When President Trump vowed that “America will never be a socialist country,” he wasn’t just throwing the gauntlet at Democrats. He was also challenging Republicans to stand up for their principles and vigorously resist the creeping encroachment of socialist policies.
It’s natural for conservatives to react to unapologetic socialists such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known as “AOC,” with dismissive laughter, but that’s a mistake we can’t afford to make.
If we refuse to treat terrible ideas such as the “Green New Deal” as serious threats to our economy and society, we will eventually have to deal with the destructive ramifications of their enactment.
The reasons we tend to respond with derision instead of serious argument are simple. Decades of nationwide consensus about the evils of socialism have given us an unwarranted degree of confidence that voters will soundly repudiate socialist policies whenever they rear their ugly heads. Perhaps more importantly, it seems so obvious to many of us on the right that these ideas are impractical and counterproductive, that we think it unworthy of our time to debate them.
To most conservatives, proposals such as “abolishing ICE,” imposing 70 percent tax rates, and eradicating air travel and meat consumption are non-starters. Similarly, claiming that the government has an obligation to support people who are “unwilling to work,” that every billionaire is a “policy failure,” and that every person of Latin descent has a right to ignore American law because our whole country is “native land” might strike most rational Americans as too absurd to merit a serious rebuttal.
Alas, many of our countrymen—especially those who weren’t yet born when we defeated the Soviets’ international socialist evil empire—are ignorant of socialism’s oppressive and destructive nature.
Fifty-five percent of American millennials have a positive view of socialism, according to one poll. Perhaps because they’re unaware that even confiscating the wealth of every billionaire in the country could never finance all the massive handouts Ocasio-Cortez is promising, a majority of Americans think a top marginal income tax rate of 70 percent is a good idea.
Among the broader left, AOC’s ideas are taken even more seriously. Almost three-quarters of Democrat voters would consider her for President of the United States, if she were old enough to be eligible.
Conservatives often accuse their adversaries across the aisle of “living in a bubble” or being “out of touch” with real Americans and their concerns. It may be painful to admit, but we sometimes live in a bubble of our own, unable to see that the bad ideas we thought we’d done away with have come creeping right back into the mainstream.
To confront Ocasio-Cortez and the awful concepts she’s digging out of the ash heap of history, we have to recognize that the folly of her discredited ideology is no longer taken for granted by many Americans—especially in light of the fawning coverage of her by the mainstream media.
Take, for example, the reporting about her now-infamous “Green New Deal” FAQ document, which was hurriedly taken down from her website after some of its more radical elements attracted widespread derision. AOC’s spokesperson initially tried to deny that the document ever existed, calling it a Republican parody, but was later forced to admit that it was genuine.
Not only did The New York Times report the whole FAQ episode as a mere “flub,” but to them, that wasn’t even the real story. Instead, they literally included the now-clichéd “Republicans Pounce” in the headline.
If conservatives want to understand how liberals, the young, and the uninformed view AOC, they must be mindful of the way her proposals are taken seriously by the liberal media. Only then can we effectively relegate her agenda to the left-wing fever swamp from whence it came, which is just where it belongs.
There is good news on that front, though. Republicans are getting wise to Ocasio-Cortez quicker than Democrats are rallying behind her. Part of that is the grudging realization that we need to take her proposals seriously.
For example, Bill Bennett, a fixture of the conservative movement back when global communism was the greatest threat America faced, has done a great job laying out just what’s at stake.
That’s encouraging. So are nationwide polls showing that Americans who are familiar with AOC are more likely to have an unfavorable opinion of her than a favorable one.
That’s not permission for us to become complacent, though. Conservatives must remain vigilant and proactively counter the siren song of socialism in order to ensure that Donald Trump will be the last President who ever has to remind the world that America will never be a socialist country.
Jason D. Meister is an Advisory Board Member of Donald J. Trump for President Inc.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.