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!