The Democratic Party has lurched so far toward the left in recent years that a concerning number of prominent Democrats — including several 2020 presidential contenders — have begun to openly embrace socialism as opposed to the system of capitalism our nation was founded and built to greatness upon.
There has long been a fringe element of the ideological left in America that has espoused socialism as the preferred system of economics and governance, but that view has moved frighteningly from the fringe to the mainstream these days.
There is, however, at least one Democratic 2020 contender who is not yet prepared to abandon the classic American values of free enterprise, entrepreneurship, self-sufficiency, and an at least slightly limited and restrained government — former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Unfortunately, Hickenlooper was loudly booed for a long time at a major Democratic Party event on Saturday as he made it clear that, in his view, “socialism is not the answer” to our nation’s problems.
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) June 1, 2019
Speaking at the California Democratic Party 2019 Convention in San Francisco, Hickenlooper said, “But let me be clear: If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big, progressive goals, socialism is not the answer.”
That remark sparked a crescendo of loud boos from the left-leaning crowd of Democratic base voters and activists, a chorus of negativity that carried on for at least 30 seconds.
To his credit, Hickenlooper attempted to continue with his speech in spite of the continuous boos and shouts against his stance in defense of capitalism.
He noted that he’d been re-elected to lead a “purple state” in 2014, which he called “one of the worst years” electorally for the Democratic Party.
But then he said something in response to the boos that only set the crowd off even worse than before.
Hickenlooper said, “Ya know, if we’re not careful, we’re going to end up helping to re-elect the worst president in American history.”
That remark only prompted a fresh chorus of boos from the crowd, a clear signal that they thoroughly disagreed with Hickenlooper’s reticence to abandon American-style capitalism in favor of socialism.
Speaking with The Hill after his speech, Hickenlooper showed a refreshing realism for a Democrat.
“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,” he said.
“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 10 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,” he added.
That may have signaled how he plans to differentiate himself from the open socialists in his party by portraying himself as a pragmatic politician that will tack toward the moderate center instead of veering further and further to the left.
Hickenlooper most certainly is not considered a top-tier 2020 candidate for Democrats, and it remains unclear at this point if he will even reach the thresholds set by the Democratic National Committee to be included in the first major primary debate.
As of now, Hickenlooper has reached 1 percent support in at least three polls but has yet to reach the mark of 65,000 individual campaign donors to be included.
Judging by how furiously he was booed for simply denouncing socialism at a Democratic Party convention in California, it may not matter if he reaches the debate stage or not, as the party activists and base have made it clear that they will reject him and the American value of market capitalism.