Venezuela is in crisis. The country faces a devastating economic collapse, the buildup to which has included shortages of food and medicine, mass emigration, and political protests marked by violence. The situation in Venezuela is deeply terrifying, yes, but its origins are also widely misunderstood, giving President Trump a lot of room to bloviate about Big Scary Socialism.
According to CNN, Trump did just that on Monday at a speech in Miami, railing against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to a crowd comprising many Venezuelans who decamped to the United States amid the political turmoil. His talking points, however, seemed mostly centered on leveraging a crisis for his own political gain, loudly demonizing both international socialist regimes and any efforts to implement socialist policies in the United States.
“And to those who would try to impose socialism on the United States, we again deliver a very simple message: America will never be a socialist country,” Trump said, to cheers.
It’s pretty convenient for Trump and the Republicans that Venezuela’s tipping point has hit around the same time progressive Democrats and activists are trying to rally around legislation like the Green New Deal, which right-wing talking heads are working hard to paint as a socialist wish list. It is true that the sweeping climate change-mitigating plan includes elements of socialism. Popular policies like Medicare for All and implementing higher taxes on the rich are also, yes, rooted in socialism.
Many more countries have survived democratic socialism than nosedived into tyranny and destruction. But look how easy it is to exploit a room full of traumatized potential voters in a battlefield state!
Do you know why Venezuela is falling apart? A drop in oil prices, for one thing. For another, corruption, failed democracy, and bad leadership. I wonder what that looks like?