I’m a proud Democrat. I’m also a proud capitalist.

Given my background, I genuinely worry that some may take for granted the unique opportunities afforded citizens of this country, leading them to favor, or flirt with, socialist policies.

This term carries historical baggage that can evoke painful feelings in Americans whose families experienced communism or socialism in its darkest form. It’s not easy for me to explain to my Florida constituents who escaped Fidel Castro’s Cuba or Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuela that the socialism proposed by several of my colleagues is different than the socialism they endured. I can argue it’s like comparing apples and oranges. For them, understandably, it’s all poisonous fruit.

While Democrats who accept the socialist label are few and far between, the Republican Party as an institution has conducted itself irresponsibly in this capitalism-vs.-socialism debate. When congressional Republicans and the president don’t like a government program, they flippantly condemn it as sign of creeping socialism. For partisan reasons, they seek to paint the entire Democratic Party as drifting toward socialism, when the philosophy is espoused by a small minority of members. Arguably, these Republican tactics have done as much, if not more, to normalize the conversation about socialism than anything Democrats are doing.

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