CNN’s John Avlon ended the 8AM EST hour of New Day Wednesday by whining that conservatives were exaggerating worries that Democrats were embracing socialism. Avlon downplayed the devastating effects this social and economic system could have on the country, while boiling down the fears as just a Republican talking point.
Avlon opened by framing concerns as just political partisanship. “Team Trump sees the specter of socialism as a lifeline ahead of the 2020 elections. Fox News has been dutifully beating the drum, mentioning some sort of socialism more than 700 times in the past five months,” he gushed.
He then gave a brief socialism history lesson, timidly criticizing its “not great track record,” before praising Democrats for combatting the evils of capitalism:
That’s serious stuff with a not so great track record. Afterall, during the mid-20th century when socialism was in fashion across much of the world, most of the countries that practiced it were economically stagnant or much worse. But in the 20 years at the end of the cold war, the world poverty rate was cut in half. On the flipside, Venezuela’s socialist state managed to almost double the poverty rate in less than five years.
But socialism's history is easy to overlook among a generation born after the fall of the Berlin Wall. They are more likely to remember the great recession and growing income inequality.
You can't have 400 richest Americans controlling as much wealth as the bottom 150 million without courting a backlash. So many Democrats are proposing major tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans. Some of their policies, like free college tuition are broadly popular. This may be big time budget busting, but it's not Soviet-style socialism.
He continued downplaying socialism’s popularity here, conveniently forgetting that a major party that represents at least half this country is now trying to change all of that:
“Socialism's actually never been that popular in the USA. During its heyday, more than a century ago, the most successful presidential candidate on the Socialist party ticket, Eugene Debs, never got more than 6% of the vote,” he touted. Avlon criticized Republicans as hypocrites, for "crying wolf for decades" after they had embraced social programs like Medicare.
Avlon ended the segment trying to have it both ways, downplaying the idea that socialism would happen in this country, while praising Democrats for embracing it's ideals.
“Strengthening the social net is not socialism,” he lectured, telling viewers to not trust Republicans who bring it up: “Don't believe the hype of the choice we face between capitalism and socialism. Just a look at the facts,” he touted, to end his “reality check.”
It would’ve served viewers better if Avlon had done a reality check dismantling the radical and unfeasible requirements of the Green New Deal proposed by Democrats and backed by several leading Democrat 2020 candidates. If this is just Republican fear-mongering, then why are those ideas even being considered by one of the two major parties in this country? Or maybe CNN would like to review the footage of newly announced candidate Bernie Sanders’ comments supporting Soviet breadlines in the 1980s, and find a way to spin that as well.