On the night of March 27, Gov. Greg Abbott attended a gala dinner in Houston. From the stage, he bombastically proclaimed, “[B]y God, in the state of Texas, we will never adopt socialist policies.”
That’s like saying, by god, we’ll never do away with oil production. Or: by god, no one will ever eat BBQ or breakfast tacos in the Lone Star State!
It won’t happen. It’s just not true. And no one in either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party is pushing a socialist agenda.
But that’s not the point. The point is whether the Governor can get enough people to believe it’s true, or could be true. Sowing seeds of doubt in voters’ minds is an age-old political trick.
The socialist jab is the national GOP message for 2020.
“America will never be a socialist country,” President Trump told the world in his most recent State of the Union from the House chamber, an emblem of democracy.
Sen. John Cornyn’s spokesperson said of his re-election campaign that the longtime senator “looks forward to contrasting the Democrat-Socialist agenda with the policies that have made Texas the best state to live, work, and raise a family.”
Even the “moderate” Dan Crenshaw, the Republican congressman from Houston, gets in on the socialist action on Twitter.
It’s easy to dismiss such a tired — they’ve used the socialist line for decades — trope.
But people, even reasonable ones, believe some crazy stuff in this social media world. If Republicans can brand Democrats as lurking socialists — a threat — and GOP as the capitalist hero savior — they’ve told a good tale.
Will the socialist message work in Texas ahead of the 2020 elections, even though previous attempts have failed?
The honest answer is we don’t have a crystal ball. What is clear is that whichever party is the loudest and can raise the most money to blanket Texas with their message.
Democratic presidential candidates are already pushing back.
“I am a capitalist to my bones,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said earlier this year. “I believe in markets. What I don’t believe in is theft.”
“I’m a capitalist,” presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke has said on the campaign trail.
The propaganda war seems to be at a zenith in American politics. May the best man or woman win.