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.