Republicans have themselves to thank for socialism
an Opinion Article
- Socialism is on the rise in America, specifically Democratic socialism.
- 43% of Americans now say that some form of socialism is good for the country, compared to just 25% in 1942.
- While Republicans hate this, it turns out they have themselves to blame.
- It’s their own policies and actions that have positioned democratic socialism as a legitimate option for Americans.
Manny Fidel: The back-and-forth between Republicans and Democrats on socialism is enough to give you whiplash. But one thing is true: socialism is on the rise. 43% of Americans now say that some form of socialism is good for the country, compared to just 25% in 1942. Comrades are popping up like Starbucks all over America. As much as Republicans hate this, it turns out they have themselves to thank. It is their own policies and actions that have positioned democratic socialism as a legitimate option for Americans. Congratulations; you’ve played yourself. Here’s the trend. Republicans dismantle moderate liberal policies. They attack those policies as socialism and institute their own far-right ideas. That causes Democrats to respond with an even more left-leaning proposal. And because of that back-and-forth, more Americans are now considering giving some form of socialism a chance. Traditional socialism pushes for collective ownership of all means of production, either through direct ownership by workers or the government. Democratic socialism is the idea that the government should provide just the basic needs for its citizens, like healthcare, education, and more. This is the type of socialism being promoted by politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Obamacare is the perfect example. It was passed in 2010, and literally minutes later, a group of Republicans filed a lawsuit against it, saying it was Because Obamacare mandated that people sign up for healthcare or pay a fee, Republicans started calling it a government takeover, likening it to socialism.
They immediately obstructed enrollment efforts by passing laws intended to limit and defund Obamacare outreach. Fourteen red states eventually dropped out of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, leaving an estimated 3.6 million people uninsured. In 2017, Republicans wanted to repeal Obamacare’s rule that people have to sign up for healthcare or pay a fee. The Congressional Budget Office predicted that if they succeeded in doing this, many people would lose healthcare and the amount people pay per month would go up. Republicans repealed the rule anyways, and, of course, that helps keep premiums high. People started getting tired of the current system. In 2018, 79% of Americans were dissatisfied with the total cost of healthcare. They’re looking for relief, and the most ambitious and appealing alternative is “Medicare for All”. It’s a proposal that says the government should be providing Medicare not just for those over 65 years old, but for everyone. In fact, even moderate Democrats are pushing for what’s called the “public option,” a proposal for a government-run healthcare alternative that would compete with private insurers. But even modest reforms like the public option are being blasted as “socialist” by Republicans.
Because Republicans have been calling everything socialism forever, Americans found themselves defining socialism as something different than the traditional form. Since 1949, fewer people think socialism is about government control and more people think socialism is about equality, benefits, services, and Medicare for All.
Another example of Republicans contributing to socialism’s popularity: the Green New Deal. In the years leading up to the Trump administration, progressive efforts for the environment were looking relatively good. Activists were halting the construction of harmful pipelines across America, the world became more aware of climate change, and the Obama administration opted into the Paris accord, a legally binding agreement that aims to limit global warming.
However, when Trump became president, the country did a one-eighty on environmental policy. Trump signed orders that advanced the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines that Native Americans said threatened water resources and sacred sites. Republicans passed the resolution allowing for mining waste to be dumped in streams. Trump appointed Scott Pruitt, of all people, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt repeatedly sued the EPA while he was Oklahoma’s attorney general, and when Pruitt resigned from the post, Trump replaced him with a former coal lobbyist.
In June 2017, Trump pulled out of the Paris accord I mentioned earlier. I think you get the point. This made it clear to progressives that Republican views on climate change were detrimental to the environment. Then, in February 2019, AOC introduced the Green New Deal, a massively ambitious plan to curb bad emissions and create jobs in clean energy industries. It’s a response to the Trump administration’s callous actions towards the environment, and it’s pretty popular. Sixty-three percent of adults believe that the Green New Deal is a good idea, and 83% of Democrats agree. So, once again, even though Republicans contributed to the situation that led to this proposal, you can guess how they feel about it.
These attacks aren’t new, either. Let’s go back in time a bit. During the Great Depression, FDR was working to pass the New Deal, a series of public programs created to provide financial aid to the country. But wealthy businessmen, aka people who didn’t want the government to play a larger role in their lives, opposed the deal and formed a new party. The American Liberty League was so against the New Deal that they compared it to policies from the Soviet Union. In the following decades, this tactic went on to become a Republican favorite.
Before I go update my Tinder profile, I’ll give you one more reason why socialism is on the rise in America. It’s simply because, politically speaking, Trump’s policies have brought us so far to the right, it only makes sense that new opposition to Trump would come from the far left. This is how two democratic socialists were elected to Congress in 2018, and it might be what gives Bernie Sanders more steam heading into the election. Today’s political issues are complicated and nuanced. If the Republicans’ solutions to those issues only benefit those at the top, you can’t blame voters for looking for more radical alternatives. Godless union of the Soviet. I accidentally sounded like Bernie Sanders there.