Morning Joe Warns of ‘Democratic Party in Crisis’ Over Socialism

Reacting to former Colorado Governor and 2020 presidential candidate John Hickenlooper repeatedly refusing to call himself a “capitalist” during an interview minutes earlier Friday morning, the cast of MSNBC’s Morning Joe expressed their shock and dismay at the “crisis in the Democratic Party” as far-left candidates preach socialism.    

“I just got a text from one of the smartest people I know in politics who said, ‘Oh, my God, the Democratic Party’s in crisis,’" Scarborough revealed. “They’ve gotten to a point where an American success story can’t even say he’s a capitalist,” he lamented. Co-host Willie Geist agreed: “Yeah, that was extraordinary....Governor Hickenlooper, who has done very well in life....has benefitted from capitalism, he couldn’t say that he was a capitalist because he was worried about that label.”

 

 

Referring to Hickenlooper’s background as a small business owner before his political career, Geist observed: “...people who are capitalists by definition, by the virtue of the success they’ve had in their lives, afraid to use the word. It’s incredible.”

Scarborough repeated that “the Democratic Party is in crisis right now” and predicted: “Trump is going to devour every one of these candidates if they can’t say they support capitalism.” While arguing that America’s capitalist system “needs to be reformed,” the host proclaimed:

But, my God, if you’re afraid to say you’re a capitalist in America, I’m just going to tell you, people on the left tweeting today may not like it, let me just let you in on a little secret. If that is a crisis for your party, you’re gonna lose in 2020. Just, you know what, pull up the stakes on the tent and just pack her up. The party’s over.

Even frequent liberal pundit and marketing executive Donny Deutsch piled on: “You’re gonna lose in a landslide.” The harsh Trump critic went so far as to briefly entertain the possibility of voting for the President in 2020 if Democrats nominated a socialist candidate:

Joe, I’m gonna take it one step further, because this is how dangerous socialism [is]. I find Donald Trump reprehensible as a human being, but a socialist candidate is more dangerous to this country, as far as the strength and well-being of our country, than Donald Trump. I would vote for Donald Trump, a despicable human being –

Scarborough rushed to talk him down: “No, you won’t. Stop yourself....You will never vote for a bigot, a guy that’s made bigoted statements for the past three years.” Apparently regaining his liberal senses, Deutsch backed off: “Correct. Joe, thank you for correcting me. I stand corrected. I will be so distraught to the point that that could even come out of my mouth if we have a socialist.”

Though he still sounded the alarm against the radical left-wing ideology:

Because that will take our country so down. And we are not – we are not Denmark. I love Denmark. You know, that’s not who we are. And if you love who we are, and all of the great things that still have to have binders put on the side, please step away from the socialism. And let me correct myself, I will never vote for Donald Trump. Thank you, Joe.

All the agitation among the Morning Joe crew was sparked by Hickenlooper rejecting the “capitalist” label five times during what normally would have been a softball exchange on the MSNBC show.

 

 

“So Governor, and you certainly were a doer when it came to business....an
advertisement for American capitalism,” Scarborough noted during the interview. The host wondered: “Are you concerned about some factions of your party embracing socialism?” Hickenlooper dodged: “Well, I think there’s – the Democratic Party is a big tent. And that’s one of the things I’ve always loved about the Democratic Party is there are all kinds of ideas.”

Scarborough then asked him directly: “Well, would you call yourself – would you call yourself a proud capitalist?” Hickenlooper deflected: “Oh, I don’t know. You know, again, the labels, I’m not sure any of them fit.” Moments later, Scarborough gave him another chance: “Let me ask you, just I’ll break it down even more. Do you consider yourself a capitalist?” Hickenlooper squirmed: “Well, again, the labels – you know, I’m a small business person.”

Still trying to get a definitive response from the man who wanted to be President of the United States, Scarborough made one more attempt: “So do you consider yourself a capitalist and does capitalism work?” Hickenlooper still refused to weigh in: “Well, I think I – I don’t look at myself with a label.”

After the Democrat steadfastly avoided endorsing the nation’s economic principles, Republican strategist and MSNBC political analyst Susan Del Percio tried a different topic: “Governor, so you basically say capitalism is not working for the middle class and the poor. What – and yet, you do oppose Medicaid-for-all [sic]? I mean, what is your position on that?”

Hickenlooper argued that “health care should be a right” but also acknowledged: “...somewhere north of 150 million Americans who get their health care through private insurance, through their business or some other way through private insurance. I don’t think we’re gonna take away that insurance from them or make them go to a whole new system very easily.”

Del Pericio then returned to economic philosophy: “So the capitalism works in the private sector insurance but not generally for the public?” He declared: “Well, I think that there are places where we need to make dramatic changes.”

It was then Deutsch’s turn to pose a question, but he deliver a lecture instead:

I’m frightened that you’re in a position where it’s hard for you to come out and say, “I am a capitalist.” We are a capitalist society. That’s not a bad thing. That doesn’t mean we have to have – we can still have more income equality, but that is my concern the way your party, my party, is being hijacked, that it’s uncomfortable for you to say, “I am a proud capitalist.”

Hickenlooper still balked: “Well, but the trick here is all these labels have gotten to the point where they divide us from each other.”

Deutsch scolded him: “Can’t we say socialism – is it bad for the Democratic Party to say, ‘Socialism is a bad thing, that’s not who we are’?”

When even the friendly forum of Morning Joe fears that Democrats are moving too far left, perhaps it’s time for 2020 contenders to better prepare themselves for tough questions. Of course, given the usual fawning media coverage they receive, Democrats aren’t accustomed to having to defend their ideas against a hostile press.

Here are excerpts of Hickenlooper’s interview and panel reaction on March 8:

8:42 AM ET

(...)

JOE SCARBOROUGH: So Governor, and you certainly were a doer when it came to business. What you talked about sounds like the American dream as far as business goes. And wow, an
advertisement for American capitalism. Are you concerned about some factions of your party embracing socialism?

FMR. GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER [D-CO]: Well, I think there’s – the Democratic Party is a big tent. And that’s one of the things I’ve always loved about the Democratic Party is there are all kinds of ideas. You know, I look at my experiences and where I’ve tried to make a difference and it really is getting people together, getting them to lay down their weapons, and then getting stuff done. And the labels – I think most Democrats don’t care as much about the labels.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, would you call yourself – would you call yourself a proud capitalist?

HICKENLOOPER: Oh, I don’t know. You know, again, the labels, I’m not sure any of them fit.

(...)

SCARBOROUGH: Let me ask you, just I’ll break it down even more. Do you consider yourself a capitalist?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, again, the labels – you know, I’m a small business person. So that part of the system that you would call capitalist, I get it. I understand it. I worked very hard. You know, when you open your own business, you know, when we first signed the lease in lower downtown Denver to build our brew pub it was one dollar per square foot per year. I mean, that is, if you haven’t ever signed one of those leases, that rent is almost free. And it reflects how bad and how abandoned that part of the community was. We worked 70, 80, 90 hours a week to build the business and we worked with the other business owners in lower downtown to help them build their business. Is that capitalism? I guess. I mean, sure, so in that sense of building community, that’s one way to do it, one aspect of it. It’s not all that it is, right? I served on 42 nonprofit boards and committees in that same 12-year period.

SCARBOROUGH: Right. So do you consider yourself a capitalist and does capitalism work?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think I – I don’t look at myself with a label. And I certainly think that small business is part of the solution. I think right now the way capitalism is working in the United States, it’s not doing what it once did. It’s not – it’s really not providing security and opportunity for the middle class and for poor people. And I think, as a country, we need to step back and look at that and say, “How do we get America back to place it was where if you were –  worked hard enough, no matter where you started on the economic ladder, you would have a chance to go ahead and create your own version of the American dream.

SUSAN DEL PERCIO [REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST]: Governor, so you basically say capitalism is not working for the middle class and the poor. What – and yet, you do oppose Medicaid-for-all? I mean, what is your position on that?

HICKENLOOPER: Did you say Medicare-for-all?

DEL PERCIO: Yes.

HICKENLOOPER: No, I think what I’ve said again and again is that I believe that health care should be a right, alright? And I believe we should get to universal coverage. I also think there are, you know, somewhere north of 150 million Americans who get their health care through private insurance, through their business or some other way through private insurance. I don’t think we’re gonna take away that insurance from them or make them go to a whole new system very easily.

DEL PERCIO: So the capitalism works in the private sector insurance but not generally for the public?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think that there are places where we need to make dramatic changes. You know, there are 70 million people in this country that make less than $75,000 a year. We’ve got to find way to get more of the business profits and their tax savings that come down to those workers. And I think, you know, that’s a challenge that, as a country, we’ve got to accept and work on.

DONNY DEUTSCH: Governor, Donny Deutsch, so nice to talk to you. I’m gonna pick up kind of the line of questioning where Joe and Susan were in. And I’m frightened that you’re in a position where it’s hard for you to come out and say, “I am a capitalist.” We are a capitalist society. That’s not a bad thing. That doesn’t mean we have to have – we can still have more income equality, but that is my concern the way your party, my party, is being hijacked, that it’s uncomfortable for you to say, “I am a proud capitalist.”

HICKENLOOPER: Well, but the trick here is all these labels have gotten to the point where they divide us from each other.

DEUTSCH: That’s my point.

HICKENLOOPER: One way or the other, you become a capitalist, and you’re right, people think that’s a bad thing. You become a socialist, that’s a bad thing. I prefer to say, alright, how do we come together? Whatever the label is that you feel most comfortable with, how do we come together and really move the ball down the field? How do we make sure that we are providing more opportunity to people that, you know, started out with more challenges than many of us?

DEUTSCH: But, Governor, I just want to jump in. Can’t we say socialism – is it bad for the Democratic Party to say, “Socialism is a bad thing, that’s not who we are”?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, we have always – I mean, when we had Social Security, people used to at that – at some point say that’s some form of socialism. You know, there are parts of socialism, parts of capitalism in everything, right? And are we gonna try and get everything down to being purely capitalism? If you’re purely market driven, right, then you end up with monopolies. You end up with all kinds of problems. So whatever label you choose, we’re going to have to find ways to navigate and recognize that this is a system that incorporates aspects of many different economic theories.

SCARBOROUGH: Alright. Hey, Governor, thank you so much for being with us. I know we hammered just one part of a – I mean, I wanted to ask you about Saudi Arabia. I wanted to ask you about foreign policy. We hope we get another chance to do that.

(...)

8:51 AM

SCARBOROUGH: Willie, I just got a text from one of the smartest people I know in politics who said, “Oh, my God, the Democratic Party’s in crisis.” They’ve gotten to a point where an American success story can’t even say he’s a capitalist.

WILLIE GEIST: Yeah, that was extraordinary, I thought. Governor Hickenlooper, who has done very well in life because he started up this beer company in Denver, became mayor, became the governor of the state, has benefitted from capitalism, he couldn’t say that he was a capitalist because he was worried about that label. I think it’s a statement where the Democratic Party is, I think it’s a statement about fearing the left flask of the party. You’ve seen Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders obviously sticking to the core of who they are. But even now people who are not Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, people who are capitalists by definition, by the virtue of the success they’ve had in their lives, afraid to use the word. It’s incredible.

SCARBOROUGH: It is incredible. And Donny Deutsch, I know you’ve said it, but I mean, others, again, are saying it, the Democratic Party is in crisis right now. Trump is going to devour every one of these candidates if they can’t say they support capitalism.

But yes, it needs to be reformed. It had to be reformed after – you know, after the gilded age. It had to be reformed by Teddy Roosevelt, it had to be reformed by FDR, it had to be reformed again by LBJ. Yes, capitalism has to be reformed from time to time to work for all Americans.

But, my God, if you’re afraid to say you’re a capitalist in America, I’m just going to tell you, people on the left tweeting today may not like it, let me just let you in on a little secret. If that is a crisis for your party, you’re gonna lose in 2020. Just, you know what, pull up the stakes on the tent and just pack her up. The party’s over.

DEUTSCH: You’re gonna lose in a landslide. Joe, I’m gonna take it one step further, because this is how dangerous socialism [is]. I find Donald Trump reprehensible as a human being, but a socialist candidate is more dangerous to this country, as far as the strength and well-being of our country, than Donald Trump. I would vote for Donald Trump, a despicable human being –

SCARBOROUGH: No, you won’t.

DEUTSCH: Let me tell you something –

SCARBOROUGH: Stop yourself.

DEUTSCH: Let me correct myself. Thank you, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH: You will never vote for a bigot, a guy that’s made bigoted statements for the past three years.

DEUTSCH: Correct. Joe, thank you for correcting me. I stand corrected. I will be so distraught to the point that that could even come out of my mouth if we have a socialist. Because that will take our country so down. And we are not – we are not Denmark. I love Denmark. You know, that’s not who we are. And if you love who we are, and all of the great things that still have to have binders put on the side, please step away from the socialism. And let me correct myself, I will never vote for Donald Trump. Thank you, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH: Okay, very good. Fools rush in, Donny. Video tape is for ever.

DEUTSCH: Here’s my chin. Here’s my chin, right there.

(...)

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