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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are flirting with socialism in ways they carefully and clearly ran away from in the past, handing President Trump a new way to unify Republicans — and to club his opponents.

  • It started with Democrats sitting silently as he railed against socialism in his State of the Union speech.
  • It intensified with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's release of a Green New Deal, a vague policy manifesto loaded with big-government policies.
  • The surge is unlikely to abate: Young, Twitter- and social-savvy Democrats favor socialism over capitalism. And no Democrat in politics today plays the social media game with more savvy than AOC. 

The White House, the Trump campaign — and the outside political advisers in Trump’s orbit — seem to be universally excited by the Green New Deal and many Democrats' embrace of socialism.

  • They've been far more optimistic about Trump's re-election chances this week than Swan has heard since the early days of Trump’s presidency.
  • And they're thrilled that so many of Trump’s potential 2020 opponents are endorsing the Green New Deal.

The Green New Deal calls for a World War II-level mobilization to put the U.S. on an aggressive pathway toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero, Axios' Ben Geman reports.

  • "Upgrading all existing buildings in the U.S. and building new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency."'
  • Working with farmers and ranchers "to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions ... as much as is technologically feasible."
  • "Guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States."

Andy Surabian, Republican strategist and former White House official, told Axios: "I think you’re gonna see Republicans start pointing out that the people who will be affected by this plan won’t be billionaires or rich people. It’s the middle, lower classes and poverty stricken areas of America."

  • "The only people who can afford to be environmentalists are billionaires."

Global warming, however, punishes the world's poorest — "hotter, drier and hungrier," as the N.Y. Times puts it.

Amy Harder asked Ocasio-Cortez whether her proposal feeds into Trump's claims about socialism. AOC replied:

  • "I find this hilarious, because this president seeks to expand government into the bodies of women. They seek to expand government to spontaneously generate detention centers all along our southern border."
  • "So this is not about who's expanding government. It’s about who we're working for, and we're choosing to work for the people of the United States." 

Marty Obst, senior political adviser to Vice President Pence: "While the President and Vice President support the Venezuelan people's struggle for freedom, the Democratic Party continues its lurch toward socialism."

  • "I would envision that the campaign will highlight the stark differences between the two parties on this policy among many others."

Be smart: Obst's quote is a signal that Pence and the political operation that surrounds him — which will play an important role in the Trump re-elect — plan to make Democratic socialism one of their main lines of attack.

Go deeper: The fight Trump and AOC both want in 2020

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 6 hours ago - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine — Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Prosecutors charge parents of Michigan school shooting suspect

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The parents of a 15-year-old accused of killing four students and wounding seven other people at a Michigan high school have been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, according to court documents.

The latest: Lawyers for James and Jennifer Crumbley told the Detroit News they are "returning to the area to be arraigned," after law enforcement officials announced a search for the Crumbleys had been initiated.