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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Republicans Condemn “Democrats” and “Socialism,” But Not “Democrat Socialists”

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.

3 comments on “Republicans Condemn “Democrats” and “Socialism,” But Not “Democrat Socialists”

  1. Chip Berlet on

    Why Rightists Call Obama & FDR Socialist Traitors
    This claim of socialism tracks back to the anti-FDR coalition of economic libertarians and the Christian Right.
    See the blog post URL

  2. James Vega on

    The utter strategic confusion in which the Republican Party finds itself is clearly illustrated by the fact that much of their base cannot distinguish between an attack that “works” tactically (i.e. dominates the news cycle for a while) like the distraction of the “Pelosi affair” and one like this which is simply batty.
    They cannot grasp that in the first case the power of the unified message discipline they have constructed allows fifty different Republican spokesmen to drive the news cycle with a repeated attack while the second simply cannot work in a similar way.
    The Republican base really cannot understand why the cry of “the Democrats are turning America into Sweden/The Soviet Union/Nazi Germany/Cambodia” does not build momentum the way the Pelosi attacks did.
    One can only hope that their incomprehension endures. An opponent that cannot tell the difference between a popgun and a howitzer is an opponent greatly to be desired.


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