by Kellen Squire
Well, it’s a day that ends in “y,” so it must be a time for another Republican to cleverly go “LOLVENEZUELA” when someone discusses a dastardly plan to, I dunno, make sure people don’t go into bankruptcy if they have a heart attack, or be able to have student loans they can pay off before age 65. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Notice when socialists want to point to a good example of socialism they point to countries that aren’t actually socialist (Sweden, Denmark, Norway)…funny how they no longer want to own Cuba, Venezuela and others that are…you know…actually socialist#socialistmakebelieve
— Nick Freitas (@NickForVA) August 21, 2018
Yep, this has all the hallmarks of yer standard “socialists-r-bad circle jerk” tweet. Delegate Nick Freitas, for those of you who don’t know, is a man who got beat by a wholly inept white supremacist because he was more interested in building his profile to run statewide in 2021. See, he was planning on getting blown out by Corey Stewart, something nobody could really have blamed him for- and, instead, he lost by a couple thousand votes. Now the Virginia GOP is burning, having incurred damage they won’t recover from for years, all so Nick could satisfy his political ambitions.
Let’s just say Nick hasn’t made a whole lot of friends doing that. That’s unfortunate for him, since the Republican Party of Virginia today is almost exclusively leakers and backstabbers.
Lemme preface this explanation by explaining my complicated political history. I was born and raised a Republican. I cut my political teeth helping my dad campaign for Lamar Alexander in Iowa in 1995. I’m forever grateful that Facebook didn’t exist when I was in high school, or else my page would have been littered with unironic Ayn Rand quotes and demands for “sheeple” to wake up.
What eventually pushed me over the edge on the road to becoming a progressive was the realization that, aside from a few purists and pundits, nobody actually gave a damn about conservativism. Medicare Part-D was a massive giveaway to pharmaceutical corporations (for instance, mandating the government pay the most expensive price available and refusing to let it negotiate by volume), the PATRIOT Act was an incredible destruction of civil liberties that only progressive lion Russ Feingold had the guts to stand up against- etc, etc, etc. Eventually, I got sick of it, and left the Republican Party to work with a mild-mannered Illinois Senator as a part of his Presidential campaign’s rapid response team- and, well, the rest is history.
I’ll admit- small government conservatism isn’t a bad political philosophy at all, and is (in theory) very intriguing for working class folks (including working class black and Hispanic folks), millennials, etc- if you actually follow it in the manner it’s intended. Which, let’s be clear here, has never happened, ever, in the history of the United States.
Not even close.
And that, of course, is a feature, not a bug- which is why you hear a constant refrain of histrionic wailing about Venezuela or Cuba from folks like Nick. Because as opposed to the corporate socialism we regularly are exposed to in this country, where we privatize gains and socialize losses, the “socialist” policies that folks like Lee Carter, the DSA, etc, are pushing are wildly popular with a majority of the country. They include crazy policies like getting big money out of politics, enacting Medicare for All, funding universal pre-K, debt-free college, etc. I suppose those things aren’t what one would truly call “socialism”. No, that would be more, you know, nationalizing industries, setting political commissars in place, or kneecapping a free market by choosing winners and losers based on political (or egotistical) considerations by an authoritarian leader. Certainly nothing Nick would ever vociferously support or pledge fealty at bended knee to protect.
This has been true even as far back as the Tea Party “revolution” that launched during the first few weeks of the Obama Administration. They didn’t hate “socialism” at all- far from it! The “socialism” they hated was simply being “taxed enough already” for programs aimed at people they didn’t like.
A few years back, there was a story about a family in New Mexico who had, if I recall correctly, eight or nine kids. They, of course, utilized public assistance programs like Medicaid and (then new) Affordable Car Act provisions to ensure they could provide for their children, who were all “sincere blessings”. Great! More power to them. Except then they railed against other people being able to access the same benefits, claiming themselves as an exception. See, they deserved those benefits when other people didn’t.
If you want to guess why this story didn’t take off in the right-wing blogosphere, in the cesspool of Infowars, the Drudge Report, and Breitbart, I’ll give you a big, fat hint.
Donald Trump exposed the id of the Tea Party, and via which, the majority of the Republican Party. It’s one of the biggest things that took the NeverTrump folks by surprise, and is a big reason nobody took Donald Trump seriously until it was too late. Because they actually had deluded themselves into believing that those rank and file voters cared about small government fiscal conservatism, when the truth is that they never gave a single dang about it.
They love “socialism”- they just want it pointed at the interest groups they want.
Now, going “LOLVENEZEULA!” anytime someone wants to talk about an economy that works for everyone isn’t the only trick folks like Delegate Freitas here love to pull. On top of that, lots of Republican politicians- our friend Nick here included- love to style themselves as a “libertarian.” His attempt to stylize himself as the “freedom candidate” in this years’ Senate race would’ve been hilarious, if it weren’t so sad.
Instead, Nick is the perfect example of a “cafeteria libertarian” and “cafeteria conservative”, picking and choosing small and limited government principles when it suits his predetermined interests, and ignoring them otherwise. For instance, he’s got no problem voting for budgets that squeeze more money out of the delicious cash-cow that is the Virginia ABC system, a great example of the socialism he routinely decries. I guess government monopolies are okay as long as the budget’s balances, amirite? But when it comes to inserting the power of the state between women and their doctors- hoo, buddy, we need to get the government into every nook and cranny, stat, if we want to be serious about stopping school shootings!
Now, I certainly don’t mean to pile on to Delegate Freitas here; I’m not a fan of punching down. He, after all, is just repeating clever memes he’s seen elsewhere on the Internet. He’s not the genesis of this argument- not the first, and certainly not the last.
Instead, this is a primer for you, dear reader, for the next time you see a weak-sauce attack on the RADICAL IDEA that we should build an economy that works for everyone. Because as the realization dawns on these folks that everything I’ve written here is right, and that these progressive policies we’re fighting for aren’t some fringe philosophy, but represent the new American center? They’ll only get more and more pronounced and frantic.
Now, arm yourself with this knowledge and wade into those fights, ready to call out hypocrisy and make the case that working Virginia families deserve the same consideration as billionaires and corporations. After all, you don’t want Lee Carter to have all the fun, do you?