Social Policy and Contending Theories of Political Economy
The adversarial positioning of capitalism and socialism in American gained unprecedented notoriety with its post-World War II influence on the narrative of twentieth century world history. Today, it has found new energy in the United States’ 2020 presidential campaign. Beginning in 2019, as Democratic primaries brought forth proposals for social policy reforms, such as universal healthcare and free education, President Donald Trump launched into a broad attack on socialism. Though his reinforcement of a capitalism vs. socialism argument has found widespread support, his talking points have been consistently vague, lacking pragmatic didacticism. His evasive discourse mimics America’s wartime propaganda, aiming only to perpetuate widespread mistrust in an overarching ideology rather than addressing the specific real-world problems that have brought the social policies to the forefront of political discussion. Manipulating Democratic primary talking points into a cautionary tale of the failed Venezuelan economy while celebrating the economic boom that surged during his initial term as United States president (a strategical oration employed in both the 2019 and 2020 State of the Unions), is a diversionary tactic that ignores many of the social problems so pervasive in American society. It is an outdated reverberation of a capitalism vs. socialism debate that superficially ties “abject poverty and despair” to “socialist policy” without demonstrating a firm and consistent causal relationship to validate such claims.