Red Scare Billboard

Even Joe McCarthy might have been taken aback.

The billboard on North Dale Mabry seems like a “red-scare” time capsule: “Communism: Tampa’s No. 1 Enemy” with a photo of Tampa’s Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor. And then in superfluous, smaller print: “Vote Republican.” (Personal-injury, ambulance-chaser billboards never looked so classy.)

Yeah, we know that hard-core partisan GOPsters can’t stop demeaning the left over “socialism,” and we know it plays better on bumper stickers and rallies than in debates over who controls the means of production and all that. Most Americans don’t have a problem with, say, Sweden, but no one’s enamored of Marxist Cuba, Venezuela or North Korea. Groucho still resonates much more than Karl in this country.

But this odious billboard reflects the subterranean depths that Repugnicans, including the Hillsborough County RP and its chair Jim “The Green New Deal … a Trojan Horse for Communism” Waurishuk, will stoop to in order to muddle Castor’s chances of retaining her seat in a district impacted by redistricting. The Repugs know they have a base that can easily conflate socialism and communism, Joe Biden and Mao Zedong, Kamala Harris and Pol Pot and Bernie Sanders and Fidel Castro. The big lie—as we still see in the “Stop the Steal” campaign–still works with an easily manipulated, undereducated base groomed for fealty–not facts.

And one more thing—that hearkens back to the McCarthy Senate hearings days. Have you no decency, GOP? Yes, that was a rhetorical question.

Castor, 55, who’s been in Congress since 2007, has grown in the job—from encouraging normalized relations with Cuba, pushing for serious gun control and advocating for constituent social and infrastructure help to making the case for comprehensive immigration reform, supporting LGBT rights and meaningfully addressing climate change. And she deserves more than just re-election from a swing district. She also deserves respect instead of a cheap-shot taunt by those who, indeed, have no decency—let alone a country-first agenda.

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