Calling someone a socialist is simply a smear invented by the Republican Party to undermine Democratic politicians, wrote former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum in a Washington Post op-ed.
Gillum, who lost the Florida governor's race in 2018 to Ron DeSantis, said Republicans have used the socialist label to play on the fears of voters with ties to Latin American nations in which socialism has resulted in disaster, such as Venezuela, Nicaragua, or Cuba.
"Perhaps more than anywhere else in the country, the traumatizing histories of authoritarian socialist regimes are active memories for voters in Florida," Gillum wrote. "For the thousands of Floridians who come from Cuba, Venezuela or Nicaragua, the word 'socialism' is rife with deep pain and anger. Republicans exploit this experience, preying on the fears of immigrants and their families."
While acknowledging the colossal failure of socialism in those nations, Gillum then makes an explanation for those within his own political party who either explicitly identify as socialists, essentially saying they only do so because capitalism has treated them so poorly.
"Some in my party proudly identify as Democratic socialists, in part because they have been the victims of the unfettered capitalism of the 1990s and 2000s that culminated in the 2008 financial crisis," Gillum wrote. "But every single Democratic candidate, elected official and activist I know, regardless of labels, is a champion for opportunity, democracy and human freedom."
In fact, Gillum wrote, President Donald Trump is more like Latin American socialist dictators than any Democrat is.
"It is ironic, of course, because with each passing day, Trump is proving that he is the spitting image of the Latin America authoritarians who govern through fear and coercion," he wrote. "The president, by word and deed, has betrayed the most basic principles of our democracy by bullying allies to manipulate elections, enriching himself and his family from his office, and attacking the free press. These tactics don't belong just to him; they are straight from the playbook of every dictator."
To recap, Gillum claims the Democrats who openly support socialism are being smeared by Republicans when they're called socialists. And despite his capitalist policies, President Trump is more like authoritarian socialist Latin American dictators because he is harsh toward the media.