By Justin Chermol
When Democrats make the choice over their future presidential nominee, Republicans will already have their battle lines drawn, at least if this past weekend's CPAC convention is any indication: it's all about socialism.
Matt Schlapp, the Chairman of the American Conservative Union, and chairman of CPAC, told Cheddar's J.D. Durkin that the GOP is paying attention to the recent jump in socialist rhetoric, and its impact on young people.
"There's a lot of young people unfortunately that are being educated in an American educational system that's radicalizing them, that's making them be soft when it comes to these kinds of questions," Schlapp said. "I want our kids to be able to read, and to write, and to learn history, but not coming out as warriors in the Green New Deal army."
Republicans hope that the Democrats' turn leftward ー as seen in policy proposals like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All that are being heralded by progressive stars like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) ー will help push moderates and even Trump-weary Republicans toward the incumbent. And while it wasn't apparent from the far-right rhetoric of this year's CPAC speakers, the GOP faces headwinds from social and demographic changes in the country: the U.S. is getting more diverse ー and more liberal.
"Am I worried about it? No," Schlapp said. "Is it a concern? Sure."
The anti-socialist rhetoric has become a unifying force for conservatives as they rally behind a beleaguered president and against newly empowered Democrats. President Trump, always attuned to his base, made a point at his State of the Union of addressing the issue: "All of us are here today because we know that the future does not belong to those who believe in socialism."
Indeed, the term "socialism" still has deeply negative connotations to huge swaths of the electorate. According to a new NBC/WSJ poll, being a socialist is the least favorable aspect for a presidential nominee.
Rep. Roger Williams, a conservative Texan, said he's counting on young people to reject those left-wing ideals.
"The future of any business, the future of any country, is those young voters," Williams told Durkin. "So, we would empower them to continue to ask questions, do things like run for office, get engaged, and save their country, frankly, from liberal-left wing ideas that we see are scary right now. We are arguing over socialism over capitalism, are you kidding me? Who thought we'd ever do that?"
Williams acknowledged that not everyone in the GOP is in lockstep with President Trump's positions, but argued that Democrats' leftward shift makes their Party an unacceptable option for even moderate Republicans.
"I don't agree with him 100 percent," Williams said of Trump. "You don't have to agree with him 100 percent."
"The fact of the matter is, if you're a conservative ー if you agree with Donald Trump 80 percent, 70 percent, 90 percent ー the other side is no option because we agree with them on nothing right now."