In the not-too-distant history, the pronouncement of socialism in America would be immediately met with stern rebuke and denunciation.
However, the exact opposite happened Saturday when Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), amid progressive Democrats, denounced socialism.
While speaking at the California Democratic Party convention, Hickenlooper told the San Fransisco crowd that if Democrats want to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020, they will need traditional Democratic values in their corner — not socialism.
"If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big progressive goals, socialism is not the answer," Hickenlooper said.
The denunciation was met with immediate blowback, including a sea of boos lasting more than 30 seconds.
.@Hickenlooper receives boos from the audience at the @CA_Dem convention after saying “Socialism is not the answer”… https://t.co/xiT5bWcpOk— TicToc by Bloomberg (@TicToc by Bloomberg)1559425963.0
But Hickenlooper — a moderate Democrat who worked with Republicans during his years as Colorado's governor — took his socialism criticism one step further. He warned that if the Democratic Party is not careful with its embrace of quasi-socialist ideas, then they will singlehandedly ensure Trump is president four more years.
"You know, if we're not careful, we're going to end up re-electing the worst president in American history," he said, according to the Washington Post.
After his speech, Hickenlooper told The Hill that Republicans will use the Democratic Party's embrace of socialism to paint all Democrats as outside the mainstream of American orthodoxy.
If we don't draw a clear distinction between Democrats and our candidates and socialism, the Republicans will paint us into a corner that we can't get out of. Massive government expansions may not be strictly speaking socialism, but trust me Republicans will make it seem like socialism. In places like Ohio and Michigan and North Carolina and Wisconsin, places we have to win to beat Trump, we'll be starting out ten yards behind.
We need to be laser-focused on winning this election, and that's going to mean focusing on kitchen table programs that will actually improve people's quality of life.
Meanwhile, Hickenlooper told CNN he did not expect his message to be well-received.
"We had no illusions that everyone was going to embrace the message. We thought it was important to say, right? Not everyone in the party is going to rally to that perception but I feel that it needed to be said," he said.