September 10, 2019 | Reading Time: 4 minutes
No, Trumpism Isn’t Socialism
The GOP moves toward a sinister kind of collectivism.
The Republicans have made such a habit of pinning the word “socialism” to policies they don’t like it’s natural for critics to cry foul when the GOP supports “socialism.”
When the Trump administration spent billions on farm subsidies to offset the affect of import tariffs; when it raised levies on foreign steel-makers to prop up domestic manufacturers; when it reviewed plans to buy uranium directly from struggling mining interests; when it tried to gut renewable energy policy to help coal mining firms that can’t compete—liberal critics said these and other acts belie the party’s stated belief in free markets and free individuals, and together illustrate how barren its values are.
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To these liberal critics, I say that’s jim-dandy as far as it goes. But being critical of hypocrisy doesn’t go far. We should resist the tendency toward gotcha in order to establish a meaningful discussion of statecraft we want to have. Not all government activism is socialism, obviously, but the GOP has succeeded in making its argument stick—so much so that liberal critics can’t stop to consider that the GOP isn’t being hypocritical so much as moving in the direction of different kind of collectivism.
Liberal critics aren’t alone. GOP propaganda on “socialism” has been so successful over the decades that even neutral observers like the Post’s Philip Rucker tend to think “socialism” when state economic intervention comes up. After Donald Trump “hereby ordered” American firms to “start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA,” he wrote: