This meme has been floating around Facebook for a while now. Each time it is reposted, or shared, the ‘comments’ section rapidly fills up with posts from those either attacking or defending Bernie Sanders and his political positions.
If you are of a certain age and ever watched The Rock at the peak of his WWE fame, you will recall a recurring shtick. The Rock would pose a routine question, like “What is your name?” When the person began to speak to answer, Rock would put his hand up and interrupt with the line, “It doesn’t matter what your damn name is.” That folks, is the problem the pro-Sanders folks face when trying to explain socialism.
Regardless of textbook definition taught in school, the Occupy Democrats definition, or the personal opinions of those posting in the comments sections of Facebook posts, the term Socialist has already been well defined in the minds of the American voters.
For over 8 years, Republicans have been calling Barack Obama a Socialist every chance they got and Democrats (including Obama) have been doing their best to run from the label. This avoidance makes voters think there must be something very WRONG with being a Socialist, as everyone denies they are one.
It is sort of like the way Republicans have turned the word conservative into a badge of honor, even though most who wear it are not only NOT true conservatives, they have no idea how to properly define what being one means.
Or, most appropriate in this case, how Republicans have spent decades turning the term liberal into a scarlet letter no Democrat wants to wear. There is no going back on it now. The Reagan years clearly drew a line that neither side has disputed: conservative=good policies; liberal= bad policies. The Republicans also managed to perfect word association. Liberal= higher taxes. Liberal= free stuff for lazy people. Liberal=weak. Liberal= big government and Big Brother. Conservative= lower taxes. Conservative= personal responsibility. Conservative= strong. Conservative=smaller government and more liberty.
The Democrats, the liberals, the pro-Sanders folks can do their best to try to change people’s minds, but the term Socialist (even in the context of Democratic Socialist) is already as well defined for most voters as the word liberal, and once the Republican smear campaign hits full speed should Bernie Sanders become the nominee, he would be facing a George McGovern or Walter Mondale level rout.
It should also be noted that in addition to the attempts by the Sanders folks to redefine the term ‘Democratic Socialist’, they have been having some difficulty lately with the definition of the word ‘endorsement’. It seems the Sanders campaign, first in Iowa and now in New Hampshire, has run YouTube and TV ads titled ‘Endorsed‘ which feature blurbs written by leading newspapers in those states about Bernie Sanders. The intent is clearly to make voters believe these newspapers have endorsed Sanders. In many cases, they have in fact, endorsed Hillary Clinton, or they have remained neutral.
And let’s not get started on what Hillary Clinton and her team think the word ‘classified’ means.
The phenomenon of redefinition is not limited to Democrats, however.
Ted Cruz has long threatened to carpet-bomb ISIS until the sand glows in the dark. Yet when pressed for details on how the international community would react to the massive civilian casualties of such an assault strategy, the plan Cruz puts forth is not only NOT the definition of carpet-bombing, it is the exact opposite of carpet-bombing.
His definition of carpet-bombing seems to be surgical-strikes directed by embedded special forces. That is not carpet-bombing. That is the Barack Obama method of fighting ISIS. Maybe Cruz should try that explanation at the next debate?