In a step that will be interpreted as a triumph for what passes as Republican “moderation” these days, the Republican National Committee passed a resolution (at a special session called for this purpose) today that accuses the President and the Democratic Party of “pushing our country towards socialism,” but does not specifically demand that Democrats begin calling themselves the “Democrat Socialist Party,” which was how it was originally worded.
Since all the “whereas” clauses in the resolution seem to have been left intact, it doesn’t appear that Republicans have changed their minds about calling Democrats “socialists.” They’ve just abandoned the sophomoric idea of demanding a party name change, complete with cropping “Democratic” to “Democrat,” an odd if ancient GOP ritual.
But maybe that’s too simplistic. To get a sense of Republican “thinking” on this subject, it’s useful to watch a video put together by the American News Project’s Harry Hanbury after interviewing RNC members at a state chair’s meeting yesterday. Here’s what California National Committeeman Shawn Steel had to say:
One point of view is that calling them a “socialist party” is not quite accurate; they’re more like a “national socialist party” the way the Nazis were. Well, I don’t know if that faction is going to prevail or not.
Another group is thinking that “socialism” kind of obscures the real issue of what Democrats are doing. The chairman of Tennessee said it’s really not a matter of “socialism,” but it’s more like “fascism” where the government controls the corporations but the corporations are still semi-private.
So maybe for some RNC members it was a matter not of avoiding name-calling, but of reacing agreement on exactly the right name to call. “Nazi” and “fascist” do have a bit stronger connotation than mere “socialist.”
And there seems to be some disagreement as well about exactly the right label among the all-powerful conservative activist base, at least according to one of its longtime leaders, direct-mail pioneer Richard Viguerie. He’s been conducting an online survey for the last week via his Conservative HQ site, and here’s how his self-identified-conservative respondents break down in describing “President Obama’s political philosophy”: Socialist: 46%; Marxist 24%; Communist: 11%; Fascist:10%; Liberal: 5%; Progressive: 2%.
No, I think it’s definitely premature to say any kind of “moderates” in the GOP have had any kind of “victory” when it comes to thinking about the party that waxed them in the last two election cycles.