This week Hillary Clinton became the second prominent Democrat to refuse to answer the question, “What’s the difference between a socialist and a Democrat?”
In July MSNBC host Chris Matthews stumped Democratic national chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) with the question. Asked three times, Wasserman Schultz first looked blank, then evaded: “The relevant debate that we’ll be having this campaign is what’s the difference between a Democrat and a Republican….The difference between a Democrat and Republican is that Democrats fight to make sure everybody has an opportunity to succeed and the Republicans are strangled by their right-wing extremists.”
On Tuesday Matthews asked Clinton the same question. Clinton could see it coming, and she did say of socialism, “I’m not one.” But pressed to explain “What’s the difference between a socialist and a Democrat?” she too retreated to boilerplate:
I can tell you what I am, I am a progressive Democrat … who likes to get things done. And who believes that we’re better off in this country when we’re trying to solve problems together. Getting people to work together. There will always be strong feelings and I respect that, from, you know, the far right, the far left, libertarians, whoever it might be, we need to get people working together.
Hey, thanks for the “libertarians” plug, Madam Secretary! But seriously, why is this a hard question? Here’s a clear answer:
“Socialists believe in government ownership of the means of production, and Democrats don’t.”
Would that be a true statement? If so, why don’t Clinton and Wasserman Schultz just say it?