Stopping the Socialist Resurgence

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by Karl Rove,

from The Wall Street Journal,

Republicans need to fight the wild ideas of the Democratic Party’s left wing.

Sen. Bernie Sanders knows what he wants. In a Washington Post op-ed last week, the democratic socialist from Vermont laid out a legislative agenda for the 116th Congress’s first 100 days. Among the dizzying array of proposals Mr. Sanders pushed were his signature “Medicare for All” bill, tuition-free college, student-debt relief, tax increases requiring “wealthy people and large corporations to begin paying their fair share” and a $15 minimum wage indexed to “median wage growth,” not inflation.

Others in the Democratic Party’s increasingly influential democratic-socialist wing are pressing for their own major legislation to pass the House, even if it will go nowhere in the Republican Senate. Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, wants a “Green New Deal.” Sounding too much like a Maoist functionary, she describes it as a “national, industrial, economic mobilization plan” to make America carbon neutral.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s plan would end U.S. use of nuclear energy and fossil fuels—coal, oil and gas—within 10 years. She promises to upgrade “every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety” and “virtually eliminate poverty” by guaranteeing “a living wage job to every person who wants one” while mitigating “deeply entrenched racial, regional and gender-based inequalities in income and wealth” through a universal basic income, universal health care and other measures.

Republicans must resist the temptation simply to dismiss these radical Democratic ideas with wisecracks and insults. Enthusiasm for socialism and antagonism to capitalism have surged among millennials and Gen Z-ers. State-run economies may have been discredited by the 20th century, but that doesn’t mean new forms of socialism can’t gain a following. Republicans must do the hard work of updating old arguments.

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