"Republicans and other Trump-type Americans probably believe that socialism is essentially anti-democracy."
After four years of Donald Trump in the White House, candidate Joe Biden and his Democratic Party had a host to throw at the Republican Party: Bad economic policies, abuse of presidential power, destruction of America’s standing in the world, questionable behavior toward America’s enemies, ignorance of the workings of the U.S. governmental system, dishonesty, corruption, contempt toward the anti-climate-change movement and, in 2020, unwillingness to effectively deal with the health crisis.
By contrast, the Republicans had only one issue to throw at Mr. Biden and his Democratic colleagues: Socialism. The Democratic Party was a socialist party, Donald Trump and the Republicans charged, and Joe Biden and his people would lead America down the socialist road to perdition.
Vote for the likes of Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders and you will wake up as citizens of a socialist U.S., thundered Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans.
Was being socialist a valid Republican campaign issue against the Democrats? Had Joe Biden and his fellow-Democrats become a party of socialists in the mold of the socialist parties of Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan? Most important of all, is being socialism-oriented akin to being infected with a COVID-19-type virus? The answer to these and similar questions is a definite and emphatic No.
The Republicans closed the Democrats’ alleged socialistic sentiments as its point of attack against Joe Biden and his party because they had no choice; there were no major chinks in the Democrats’ political armor. The outgoing Obama administration had left behind a healthy economy, a powerful military, respect befitting the leader of the free world, strong democratic institutions and general domestic tranquility.
Donald Trump and the Republicans could not effectively attack the Democrats on any of those points. So they chose to hit the Democrats on what they thought would be their weakest point: The socialistic ideas of the Democratic Party’s progressive way. Unfortunately for the Republicans, the pro-socialism charge did not resonate with the voters.
The 2020 election was not the first U.S. national political exercise in which socialism figured as a political issue. Believing that socialist philosophy is not far removed from communist philosophy, many Americans continue to believe that socialists are milder versions of communists. Since the 1920s, When Nikolai Lenin and his communist comrades took power in Russia and began confiscating all private property and collectivizing that country’s farms, Americans - and especially the Republicans and other conservatives - have nurtured a story antipathy toward communism and any political philosophy calling for State intervention in the workings of society. Candidates for public office thought to be well-disposed toward socialism have experienced defeat at the polls.
The most prominent victim of anti-socialist prejudice was Henry Wallace, who lost to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1944 Presidential election. The excesses of Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950s were directed principally against suspected communists in America, but suspected socialists - they were derisively called pinkos - were not spared from the McCarthyian wrath.
Those Americans who have a strong abhorrence of socialism - especially the Republicans - continue to labor under the impression that today there are societies that are completely free-enterprise and do not partake of State intervention in one form or another.
That impression is, of course, false; there is no country in today’s world that is not socialistic to one degree or another. Given the skewed distribution of wealth and income in most countries today - with the poor classes accounting for a disproportionately small percentage of a country’s wealth and income - governments have no choice but to try and redress the imbalance with programs such as national health care, free tuition, minimum wage legislation, subsidies and outright grants. Many Western welfare states provide womb-to-tomb benefit programs for their citizens.
Republicans and other Trump-type Americans probably believe that socialism is essentially anti-democracy. Nothing could be farther from the truth, of course. Many of today’s wealthiest countries are democratic socialist societies. Before Republicans decide to again use socialism as a campaign issue, they should ask the British people what they think of their National Health Service.