Yesterday, I penned an article arguing this week’s legislative session was about Republicans pushing their own version of socialism regarding COVID, which in my opinion has been a constant theme of the formerly conservative GOP since Donald Trump’s election in 2016. The use of the term socialism set off a firestorm on my phone, but not from Republicans saying “how dare you call us that!,” but from Democrats saying the term should not be used in a condescending manner.
I’ll admit, I should have known better as a former traveler on the most leftist of message boards and Twitter feeds. I’m someone whose actual ideology on economic issues is close to that of a socialist. I’d call myself a social democrat but few in the US know what that actually is. The one clear place I break with socialist orthodoxy is that I support free trade and fairly “permissive” immigration laws that would allow the freest possible movement of goods and people. I see trade and immigration as linked issues and critical to maintaining a social safety net and liberal culture based idea.
Still my goal these days, however far to the left I am ideologically is to help Democrats frame a winning message which beats back the threat of Ron DeSantis-styled Authoritarianism in this state and nation. In that pursuit, my goal is to help frame Governor DeSantis and his allies in a light which will reflect the concerns we have about his reelection and potential Presidency. Keep in mind though, I share the same view of DeSantis, the premise of calling the Governor a socialist was actually based on a long quote from Former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough, now an MSNBC anchor.
So, in this regard I am thinking of the electorate in general, the people who decide elections, not what activists think or party officials whose messaging clearly keeps failing us, think. However, having been rebuffed, perhaps justifiably by activists, let me explain myself and search for a better way to label the GOP without using the term socialist.
After all our goal here is persuasion, not propaganda or the creation of internal strife. We must be united in terms of messaging and tactics to beat back the DeSantis threat.
One party operative privately told me yesterday morning “you’ve offended half of our party’s activists with your post. It’s a great premise, but they will never get past the derogatory use of a term they embrace.” Another friend told me “you’re better off sticking to the term fascist which unites everyone on the left, center and soft right (I admit I have no idea what they meant by “soft right.”) .
I don’t see the term socialist as derogatory at all, but since the Republicans have used it to GREAT EFFECT to tar-and-feather Democrats, including our current President with the label, I think its use as a derogatory term to describe hypocritical self-proclaimed conservatives who actually practice an ideology they claim decry makes for pretty good copy AND is about a turn of phrase to but the DeSantis allies on the defensive. They drone on about socialism while practicing elements of it themselves as Donald J. Trump also did in the White House.
Additionally, while the term “fascist” fires up activists on the left and people in the Democratic establishment it appears to have little to no resonance with Florida voters. Sure, anytime I call any right-winger a fascist on Twitter, I get lots of engagement while when I call them a socialist I often get zero likes and sometimes a few odd replies. But this is about framing messaging for electorate, something the Democratic Party has failed to effectively do time and again in this state.
Twitter is NOT the electorate, in fact it has become increasingly dangerous to make assumptions based on it. But I have noticed through the last few years many influencers particularly those further to the left, base their entire political world view on what gets Twitter engagements.
And you wonder why left candidates keep losing Democratic Primaries and then the mainstream Democrats that get nominated keep losing General Elections? Other factors are at play of course, but I’ve come to the conclusion the Twittersphere is a big part of our problem as Democrats and liberals. It creates perceptions that simply aren’t real in the wider electorate.
I’ve given my justifications for why I wrote what I did, but since many of you have spoken out loudly and angrily about it with some justification, we’re cancelling “Socialism Week on Monroe,” and will talk Special Session, and the state’s attempts to over-regulate the private sector while crushing local governments without labeling it in derogatory terms.
Thanks for your continued patronage of TFS!
Pew Research has a quiz to identify one’s “Political Typology.” I took it. My views I think are similar to yours although I support *some* restrictions on trade aimed at repressive regimes (not Cuba – that’s been a disaster). My typology is “Progressive Left” – which according to Pew represents 6% of voters. I’m a pragmatist though, and those of us who were watching saw the disastrous impact of Bernie Sanders’ support for Andrew Gillum. The Democratic Party needs to decide: do we want to halt the Red Juggernaut. or do we want to stay in Unicornlandia watching the sh*tshow? Anyone educated in history and political economy would understand that your use of “socialism” to characterize state restrictions on business is spot on. Having said that, without being elitist, I’m not sure that’s a winning message in Florida because “socialism” is like an automatic hot button in any context and we don’t teach political economy in our public schools.
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Here’s the link: https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/quiz/political-typology/
Socialism is one of the least understood words in our American vocabulary.
It’s misuse outweighs proper use perhaps 20-1. It’s a huge misconstrual of definition.
In Florida, Socialism has overtaken Communism in Miami-Dade as a way to describe what was once the reason for our large Cuban exile community.
The Republican Party of Florida is an amalgamation of power, those striving to control more power and the decades of hubris acquired by being the dominaint poilitical entity in Florida for a quarter of a century.
The number one methodology they (Florida Republicans) use to drive voter turnout is the ever present fear of demographic change that constantly reminds them of the genuine weakness of their Party.
It is far easier to get people to vote to retain or expand power they already possess and understand what losing that power will change their status … perhaps permanently.
This task is far more easy when 4 of 5 of your Party members are essentially from the White Community.
Combine this with the every present and seemingly ageless Cuban Refugee population of those who “lost theirs” to Communism in 1959 and Florida has a volitile stew of future fears and living reminders of what losing can look like to those who fled Castro’s Cuba.
Florida Democrats, as Democrats in general, have been out of State Power long enough for few to remember what a “balanced government” looks like, much less, what a Democratic Party controlled government looks like.
Few Floridians remember those days.
Florida’s Democrats have coalitions of minorities. Each of these coalitions has numerous wants and needs that should Democrats win major statewide elections the new government would pay more attention to the needs of the vast majority of Floridians.
Today Democrats can only point to their wish lists and package their wish lists as “goals” while the Republicans promote fear and discontent.
In 2020 White Democrats accounted for nearly 46% of Florida’s Democratic Party.
Never kid yourself that this group of Floridians are the “real” targets of the Republican Party when Republican Activists perform their racially based political theater.
Florida Democrats have an opportunity to win with proper messaging.
My belief is a Sleeping Electorate can be woken when Democrats keep the Voter’s mind focused upon just how little the Republican Leadership cares about Floridians and ignores their Voters directives in the form of Constitutional Amendments.
The number of Amendments passed by Florida’s Voters that have been perverted of ignored is long and shameful.
There are many more instances where Republicans stopped being Republicans and became Tyrants.
Remember Republicans were always for local control before the powertrip became decades long.
There are more messaging examples.
Florida Democrats have challenges that are not easily overcome due to being our of power for so long.
Thanks to Republicans in Florida we have not expanded Medicaid and Floridians of all parties and those who are not politically inclined have suffered and many (uncountable though) died as well.
People go hungry and unhoused and our children’s education suffers.
Just ask the Republicans who were out of power for over 100 years here in Florida.
Democrats have to remember to vote every opportunity.
Everywhere you look you can find a reason to make Florida better with a Democratic Party Governor.
One Win in the Governor’s election and major change has a chance.
Waiting for perfection kills, hopes, dreams, and lives.
I am an old traditional socialist and I took your comment with good humor, a sorely lacking characteristic of our current politics.
You say ” The one clear place I break with socialist orthodoxy is that I support free trade and fairly “permissive” immigration laws that would allow the freest possible movement of goods and people. I see trade and immigration as linked issues and critical to maintaining a social safety net and liberal culture based idea.”
I wonder if you would spend a column explaining what you believe about both. I am struck by the reality of deaths of despair and the disappearance of communities as compared to the halcyon days of industrialization until the sixties when we began to deindustrialize and globalize with great help from governments across the world.
An interesting note is during this era the Democratic Party and old left parties across the developed world, began to focus on an educated constituency, less diverse by class but, in the US, more diverse by identity characteristics.
What is your thinking on this phenomena.