If you’re looking ahead to the U.S. election of 2020, you could do worse than to heed the biblical admonition in Ecclesiastes 1:9: Translated from the Hebrew, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”
If you doubt the truth of that, consider the re-election strategy laid out by one of President Trump’s advisors in the Washington Post: “Nothing’s really changed for us. It’s still going to be the same binary choice between a Republican set of principles as opposed to a socialist Democratic set of principles. And we’ll gladly take that choice.”
The way the Post figures it, the GOP thinks proposals to expand Medicare and invest in green energy projects will be enough to frighten the voters with the most venerable bogeyman/issue in American politics: socialism.
“Scareword” is how President Harry Truman put it back in 1952.
“Socialism is what they called public power. Socialism is what they called social security. Socialism is what they called farm price supports. Socialism is what they called bank deposit insurance. Socialism is what they called the growth of free and independent labor organizations. Socialism is their name for almost anything that helps all the people.”
Back in Truman’s day, not too many Americans benefited more from the truly mixed economy that was well established post-World War II, than Donald Trump’s dad, Fred, who milked the federal government for millions of dollars to build subsidized housing in New York. That created the vast fortune that allowed his son to survive a variety of failed business ventures, including bankrupt casinos during his private sector career.
Donald may indicate that skill in business, as opposed to b.s. is not inherited, yet in other ways, the apple did not fall very far from the family tree. Fred, a frequenter of Ku Klux Klan rallies back in the day, didn’t want “colored people” living in his federally funded developments. He apparently passed this on to Donald, who was fairly new to the family business, but the continued discriminatory conduct by the firm was so severe that the company was repeatedly prosecuted by—wait for it—the Nixon administration.
Of course, Truman’s alleged socialism that’s being invoked in the 21st century goes back to his mentor and predecessor President Franklin Delano Roosevelt or, as an old anti-semitic trope went back then, “Franklin Deficit Rosenfeld.”
If you want to really understand how old and stale this present-day strategy is, you almost have to have known some genuine Roosevelt haters back in the day. I did, though FDR had been dead for many years by then.
They did not have Hillary Clinton to kick around for decades, but they sure had (Mrs.) Eleanor Roosevelt. I can remember the bad imitations of the former first lady who was a regular presence on the radio in the 1950s. El-ah-nooooor is how it went.
As Chuck Collins of the Institute for Policy Studies reminds us, Roosevelt and Truman were followed by a really serious socialist president and he happened to be both a republican and a general.
“What would today’s hysterical Republicans say about the “socialist” presidency of Dwight Eisenhower? Most likely they would call him ‘Red Ike.’ After all, during Eisenhower’s two terms between 1953 and 1960, the wealthy paid a top tax rate of 91 percent on incomes over the equivalent of $1.7 million for an individual and $3.4 million for a couple. That crafty pinko Eisenhower also presided over government-subsidized mortgages that helped millions of Americans purchase their first home and attend college for free. He presided over the construction of public housing and state-owned infrastructure (the Interstate Highway System).”
The worst was yet to come though, as closet socialists were pushing for—gasp—a national health insurance program to cover senior citizens. President-to-be George H.W. Walker called it “socialized medicine” and President-to-be Ronald Reagan was all over the air waves and print with the same message.
We call it Medicare these days, but true to his roots, President Trump wants to yank funding for Medicare (and Medicaid) to the tune of about a trillion dollars according to his current, but clearly dead on arrival budget proposal.
A funny thing is happening on the way to the 2020 election that makes me wonder if Trump’s campaign people are paying proper attention to their polling data. It seems the reliable old socialist bogeyman isn’t scaring the youngsters as much as he used to. As one instance, it seems that the majority of the young favor the wealthy paying their fair share to run the country, rather than stuffing more tax cut money in their bank accounts. According to the polling, over 70 percent of these voters support tax hikes on households with over $10 million in income — including 54 percent of Republicans. The source for that intelligence? Fox News.
So who’s going to be the mocked Eleanor Roosevelt this time around? It seemed at first it was going to be New York freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but after checking out the hyper online comments from the usual suspects and watching Ocasio-Cortez in action on TV, I am starting to think the Trump campaign should look for a softer target.