The Republican party is in a good position to save America from the radical socialists in the Democrat party. However, since we can always rely on the GOP to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory, here is a checklist they might be wise to follow - just in case they lose sight of what the 2020 election is really all about.
Back in February I strongly criticized the Republican leadership for being clueless in how to fight the new socialist wave coming from the Democrat party. Since then, Conference Chair Liz Cheney has stepped up to the challenge, showing a growing determination to fight those socialists. Those of us who have moved away from socialism to become Americans understand, probably better than anyone, how the Republicans now form a very thin line between America and what we left behind. Cheney is one part of that line, and so is President Trump.
This line cannot fail. The latest Gallup poll on American attitudes toward socialism confirms this in abundance, but it also confirms that in order to win, Republicans need to follow a three-step strategy:
Step 1: Put on full display what socialism is,
Step 2: Present your alternatives, and
Step 3: Explain how your alternatives are better for middle-class America.
Both Cheney and Trump have shown growing determination to fight back against the socialist offensive. Cheney has spoken well about her unrelenting commitment to defeat socialism, working hard to cover Step 1 in my strategy. The Trump administration is going a little bit further, having resumed their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. In his speech in Sarasota, Fla., recently the president alluded to Obamacare alternatives. He did not go as far as to explain what those alternatives are and how they would help restore affordable health insurance for middle-class America, but his reference to them is the beginning of taking Step 2 in my strategy.
All this is good, and I am increasingly confident that we will see more of the same from the Republicans. We need it: the Gallup poll on socialism strongly confirms that my strategy is both the best way, and the only way, to beat back socialism:
Americans today are more closely divided than they were earlier in the last century when asked whether some form of socialism would be a good or bad thing for the country. While 51% of U.S. adults say socialism would be a bad thing for the country, 43% believe it would be a good thing. Those results contrast with a 1942 Roper/Fortune survey that found 40% describing socialism as a bad thing, 25% a good thing and 34% not having an opinion.
The definition that people give socialism has also changed, and this is where it gets interesting. Gallup again:
Previous Gallup research shows that Americans' definition of socialism has changed over the years, with nearly one in four now associating the concept with social equality and 17% associating it with the more classical definition of having some degree of government control over the means of production.
To this point, back in October Gallup reported:
When asked to explain their understanding of the term "socialism," 17% of Americans define it as government ownership of the means of production, half the number who defined it this way in 1949 when Gallup first asked about Americans' views of the term. Americans today are most likely to define socialism as connoting equality for everyone, while others understand the term as meaning the provision of benefits and social services, a modified form of communism, or a conception of socialism as people being social and getting along with one another.
In other words, Americans today generally view socialism as the Scandinavian welfare state. The combination of this shift in definition of socialism and the increased support for socialism in general reflects one of the main points I made in my book The Rise of Big Government: How Egalitarianism Conquered America, namely that the American welfare state today is more similar to the Swedish welfare state than it is different.
This, however, is not good for our country's future. The welfare state is the reason why the European economy is stuck in a state of industrial poverty. While our economy is currently outgrowing Europe and has been doing so for some time, our growth is not spectacular and will taper off if Congress decides to continue to expand the welfare state.
Here is where things get tricky for the Republicans in their attempts to fight socialism. They cannot fight it as if it is a system that repeals private property rights. They have to fight it as a system that makes private property rights meaningless. I fear they won't understand the difference; the Republican party apparently thinks that it is fine to continue to expand the welfare state in at least some forms. Specifically, they like paid family leave, thinking that it is not a contribution to government expansion and socialism.
They are wrong. As I explained back in March,
It is perfectly fine to not learn anything from history, but if you choose not to - and the neoconservatives in the Republican party have certainly made that choice - then you should not aspire to political leadership. It remains true, namely, that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
The Gallup polls on the attitudes to socialism in America present a major challenge to the Republican party. When people tend to define socialism as the Scandinavian welfare state, the GOP has to disentangle itself from the neoconservative ideology that has dominated their policies for the past three or so decades.
If they can do this; if they can concentrate on expanding the free market in areas where government is currently involved, or the Democrat socialists want to grow it; then the Republicans will be able to not only defeat socialism but re-establish the American constitutional republic as her Founding Fathers meant for her to be.