Overplaying the Socialism Card: Liner Notes

I have a new column up at The Federalist, asking: “Is Careless Talk About Socialism How We Get President Elizabeth Warren?” And unlike most headlines, the answer isn’t entirely “No,” though it’s certainly not the only way it would happen.  Essentially, the column argues that reflexively calling things “socialist” may have effect on the left similar to what decades of the left’s reflexive accusations of bigotry has had on the right leading to the current political moment. In addition to fueling polarization, the tactic also may backfire in the sense that it plays into a lot of modern ignorance of what socialism is.

What got left out for space? Some details, like Paul Krugman arguing that Obamacare could evolve into single-payer, which is relevant to whether the right was accurate in thinking the bill was socialistic.  The lefties thinking the right exaggerated tend to forget that at the time, there was a big push to include a “public option” intended ultimately to displace the private insurance market.  Or that center-left people like Michael Kinsley also saw the proposal as a government takeover.

Indeed, as Commentary’s Noah C. Rothman wrote recently, lefties now casually throw around ideas found in Engels, the Communist Manifesto, and the Soviet Constitution.  He got a fair amount of pushback for it on social media from lefties who obviously didn’t bother to read his column.  Which reminds me: if you want a discussion of the meaning of socialism, it was the primary topic of a recent Commentary podcast.

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