The other night I was having a conversation about both-siderism with a couple of anti-Trump Republican partisans who continue to insist, in the age of Trump, that Both Sides Are Just As Bad™. One of them actually kept saying those exact words; “Both sides are just as bad.” I pushed back, saying, “No, they’re not; one is worse.” I didn’t say which one. But I insisted repeatedly that they are not both ”just as bad,” making it clear that I was not saying one is bad and one is good, or that only one is bad, I was only saying that one is worse than the other. At one point I said, as I often do, that pretending that Both Sides Are Just As Bad™ only makes the side that is actually worse, worse.
To which one responded, “Well, then the Democratic Party is the one that’s worse.”
I asked, “In what respect?”
“Because they want to take money from the successful people, the ones who are living the American dream, and just give it to people who don’t want to work.”
I replied, “I know no one who wants that.”
“Yes, that’s what the Democratic party is all about. They want socialism.”
“No, it’s not.”
“Yes, it absolutely is.”
After a couple more is-not-is-too’s, I gave up. Under the circumstances (which I won’t get into here), nothing good would have come from pursuing or continuing that conversation.
I suppose it’s possible for someone to believe that progressive taxation and having a social safety net (i.e., collecting taxes from those who can afford them and providing services and assistance to the needy) is actually worse than ... oh, I don’t know ... theocratic oligarchy, white nationalism, oppressing women, persecuting gay people and non-white immigrants, voter suppression, trading arms for hostages, cynically and hypocritically impeaching a sitting President for purely political reasons, blowing up a balanced budget, going to war on false pretenses, aggressively promoting guns, pollution and religious fundamentalism, stealing a Supreme Court seat, and writing a tax code to benefit themselves and their wealthy donors at everyone else’s expense.
Honestly, if the worst thing the Democratic Party can be accused of doing (or that makes it “worse” than the GOP) is wanting to collect income taxes from those with enough income to afford them, and using some of that money to help the poor, the sick, the elderly and the disabled — something every civilized society on earth does, BTW — I think I can live with that. And I think I can live with my voting preference.
Plenty of people, like this person, think the Democratic Party just “want[s] socialism.” You know who doesn’t think that? Socialists. If Democrats just “want socialism,” they would have nominated Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton.
Republicans, on the other hand, nominated Donald Trump. And no matter how much these people claim to oppose or disown or despise Trump, he embodies everything the Republican Party stands for at this moment in history. That party is, in its essence, exactly what he is: A selfish, ignorant, narcissistic, immature, self-praising, rich white faux-Christian chauvinistic racist gangster who lies constantly, believes in nothing, and hates everybody.
But having a social safety net is “worse.”