Socialism is the Republican rallying cry for the 2020 election.
Everywhere you turn every Republican is using it to define Democrats this election cycle. Why? Because this election will be, in part, a referendum on the economy. Specifically, it will be a referendum on a rigged economy that works for a few versus the rest of America. So for Republicans, crying “socialism” is a political strategy to attempt to distract voters from their growing dissatisfaction with an economy that doesn’t work for them while they work harder and have a harder time making ends meet as they make less money.
Trump’s trade wars and tariffs are wreaking havoc on working Americans by increasing the cost of living. Food, goods, and products – the necessities of everyday life – have all increased. At the same time, Republicans in Congress are Trump’s accomplices giving the wealthiest Americans a massive tax cut paid for by middle class Americans, seniors, and students. Adding insult to injury, many of those same Americans have seen smaller tax refunds too.
Furthermore, Trump has exploded the deficit in two years, adding $8.3 trillion to it largely due to the 2017 tax cut. The same people who are paying the price for Trump’s and Republicans’ policies are going to be paying for that as well for decades. Adding insult to injury, Trump is paying $12 billion in subsidies to farmers in key 2020 states who are losing their farms and business as a result of his trade policies and tariffs.
The 2020 election should be a debate about making capitalism work for everyone, not just the few. Capitalism is the foundation of our economy and our country. But, it’s been exploited to benefit the few rather than the majority. While Trump is rewarding those who need no help he’s hurting those he promised to help during the 2016 campaign.
When the deck is stacked decidedly against hard-working Americans, then it’s time to reset the rules so everyone can compete again.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., one of the most progressive candidates in the 2020 presidential race, proudly proclaims herself to be a capitalist. She also adamantly believes capitalism needs to be reformed. In a bold move last week, Warren introduced a proposal to break up companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google because they are too big and too powerful. She tweeted, “Today’s big tech companies have too much power— too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy... they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation.” Warren often talks about the need for capitalism to have rules and to enforce them. That is exactly the debate we should be having in 2020 – and it is one voters want to hear.
Trump and the Republicans have seized on a few recent examples of those who tout socialism or are flirting with it – Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, for instance, and freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
But the real sign of dissatisfaction with capitalism started to emerge in an annual poll of young voters in 2016 by the Harvard Institute of Politics. This poll found that only 19 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 identified themselves as “capitalists.” A startling statistic, perhaps, until you think about it.
These young voters came of age during the Great Recession. They watched their parents lose their jobs, lose their homes, and many lost everything. As the big banks and others were bailed out to save our economy no one bailed them out. As we crawled out of the recession, some of their families may have gotten back on their feet, but never back to where they were before, and certainly not ahead.
Yet, these are the very people who bailed everyone else out. As the wealthy became even wealthier, these are the families who worked harder than ever and never caught up. And Trump, who promised to help them, has helped only the one percent who need no help.
That’s why young voters, and most of America, see the economy as rigged against them. And that is a real threat to Trump and the Republicans in 2020.
One of the reasons America is the greatest country on earth is because of competition. We can compete and beat anyone. But when the deck is stacked decidedly against hard-working Americans, then it’s time to reset the rules so everyone can compete again.
That’s the debate we need to have in 2020. It’s a debate Democrats are having now while Republicans try to distract voters from the reality of their lives by screaming “socialism!” That’s not a winning strategy for Republicans, or for America.