it not?” … So, I think the word has mostly lost its meaning. It’s certainly lost its ability to be used as a kill switch on debate.
That was Pete’s Obama-esque way of saying to President Trump, “Hey, Donald! The 1950s have called. They want their foreign policy back!”
Well, what a difference a year makes. Now, with a lifetime socialist surging through the Democratic primary, Pete sings a different tune. He’s flashing the “s-word” to effectively end a debate. Today, at least when talking about his chief rival, Pete sounds the siren, warning the world of the old codger’s socialism.
On the debate stage in Vegas, Pete condemned this “socialist who thinks that capitalism is the root of all evil.”
After Sanders’ landslide victory in Nevada, Pete warned, “Sen. Sanders believes in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans.” He pleaded, “Before we rush to nominate Senator Sanders, let us take a sober look for what is at stake for our party, for our values.”
Amen, Pete. Preach it, brother!
Pete’s not alone in these concerns about socialism. During the debate in South Carolina on Tuesday night, Bernie was hit from all sides for his idiotic remarks on Cuba to Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes — a continuation of ludicrous Bernie assessments about Castro that can be found on the public record back to at least 1985. Sanders’ brethren begged to differ in South Carolina.
“Sanders was called out for his complimentary words about the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and sympathies with other communists,” the Los Angeles Times wrote dispassionately, with no objection, refraining from its usual cries of “foul!” when a Republican does the same.
Sign up Mayor Pete and the whole lot of them for Trump’s anti-red crusade. In fact, sign up a bunch of Dems.
Take Chris Matthews, a veteran anti-communist Democrat rightly furious with this nonsense. “The issue of this campaign, it is that word ‘socialism,’ ” Matthews said.“Some people like it, younger people like it, those of us like me, who grew up in the Cold War and saw some aspects of it, if there visiting places like Vietnam, like I have, [and seeing countries] like Cuba, being there, I’ve seen what socialism’s like, I don’t like it, okay?” Incensed, Matthews shouted, “It’s not only not free, it doesn’t frickin work!”
James Carville seconds that. In a recent interview, the serpentine Louisianan raged, “Look, Bernie Sanders isn’t a Democrat. He’s never been a Democrat. He’s an ideologue. And I’ve been clear about this: If Bernie is the nominee, I’ll vote for him. No question. I’ll take an ideological fanatic over a career criminal any day. But he’s not a Democrat.”
That’s absolutely what Bernie is: an ideological fanatic. And Carville is especially spot-on bitterly noting that Bernie isn’t a Democrat, or at least wasn’t until he sought the party’s presidential nomination. He was officially an Independent, and a socialist. In 1980, Bernie was a formal presidential elector to the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party, not the Democratic Party.
These words come not from the mouth of The Donald but from leading Democrats. The list will grow.
Of course, plenty of liberals will excuse and defend Bernie. They will prep the Democratic Party masses for his run at Trump. The notoriously partisan Paul Krugman is laughably telling New York Times readers that the self-identified lifetime socialist “isn’t a socialist.” Many liberals will nod and dutifully follow, echoing the party line. They will shuffle along like sheep while their party continues to veer hard left, as they did with the party’s extremism on abortion, same-sex marriage, transgenderism, and whatever else. We can count on numerous Democrats backing off on criticizing socialism if Bernie gets the nomination, turning their guns on Donald Trump, bemoaning his unseemly “McCarthyism” every time he directs the s-word at the socialist.
But in the meantime, it’s refreshing to watch Democrats zinging socialism all of a sudden. A year ago, when Donald Trump did so, well, it was a sign of dark times. It’s a new day, or at least if and until Bernie gets the nomination.