I was taught at school that it might be wise before categorizing someone, to list some criteria for any label you were considering for them, to see how they stack up against it. So, given all the name calling aimed at President Obama (1961-), that he is a ‘socialist’, I thought maybe it was time to use the approach I was taught in school on this issue. It may also be a contribution to the George Orwell project of purging the language of outright falsehoods and guilt by association and inuendo.
But let me first focus on the absurd idea Obama is a Communist. I don’t know about you, but my criteria for Communist is: seizing state power via a coup not an election, nationalizing all major industries, creating a Gulag for political opponents, collectivizing farms, vesting all power in a single Leninist party, eliminating the Kulaks, and seizing all the assets of the wealthy. Hmm, not a lot of sign of any of that. He doesn’t even make first base. I mean the Kulaks are untouched last time I asked them. And he hasn’t laid a finger on my wealth. What’s up with that. 🙂 I always pride myself on the fact that I can tell the difference between Sweden and North Korea’s governments.
So what about socialist? Let’s look at his major policies that he has actually followed. His foreign policy is pretty well identical to George W Bush: including a surge in Afghanistan like George W’s surge in Iraq, but he has had more success in finally killing Bin Laden. He has continued Bush policies on Iran and North Korea, China and much of the rest of the world. So I don’t see much ‘socialism’ there. Business as usual more like it, defending US interests including business interests world-wide.
Economically, he bailed out Wall Street and the Auto Industry, and George W did the same, and has subsequently supported what Obama did. George W is probably the most conservative President we ever had, so is he a socialist too? And Obama can’t wait to get GM back in private hands. He also, albeit reluctantly, continued the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and didn’t veto them.
He has done nothing major on the environment or immigration, more’s the pity. George W of course tried to sensibly reform immigration and the yahoos in his party blocked it. And, of course, a free market theoretically includes free market in labor aka immigration, which free marketeers conveniently overlook. And of course, Obama gets lots of campaign finance from those well known crypto-communists on Wall Street.
He has introduced Obamacare, which is almost identical to both Mitt Romney’s scheme in Massachusetts, and also the plan the Republicans proposed in the early 1990s as an alternative to Hilary Clinton’s plan. Hmm…this is tough.
Now I will cut those, who think Obama a socialist, one bit of slack as this is a fair blog, though opinionated, no doubt. Obama does want rich people to pay more tax. In fact, he is going after tax evaders, who burden the rest of us, and he does want capital gains to bear the same rate as earned income, and he would reverse the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and make millionaires pay more tax. Well, surely that’s socialist isn’t it? However, polls show 70-75% of Americans agree with him on this, so the problem of calling this socialist, is that you are calling 70-75% of the electorate socialist, and so they might as well vote for Obama this year, if that is the case. Not what you had in mind?
I could go on, and welcome comments adding to the list of criteria and commenting on it. Maybe continuing support for contraception is a socialist idea? Or treating women with respect? Or single moms? Keeping the state out of our bedrooms? I might be missing a big item, like Gay Marriage; oh my! Oh and he might have been born overseas; that would make him by definition a socialist perhaps? Though of course he was born in the US, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was born of overseas too: does that make him a socialist? Socialist Terminator? Tricky this stuff, eh?
So why is Obama called a socialist? Maybe it is because he suffers from that hard-to-fix problem: GWB.
GWB? What’s that? ‘Governing While Black’. If that’s your criteria, I have no answer to it. If by definition any African American in a position of power, even an incompetent like Clarence Thomas, or a soldier like Colin Powell, whoever, is a socialist going after white wealth by definition, by dint of his/her race, well then I guess Obama by that criteria is a socialist.
President Obama below with that socialist institution the US Military (Well it is after all tax payer funded, Federal not State run, has state healthcare, schools, retirement plans, and best I know you can’t any longer buy a military officer’s commission on the free market, shocking though that must be to the wealthy.)