Thanks to the current occupant of the White House, “socialism” is on the U.S. public agenda in a way it hasn’t been for at least a half-century or even longer. In October 2018, the Trump administration’s Council of Economic Advisers issued a seventy-page report entitled “The Opportunity Costs of Socialism.” “Coincident with the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth, socialism,” it began, “is making a comeback in American political discourse. Detailed policy proposals from self-declared socialists are gaining support in Congress and among much of the electorate.” The report purports to show how such proposals are misguided and counterproductive. In his State of the Union Address to Congress in February 2019, President Trump vowed that “we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.” “Socialism,” hence, will undoubtedly be a central target in his 2020 reelection campaign. The president’s pledge isn’t unwarranted. Among Democratic Party presidential hopefuls is Senator Bernie Sanders, a declared “socialist.” A leading Republican Party strategist makes a convincing case that Sanders, nineteen months before the 2020 election, “is a real contender.”
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