This cycle’s bogeyman

TIM MANNELLO

Williamsport

For Republicans, election time is Halloween season: time to dress up their opponents in terrifying costumes to scare voters over to their side. In order to get elected in 2016, Donald J. Trump scared enough people by portraying illegal aliens as a threat to our way of life. In 2019, he could win on a double-barreled campaign of fear by combining alarmist warnings of a socialist takeover (read communist) in the guise of Democrats with his battle calls for military action to repel the “invasion” on our southern border.

The term “socialism” used to signify, mostly, just one thing. Not anymore. Over the years, it has lost its singular meaning, except to Republicans. Originally, it referred to authoritarian government-controlled economies and rule; i.e., the communism/socialism of the Soviet Union and China… clearly separating them from democratic capitalism or, more accurately, the mixed economies of countries like the United States, Canada, and many in Western Europe.

Calling a Democrat a “socialist” is like asking for “ice cream” in a Baskin-Robbins shop. Ice cream comes in many flavors, while some recently-developed products are not really ice cream at all but dairy products containing more ice than cream. In like manner, countries tagged as socialist, along with their politicians, run the gamut from Vietnam to Ireland to Singapore. The term “socialism” has become so ambivalent as to be rendered useless…except to Republicans. They don’t “do nuance.” Rather, they deal in sloganeered baseball caps or, when things get really complex, in messaging within the 280-word Twitter limit.

Medicare-for-all may be prohibitively expensive and problematic, especially in the minds of Americans with employer-provided healthcare, but it ill behooves Republicans on Medicare to imply that it is Communist. Free- college-for-all may be too far-reaching, too fraught with problems and unaffordable, but it is far-fetched for Republicans who send their kids to lower-level schools paid for by the government with tax dollars, or Republican farmers who receive massive government subsidies (to mitigate economic damage they are suffering caused by bad trade decisions) to suggest it is Communist. Guaranteed Federal jobs are may well be costly, and misguided, but are supported by 52% of Americans, who, I venture to say, are not Stalinists, Maoists or Castroites. One man’s entitlement is another man’s “free lunch.”

When Republicans call Democrats “socialists”, they want us to think like they do, of socialism as practiced in places like North Korea, Laos and Cuba.

I know of no Democrat who supports that brand of socialism. No matter; to Trump supporters (that is, members of the Republican Party), Democrats are like the “huge caravans” of brown rapists, coyotes, murderers, drug dealers who are disguising themselves as families and voluntarily presenting themselves to border officials and seeking asylum at our ports of entry.

Be frightened, America.

So in 2019, get ready to hear the mantra of “socialism” from the Trump bandwagon as often as you heard the incessant incantation of “Build the Wall” in 2016. When Republicans call Democrats “socialists,” they want voters to conjure up the menacing faces of monsters like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro and Maduro. They’ll succeed in doing this with Trump’s base, who remain docile as chinchillas. Will others join their ranks? They did in 2016. Who’s to say they won’t again?

It’s ironic that Republicans depict Democrats as dangerous communists.

Why? Donald J. Trump, duly elected and sworn in President of the United States, has done more to advance the foreign policy goals of Communist Russia than has Vladimir Putin, Russia’s dictatorial prime minister. While Trump paints Democrats as communists, consider his audacious, shameless and ongoing propensity to project his own deepest character flaws on others, such as when he, who has uttered over 8,000 documented untruths during the two years of his presidency, successfully branded candidate Clinton with the moniker of “Lyin’ Hillary.” It could work again. Trick or treat?

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