Red Scare: Why Republicans are Finding Communists Everywhere


The two Republican front runners for their party’s Presidential candidate fear that communists could take over America if the Republicans don’t win in 2024. 

In a speech after his indictment for mishandling classified documents, Donald Trump said, “At the end of the day, either the Communists destroy America, or we destroy the Communists.” Adding that “we will cast out the communists.” Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law designating November 7 as “Victims of Communism Day.” DeSantis said this was “to ensure that history does not repeat itself.”

Democratic campaign strategists recommend ignoring these statements; do “not take the bait.” Don’t get into a dialogue about communism. If you dignify them with a response, their message will only resonate with the MAGA base. However, even if true, it will likely be repeated as election campaigns roll out. Ignorance is not bliss.  We cannot have a vibrant democracy if one side concedes the debate floor to the other side.

To ignore confronting this doomsday prophecy is, in effect, elitist. It betrays an attitude that only uneducated people would follow this thinking. By remaining silent, the perceived threat, but not the reality, of a communist takeover will increase. It shows that the Democrats lack the stamina to refute the Republican’s narrative logically. 

Jon Schwarz of “The Intercept” wrote of the revival of this red-scare tactic. The author concluded that people, since 1945, have been the same on this red scare, so beware. People are the same in many ways, but that recognition does not provide a pathway for countering disinformation. Going forward demands a rational response to counter the fantasy that our nation is under a communist attack from within our boundaries.

Let’s begin by identifying what action would bring about communists ruling America. It could result from a violent revolution, an election victory, or a secret cabal within the federal bureaucracy.  

Communists Controlling America Through Revolution

The world’s first communist party was formed when V. I. Lenin created the Bolsheviks. It was previously a faction of a revolutionary Marxist-oriented Russian social democratic party. Lenin, and Leon Trotsky, became the lead spokesmen demanding that a true communist state could only exist after a bourgeois democratic government was eliminated. 

Their resulting new ruling government would eradicate capitalism and establish a dictatorship of the workers. In time the state could also be eliminated. Lenin refined Marx’s evolutionary theory of economic and political change to enable Russia to survive as a lone communist state within a capitalist world. Later revolutionary Marxist-Leninist parties were formed worldwide to achieve a communist future in their countries. 

America has had and continues to allow Marxist-Leninist communist parties to exist. They began shortly after the Russian Revolution. The main party, the Communist Party USA, has gone from espousing a rigid Marxist-Leninist philosophy to adopting a tamer version. The party had never sanctioned violent activities. 

During the 1960s, when revolutionary rhetoric was at its apex on college campuses, the Communist Party was shunted aside as ineffective and irrelevant. More radical and youth-dominated parties emerged with revolutionary rhetoric. By the end of the 1970s, small groups like the Weathermen had either disbanded or remained as endless talking circles defining Marxist theory. 

The reality of a Marxist communist revolution in America is a delusion. After a hundred years of organizing, communists accomplished less than President Donald Trump almost accomplished in only four years: toppling the federal government. The January 6 insurrection (described by some Republicans as a harmless unguided tour of Congressional offices) came the closest of any past action from any leftist party to stop the orderly transition of presidential power. 

If you expect a revolution to overthrow the government, look to the diehard MAGA adherents. Meanwhile, orthodox Marxists are in the libraries reading incomprehensible tomes on why a revolution to eliminate the bourgeois democracy is inevitable sometime in the future.

Communists Controlling America Through Elections

So, let’s turn to the election route for a putative communist takeover of America. It’s difficult to believe people voting for candidates who don’t think our democracy has legitimate elections. Then again, since Donald Trump lost the 2020 Presidential election, 40 percent of Republicans believe our democratic presidential election was corrupt.  Those thinking that democracy doesn’t work for them are often attracted to parties and political leaders who promise a new political order that will deliver what they want, which is seen as achieving true democracy. 

Since America’s Communist Party was created in 1919, its political perspective and subsequent policies have drifted from strictly adhering to revolutionary dogma to actively supporting liberal reformist policies. In the tradition of Marxist movements fragmenting, America’s communist party began as two competing factions. Nevertheless, they shared a common objection. While one proclaimed that it had “only one demand: the establishment of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” the other announced that it did “not propose to ‘capture’ the bourgeoisie parliamentary state, but to conquer and destroy it.”

Communist Party candidates reached their high-water mark while the capitalist economy was failing during the Great Depression. They received about 100,000 votes in several elections during the 1930s. William Foster, the communist presidential candidate in 1932, promised that when they came to power, “all the capitalist parties—Republican, Democratic, Progressive, Socialist, etc.—will be liquidated.”

Not waiting for that to happen, most of those suffering during the Great Depression favored FDR’s tangible reforms over the vision of a future communist society. Foster received less than 1 percent of the vote, and the communists subsequently denounced Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal as “social fascist.”

Over time, America’s communist party dropped its revolutionary rhetoric and began promoting progressive policy legislation. It supported the civil rights and anti-war movements, organized against police abuse and mass incarceration. It resisted climate change by most recently endorsing the Green New Deal legislation by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

In other words, the communists in the US started to participate as just another political party in the democratic legislative arena. This is a similar practice to what communist parties were doing in seven other functioning democratic countries (including Spain and Brazil), where they have been or are part of the ruling party. Most had about 2 percent communist representatives in their parliaments, where the ruling party needed small parties to cobble together a majority to govern. 

Support for communism occasionally peaks in some opinion polls. According to a 2019 poll conducted by YouGov, communism received a 36 percent approval rating compared to 50 percent for capitalism. A professor of political theory at San Jose University, Lawrence Quill, said that these theories are so broad they lend themselves to endorsement by very different sorts of people looking for very different things. 

Nick Licata
Nick Licata
Nick Licata, was a 5 term Seattle City Councilmember, named progressive municipal official of the year by The Nation, and is founding board chair of Local Progress, a national network of 1,000 progressive municipal officials. Author of Becoming a Citizen Activist. Subscribe to Licata’s newsletter Urban Politics


  1. “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the
    inherent vice of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”
    — Winston S. Churchill

    Collectivism has many varietals. The differences between varietals are simply a matter of degree.

    • So the UK and Germany (not to mention dozens of advanced capitalist nations with a social safety net) are actually total pinko commies, then?

      Lazy thinking from a lazy right-wing poster.

      PS – Ayn Rand was a welfare queen.

      • I’ve lived in both Germany and the United Kingdom. Both countries are fundamentally ‘social democracies’ and the governance there reflects that political philosophy (a post WWII phenomenon). Calling people ‘lazy right-wing poster’ (s) or nazis or racists is kind of a last refuge (don’t you think).

        Arguably, there is more dystopianism in variants of collectivism than there is utopianism, you’re angry denials notwithstanding.

  2. -From a speech delivered by Christopher F. Rufo on April 5, 2022, during a two-week teaching residency at Hillsdale College as a Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Journalism:

    “The 1960s saw the rise of new and radical ideologies in America that now seem commonplace—ideologies based on ideas like identity politics and cultural revolution. There is a direct line between those ideas born in the ’60s and the public policies being adopted today in leftist-run cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago.

    The leftist dream of a working-class rebellion in America fizzled after the ’60s. By the mid-1970s, radical groups like the Black Liberation Army and the Weather Underground had faded from prominence. But the leftist dreamers didn’t give up. Abandoning hope of a Russian-style revolution, they settled on a more sophisticated strategy—waging a revolution not of the proletariat, but of the elites, and specifically of the knowledge elites. It would proceed not by taking over the means of production, but by taking control of education and culture—a strategy that German Marxist Rudi Dutschke, a student activist in the 1960s, called “the long march through the institutions”—schools, universities, churches, the media, and so on.

    This march through our institutions, begun a half-century ago, has now proved largely successful. Over the past two years, I’ve looked at the federal bureaucracy, the universities, K-12 schools, and big corporations. And what I’ve found is that the revolutionary ideas of the ’60s have been repackaged, repurposed, and injected into American life at the institutional level.“

    It may not have been the traditional Marxist communist revolution, but thinking that Progressive ideology, which is based on those ideals and strategies, hasn’t penetrated our institutions in America is a delusion. Renaming with clever euphemisms is a hallmark of the left. In this case ‘Progressive’ sells much better politically than ‘Socialist’ or ‘Communist’. Republicans referring to Communism and Communists are simply calling it what it is, or at least as it has been traditionally known.

    • Get back to me when the insidiously sneaky pinko commies now in power that you apparently see everywhere finally show their color and start trying to seize the means of production. I’m not holding my breath, because this particular “analysis” is a glib delusion chockablock with lazy thinking and paranoia.

  3. “Progressive ideology, which is based on those [traditional Marxist communist] ideals and strategies, …”

    No. I don’t really buy that there is such a thing as “progressive ideology”, but if there were, it wouldn’t have a significant resemblance to “Marxist communist.” It’s really more in the FDR tradition. Republicans calling this Communism are cynical manipulators of the uninformed.

    • Not to mention that Christoper Rufo is about as far from an academically qualified and credible source as you can get.

  4. (Donn Cave)
    Ideology is simply a ‘system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy’. (From Google dictionary). I assume you’d agree that Progressives have ideas and ideals that form the basis of their priorities and policies. Ergo, there is such a thing as Progressive Ideology.

    The core principle of Marxism is the class division of society and class struggle. Accordingly, each society has oppressors and oppressed, with the oppressed revolting to build a new society. In real terms this was rousing up the proletariat (workers), against the bourgeoisie (capitalists), to start a revolution. The goal was to overthrow the existing government and replace it with a Socialist / Communist system. If you examine the Progressive movement you will quickly see that almost every theme they raise has a victim and an oppressor. For example, Black people being oppressed by white people or by the Police, or women oppressed by men, or gay people oppressed by straight people, etc, etc. The strategy has been to separate people into groups and pit them against each other. The proletariat against the bourgeoisie in the Marxist era is now the Progressive theme of the 99% against the 1%. Listen to someone like Bernie Sanders and you will soon hear him attack billionaires and talk about how their money should be used to make everything free (college, student loans, childcare, you name it). Redistribution of wealth is central, -as it is with Marxism. It’s all about equity (everyone gets the same share – socialism / communism), vs equality (everyone has the same shot at success – capitalism).

    -Consider adherence to the ideology. In Marxism, those that were in philosophical disagreement were purged. Today we call this Cancel Culture. If you don’t line up with Progressive dogma you are cancelled. Just this week we saw Congressional Progressives trying mightily to prevent Robert Kennedy Jr. from speaking before the sub-committee on censorship. The irony of attempting to censor Kennedy from engaging with the committee on censorship was lost on no one. Why do the Progressives hate Kennedy and why did they engage in the personal attacks on him, -even as he is a Democrat? It’s because he argues against Progressive ideology. Trying to silence him is right out of the Marxist playbook. And so on…

  5. I am perplexed by the Republican sycophants of Trump who fail to see his admiration of Putin as a threat to democracy, not from Communists but their more dangerous authoritarian clones.
    I’ve lived in Communist-ruled countries as a correspondent during the Cold War and can attest to the deprivations of liberty, free speech and opportunity in countries with alleged strongmen leaders.
    Putin’s quest for an expanded Russian empire will be fulfilled if Trump is in a position to sell out our democracy for whatever petty quid pro quo Putin offers.
    I’m not a Republican but I remember well the late Cold War days when neo-cons sounded the alarm about communism/authoritarianism/fascism that looms for the US in the current political delusions.

  6. It’s not communism we are talking about it’s authoritarianism, which is what Republicans supporting Putin-admiring Trump are encouraging. What we will end up with in a second Trump administration is a top-down, screw-the-proletariat, unconstitutional dictatorship that looks just like the repressive last decades of the Soviet Union.


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