Analysis: Utah Republicans hammer Democrats on socialism. Is it working?

Derek Brown 11

Republican party officers and officeholders across the U.S. have a new political drum to beat: Democrats will kill the American dream through socialism.

You heard that theme several times at Saturday’s Utah Republican Party’s organizing convention in Orem – one of the most-white, Republican cities in America.

Rep. Chris Stewart told delegates: Communist socialism was the fall of Germany, he never thought he would be fighting it in the U.S. Congress.

Democrats not only embrace socialism, “they kiss it on the lips and take it home to meet their mamas.”

Gov. Gary Herbert: Young people today have a fascination with socialism. “It is a concern we all should share.”

“Our young people must be told the truth” about the real dangers of socialism. Utah, through a new law, will teach free market capitalism in high schools, so graduating students won’t be misled at liberal colleges, their next education step.

Newly-elected GOP state chair Derek Brown: We should get Democrats a new hat – “Make Socialism Great Again, except it never was.”

Now, the GOP officeholders who addressed Saturday’s convention were preaching to the choir – you can’t get much more conservative, Democratic-hating crowd than delegates at the Utah Republican convention.

Still, from President Donald Trump to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, down through the Republican ranks, top Republicans have a unified message: Democrats want to ruin America through socialism.

But as a recent Associated Press story notes, it is unclear if that socialism message is making any inroads in America today.

AP reporters talked to middle-class voters in small-town Colorado, our neighbor to the east that is quickly turning from a reliable red Republican state to a purple Democratic-leaning state.

And folks there don’t care much about socialism – whatever that means.

recent Pew Research Center poll of what issues Americans care about, socialism, or the fear of it, didn’t even make the top numbers. Nowhere to be found.

Part of that, no doubt, is what Herbert talked Saturday about: Utahns don’t even know what socialism really is, so why should they worry about it?

But the other side of the political coin also matters: Utahns don’t care about socialism because they don’t see it as a problem, especially when compared with climate change, or health care, or affordable education or housing.

If you are having a hard time making ends meet each month when the country and Utah as a whole are doing great economically, why are you worrying about some type of government/economic political system like socialism?

How does this even apply to your thinking process when you go to the ballot box in 2020?

Republicans really can’t talk about health care next political season – they have no plan to change or replace Obamacare.

They can talk about the great economy, but while wages are finally starting to climb, the American middle class still sees itself as struggling.

Donald Trump is not well liked in Utah, and certainly not in Salt Lake County where Republicans did so poorly in last year’s elections.

So it’s not a winning strategy in Utah’s largest county to make next year a referendum on Trump.

Herbert and other Republican Party leaders are clearly going to keep talking about socialism as next year’s elections approach.

But as of now, it is very questionable whether socialism will have any real effect on voters’ attitudes in the 2020 elections.