Of course, dictionary definitions of political terms have never been very helpful. Political ideologies develop, shift, and morph over time, both in their technical meaning and in how they are popularly understood. So today I want to talk about what really distinguishes a 2018 American socialist from their liberal counterpart.
I finally got around to reading Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff’s January opus on the dramedy going on inside the Trump administration. When this book came out in January, much of the talk was about whether it implied the president lacked the mental faculties to govern. But I think this book contains a more interesting angle–it illustrates precisely why the Trump administration is so erratic and inconsistent on policy and has helped complexify my understanding of how the admin works. Most importantly, it illustrates why other Republican administrations would be much more disturbing.
There’s a story we tell about social media. Once upon a time politics wasn’t so divided and polarized. But then, social media came along–it let people retreat into bubbles, where they only talked to people who thought as they did. This caused them to get all extreme and nasty. And then the alt-right and the Russians figured out that they could inject fake stories into these bubbles and turn social media users into Trump supporters! Our beautiful liberal society was torn apart, and it’s all because people stopped trusting traditional news sources, like the big newspapers and TV networks. Companies like Facebook have a responsibility to do something about this–to call out the fake stories, or stop them from showing up in people’s feeds. Sounds familiar, right? I want to tell a different story about social media.
We’re seeing lots of good pieces which point out that many of the claims the Republicans are making about their tax plan are not true, that the plan favors the rich at the expense of the middle. But today I want to make another point about the plan, one that doesn’t seem to be getting the attention it merits. You see, it’s not just that the Republican plan helps the rich and hurts the middle. Those distributive consequences are real, and they matter, but this goes deeper than that. The Republican plan specifically targets liberal and left-leaning groups in the country for tax increases. It is an assault on the political neutrality of the tax system.