From the time Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced his bid for president in 2016, touting the likes of universal healthcare and free college education, Republicans have taken to misleading the American public regarding the term “socialism” — and it has only worsened with the arrival of freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
Now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has gone so far as to label the House Democrats’ anti-corruption bill — which would strengthen voting rights, end partisan gerrymandering, make Election day a national holiday, and improve government transparency — as proof of the socialist takeover of the Left.
McConnell pointed to the bill, called the For the People Act (H.R.1) but rebranded by the Republican as the “Democrat Politician Protection Act”, as evidence that Democrats are “embracing one radical, half-baked socialist proposal after another.”
“Like many Americans, I’ve spent the last several weeks watching with interest as prominent leaders in the Democratic Party have engaged in a political footrace. They’re sprinting as far left as possible, as quickly as possible, trying to outdo one another. The result is that one of our two major political parties has begun embracing one radical, half-baked socialist proposal after another. It’s really a sight to see.
“First came the Democrat Politician Protection Act, a sweeping Washington D.C. takeover of what Americans can say about politics and how they elect their representatives. Speaker Pelosi and her House colleagues were ready with that from day one of this new Congress. They chose it as their ceremonial first bill of the year – H.R. 1. And let me say, this is quite a piece of legislation to hold up as the defining product of the new Democrat House majority.”
Writing for MSNBC, Steven Benen summed up McConnell’s stance well: “Republicans are so preoccupied with instigating some kind of red scare, they no longer know or care what their own rhetoric means."
Automatic voter registration, ending partisan gerrymandering, requiring the use of paper ballots, and in general seeking to increase transparency within the government has nothing to do with socialism.
“McConnell’s weird remarks are emblematic of an awkward truth Republicans should probably take a moment to acknowledge: they’ve undermined their own credibility by becoming the boys who cried socialist,” Benen wrote. “The word has been stripped of any etymological meaning through generations of over use.”
At the end of the day, the GOP has repurposed the term “socialism” to simply mean “progressive ideas that Republicans don’t like.”