RNC members to Dems: Change your name to "Democrat Socialist"

Some people within the Republican Party are asking Democrats to 'fess up to their true identity.

Published April 23, 2009 9:20PM (EDT)

A fair portion of the Republican Party seems to think that the way out of the ditch is to close its eyes and pretend super-hard that the year is 1954. Hence, it seems, their attempts to explain patiently, again and again, that there is a socialist in the Oval Office. This is, of course, not exactly a novel strategy. Not only does it predate Barack Obama’s election (it may be hard to remember how Joe the Plumber got famous, but this was it), it actually predates his birth, too.

It seems hard to imagine that the best use of Republican National Committee members' time is, as Greg Sargent reports, pressuring their chairman, Michael Steele, to adopt the following resolution:

RESOLVED, that we the members of the Republican National Committee call on the Democratic Party to be truthful and honest with the American people by acknowledging that they have evolved from a party of tax and spend to a party of tax and nationalize and, therefore, should agree to rename themselves the Democrat Socialist Party.

Sargent spoke with RNC vice chair James Bopp, who told him that Steele has said "on several occasions that he agrees with the substance.”

But, in addition to seeming a little bit like absurdist theater, Cold War-style red-baiting just doesn’t seem all that effective. Pew pollster Andrew Kohut notes that he has detected the slightest uptick in respondents identifying Obama as a socialist -- from 13 of 742 in February up to 20 now. That’s a jump from 1.8 percent to 2.7 percent.

Perhaps more significant, however, is that rather than damaging Obama by tagging him with red paint, it's possible that the GOP is just making “socialism” more popular by identifying it with a well-liked president. A Rasmussen poll from earlier this month shows that capitalism only beats socialism 53 percent to 20, and among adults under 30, the split narrows to 37 to 33.

By Gabriel Winant

Gabriel Winant is a graduate student in American history at Yale.

MORE FROM Gabriel Winant

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Michael Steele War Room