Master brander Donald Trump — and his fellow Republican elected leaders — have clearly made a decision that the best chance for him (and them) to win in 2020 is to call Democrats “socialists” at every turn.
“The Dems were trying to distance themselves from the four ‘progressives,’ but now they are forced to embrace them,” Trump tweeted in the wake of his racist attacks on 4 Democratic congresswomen over the weekend. “That means they are endorsing Socialism, hate of Israel and the USA! Not good for the Democrats!”
Three days earlier, Trump retweeted this clip of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.) saying: “There are no moderates left in the Democrat party. It’s liberals vs. socialists now…and the socialists are winning. How can Democrats be this out of touch? @realDonaldTrump said it best: America will never be a socialist country.”
On Tuesday, defending Trump from claims of racism, House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy said this: “I believe this is about ideology. This is about socialism vs. freedom.”
This is not by accident. And numbers surfaced by Pew this week make very clear why the socialism push is on hot and heavy.
The answer: The Republican base HATES socialism.
In the Pew poll, which was done earlier this spring, 84% of Republicans and lean Republicans said they have a negative view of socialism. That number included 63% of Republicans who said they has a “strongly” negative view of it.
Remember that Trump believes that the polarization of politics — which he quickened but didn’t create — means that elections are typically won and lost in your base, not among the ever-dwindling number of swing voters who hop from party to party every four years. Trump also knows that lots of those “lean” Republicans dislike his personal style and his tweeting.
How do you convince those soft(er) Republicans to be for Trump in 2020 despite their misgivings? You find an issue that you can brand the other side with that makes the choice in 2020 between someone you have doubts about and someone that you believe will fundamentally undermine the capitalist system that has, to borrow a phrase, made America great.
You getting it now? If the choice in 2020 is between Trump and and a Democrat, he likely loses. If it’s between Trump and a Democrat-who-is-really-a-Socialist, he has a hell of a lot better chance at a 2nd term,
The Point: There’s no positive message that gets Trump reelected in 2020. (No, not even the economy.) Which is why he and his side are trying so hard to sell the socialism story on Democrats.