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The Bigger Picture

Funny but Obama’s comments about “destroying democracy just to win” applies to the Biden-Harris conversation too. Super Tuesday was anti-democratic for California voters, who mandated the other guy and chose Biden last. Then both our senators voted f...

You have to scratch your head when the Trump campaign blasts an ad stating that Biden wants to defund the police.
By John Trumbull (US Capitol, Public Domain)
The ad references some July 8, 2020 remarks made by the former Vice President in an interview with progressive activist Ady Barkan. In the interview, Biden does not say that he wants to defund the police. He instead talks about supporting police reforms such as banning no-knock warrants, public access to records of police officers, and the demilitarization of police.
During a virtual fundraiser hosted by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Biden said, “I don’t want to defund police.” Biden’s campaign has consistently stated that they are not interested in defunding the police but instead reforming the police. In fact, in some interviews he’s called for increasing police budgets:
“I want to get police more money to deal with the things they badly need, from making sure they have access to community policing, that they have also in the departments social workers, psychologists, people who in fact can handle those god-awful problems that a cop has to have four degrees to handle.”
These steps are not radical, nor are they far-left as Donald Trump claims in his ad. Several fact-checkers have debunked this idea, and yet the Trump campaign insists on painting Joe Biden as some far-left progressive figure who is going to take away the police and make America unsafe.
During the 2016 election, Mr. Trump commented, “I think this will be the last election if I don’t win.”
Within the first two paragraphs of his acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention, he laid out his vision for America. He was going to lead the “country back to safety, prosperity, and peace….But we will also be a country of law and order.”
So as the election closes in and 2020 erupts in chaos, Trump falls back on what he does best: attack. In 2016 he attacked immigrants, the media, and blamed Democrats for poverty and unemployment in the African American community.
This election cycle, Trump can no longer win on “law and order” alone, as both Biden and Harris are the epitomai of law and order. He cannot win on the economy. He continues to push his anti-immigration agenda and belittles the media. But all this isn’t enough, so Trump taps into an old-school Republican tactic by stating that Biden is a “trojan horse for socialism.”
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(Hendrik Willem Van Loon / Public domain)
This accusation is laughable. The Democratic National Convention has shown Americans the type of government the Democratic Party desires to build under Biden. They have built a coalition of Neoliberals and Neocons by giving more time to conservatives such as Colin Powell and John Kasich than progressive speakers such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Some may argue that this coalition is designed to show America that even Republicans hate Trump. But in reality, this coalition makes perfect sense to the Democratic centrist base, since Biden was one of 29 Democrats to vote for the Iraq war.
In short, Mr. Biden and the current Democratic Party certainly don’t sound like the socialists that Trump paints them to be.
So why use this strategy? Well, perhaps there is some Republican campaign strategy playbook out there, as this finger-pointing of socialism by the Republican Party has a nearly 90-year history.
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Ronald Reagan used it to attack Medicare. In a radio message from 1961 — well before he became President — Reagan said:
“One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.”
President Obama was regularly called a socialist in 2008 and 2012. A headline in the Washington Times read: “New Obama slogan has long ties to Marxism, socialism.” That new slogan was “Forward.”
What’s interesting to note is that the DNC’s primary messaging is that if Trump is elected, American Democracy will come to an end. This is the same messaging that Republicans use when crying “socialist.”
In Trump’s August 19 press conference, he pushes on his “saving America” philosophy:
“We’re saving the world from a radical left philosophy that will destroy this country. And when this country is gone, the rest of the world would follow.”
In Obama’s DNC speech from August 19, he stated that “This administration has shown it will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win.” Sanders’ speech from the 17th had a much more dire tone, stating:
“The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake.”
This isn’t new for Democrats either. In 2004, campaign ads were shown comparing George W. Bush to Hitler. The hate speech against Mr. Bush didn’t end there. Former Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn compared Mr. Bush to Hitler amidst the 9/11 tragedy, stating that:
“After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it, and it put the leader of that country (Hitler) in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted.”
During the 1964 Goldwater/Johnson presidential race, then-Democratic California Governor Pat Brown said, “The stench of fascism is in the air.” This was all because Republican nominee Barry Goldwater had accepted an invitation to visit an American military installation located in Bavaria, Germany.
We can go back and forth here. Republicans accuse Democrats of being Socialists. Democrats accuse Republicans of being Fascist. Both sides play on the fear of voters.
Don’t fall for it. Vote based on policies and issues that matter to youg.