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NRI Ideas Summit

Dan Crenshaw Warns of ‘the New Socialism’

From left: National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson, Representative Dan Crenshaw (R., Texas), and National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke (Pete Marovich)

Representative Dan Crenshaw (R., Texas) on Thursday warned the audience gathered at National Review Institute’s 2019 Ideas Summit that the repackaged socialism currently ascendant among a subset of young Democrats poses a real threat to the nation’s future.

Crenshaw, who was joined onstage by National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke and Kevin D. Williamson, pushed back on his interlocutors’ claim that the so-called New Socialists, led by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), will likely have a limited impact due to their lack of a true ideological foundation and their inexperience manipulating the levers of government.

“Well-intentioned liberalism always leads to progressivism. There’s no choice there,” Crenshaw said. “Once that action is taken the only thing you can run on is totalitarianism — you have no choice.”

Cooke, a U.K. native, contrasted Ocasio-Cortez and her comrades with the towering European intellectuals who popularized the movement they now claim as their own.

“I think many people out there calling themselves socialists, the people on magazine covers, are not real socialists,” Cooke said. Traditionally socialists “had theories of power, theories of history . . . they understood what they were talking about. I don’t see that in this new socialism. There’s a lot of sass in it. There’s a lot of pointing at countries that are not actually socialist and saying that they are.” 

While Cooke downplayed the ability of today’s socialists to effect policy change, he conceded that their incessant, social-media-driven messaging has affected our political discourse and will continue to do so going forward.

Williamson, for his part, likened much of the policy platform embraced by the new Democratic-socialists to a belief in magic, and argued that like those who believe in magic, socialists will eventually be forced into a harsh confrontation with reality.

“It’s the rediscovery of magic. They think that if you write the right words down on a piece of paper, that changes the underlying reality,” Williamson said. “Read things like the Green New Deal. They say ‘If we just create this legislation, we can do X,Y, and Z.’ And you have to explain that even if we pass a law saying we have to use an a alternative to airplanes, [those alternatives] don’t exist.”

Williamson went on to argue that, because their policy platform doesn’t conform to reality, the new socialists are at an inherent disadvantage relative to their ideological opponents.

“Their battle is with the underlying reality,” he said.

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