Socialist? Not quite.
Posted by Ron Coleman on October 28, 2008
Lest anyone had any remaining doubts about what Mr. Obama really meant when he told the now-famous “Joe the Plumber” that he (Barack Obama) wanted to “share the wealth,” yesterday’s disclosure of the Senator’s 2001 Public Radio interview should close the loop. As he so often does when not befriended by his teleprompter, Mr. Obama let slip with the truth in 2001, just as he did on the rope line with Joe. And it is a truth most hardworking Americans would do well to take with them to the voting booth on November 4. Said Mr. Obama:
“But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of the wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent, as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break us free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution … And the Warren Court interpreted, in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties … I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change.”
For those who may have difficulty deciphering Mr. Obama’s unscripted bloviations, it’s all very simple (despite his campaign’s frenzied denials): Barack Obama is a socialist who believes in taking from the haves and giving to the have nots. Lest anyone take umbrage at such a characterization, let’s get one other thing straight (in addition to the fact that government has not and cannot create wealth): There is absolutely nothing wrong with a socialist running for President of the United States. But, there is something dreadfully wrong with that socialist denying his own ideology — even when his own words betray his denials.
Sorry. I don’t see anything socialist in that sound bite. NOTHING. Lest anyone take umbrage at such a characterization, let’s get one other thing straight: There is absolutely nothing wrong with criticizing a socialist for running for President of the United States. But, there is something dreadfully wrong with turning someone who is merely a big-government liberal into a “socialist” for political purposes.
What is a socialist? Socialism is indeed a broad category of political prescriptions but, as ever, let us start with this paragraph from the Wikipedia entry for “Socialism” (emphasis added):
Some socialists advocate complete nationalization of the means of production, distribution, and exchange; while others advocate state control of capital within the framework of a market economy. Social democrats propose selective nationalization of key national industries in mixed economies combined with tax-funded welfare programs; Libertarian socialism (which includes Socialist Anarchism and Libertarian Marxism) rejects state control and ownership of the economy altogether and advocates direct collective ownership of the means of production via co-operative workers’ councils and workplace democracy.
Just as we remember it: Socialism, fundamentally, is premised on the non-private ownership of at least some of the means of production. Obviously at best the only argument you can make for Obama-as-socialist, based on the sound bite quoted above, is that he is a “social democrat,” i.e., one who “propose[s] selective nationalization of key national industries in mixed economies combined with tax-funded welfare programs.”
So: What industry did Barack Obama propose to nationalize in his remarks, or in any remarks?
None. He proposed none, and in all probability he never will.
Harry Truman — now there was a socialist. He tried to nationalize the entire steel industry. But what would conservatives give today for a world full of Democrats like Truman?
People, you don’t have to be a socialist to be “dangerous” as a matter of economics, budget, tax policy, or, for that matter, liberty. But if you want healthy economies, balanced budgets, fair taxes — and liberty — you have to know your political economy, and you have to know who is and who isn’t a Red, if only to maintain your own credibility as loyal opposition.
Conservatives and libertarians playing the “Red scare” card are losing that, fast. We like to sling the terminology of political theory, constitutional law and economics but by all indications many of us have no idea what wey’re talking about. And that is not only no formula electoral victory, it is a suicide pact for the oppositing, rebuilding and renaissance.
Let’s grow up. If we can’t win on the merits, what’s the point? Haven’t we learned enough from the experience of a nearly principles-free Republican political class? Don’t we want something better?
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