President Trump hadn’t had much success dividing Democrats until he found a word that would provoke very different responses from different members of the party during his State of the Union address: socialism.
Trump’s warning of creeping socialism in the United States, deftly mentioned after a section of the speech on the unfolding political crisis in Venezuela, created an immediate public split among Democrats that was caught on live television.
Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Sens. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio) were among the lawmakers who stood with Republicans to applaud Trump when he pledged that the United States would never slide into socialism.
But other Democrats weren’t so happy about Trump’s choice of words — which was clearly meant to put them on the spot.
Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), another leading democratic socialist, smiled in response to Trump’s remark but stayed seated.
She later argued that Trump’s attack is a sign her growing success.
“I think it was great. I think he’s scared,” she told HuffPost. “He sees that everything is closing in on him. And he knows he’s losing the battle of public opinion when it comes to the actual substantive proposals that we’re advancing to the public.”
The different reactions reflect a battle within the Democratic Party that Trump and Republicans are eager to exploit.
Progressive policies are on the rise within the party.
WASHINGTON — As President Donald Trump prepares to meet North Korea’s Kim Jong Un for a second time, he’s out to replicate the suspenseful buildup, make-or-break stakes and far-flung rendezvous of their first encounter. The reality star American president will soon learn if the sequel, on this matter and many others, can compete with the original.
In his third year in office, Trump is starting to air some reruns.
Trump is headed into fresh negotiations with North Korea, is still pushing for his long-promised U.S.-Mexico border wall and is considering a new round of tax cuts. The focus on his greatest hits in part reflects Trump’s desire to fulfill campaign promises and energize voters for his 2020 re-election campaign. But it’s not without risks.
“The danger is the public starts recognizing this is Groundhog Day,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. “You keep thinking there is a win and there is no win. It’s not clear Trump is scoring durable history points.”