The Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg has rejected President Donald Trump's State of the Union vow this week to remove "socialism" from American politics.
"I think the word has mostly lost its meaning, and it's certainly lost its ability to be used as a kill switch on debate," Buttigieg told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.
Buttigieg pointed to the Republican rhetoric in considering the Affordable Care Act as an attempt at modern-day socialism, saying it was started by a conservative think tank and a Republican governor in Massachusetts, Mitt Romney.
"If someone my age or younger is weighing a policy idea, and somebody comes along and says, 'you can't do that, it's socialist,' I think our answer is going to be, 'OK, is it a good idea or is it not?'" Buttigieg told CNN's Jake Tapper.
"And that word has also lost its power, especially when you think about the way it was applied to characterize, for example, the ACA, an idea that was invented by a conservative think tank, relying on market principles, implemented first by a Republican governor."
Buttigieg said socialist policy ideals are the beginning of a debate, not the end of it as President Trump suggests.
"I think he's clinging to a rhetorical strategy that was very powerful when he was coming of age 50 years ago, but it's just a little bit different right now," Buttigieg said. "I know, if you grew up during that Cold War period, then you saw a time in politics when the word socialism could be used to end an argument.
"Today, I think a word like that is the beginning of a debate, not the end of the debate.
"Look, America is committed to democracy, and we're essentially a market-based economy. But you can no longer simply kill off a line of discussion about a policy by saying that it's socialist."