The word “socialist” is being inappropriately applied to Obama and Democrats in general. We’ve all heard the word since the 2008 election. Recently, with conservative ire at the large budget deficit and health care, it’s being thrown about a lot more. At the recent Tea Party Convention, Obama was labeled “a committed socialist ideologue” by former congressman Tom Tancredo. This mislabeling is being taken even further to comparisons with Hitler and Nazis.
Just as a little background, here is a dictionary’s definition of socialism: “A theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.” Whatever Obama’s policies may be, whether you approve or not, they do not even approach socialism. Socialism is on the far left of the political spectrum, while Democrats are center left. To give some perspective, Republicans are center right, and anarchists are far right.
When one looks at the political spectrum of the United States versus that of Europe, it is quite obvious that both the Republicans and the Democrats are very near the center of the political spectrum, partially because of our elective system. The alignment of Americans on the political spectrum resembles a bell curve; therefore, the closer to the center a party can place themselves, the more people will agree with them and therefore vote for them. With the “winner takes all” system of electing congressmen and presidents, this leads to two parties that are extremely close to the center on the political spectrum.
Another point – government, by definition, has “socialist” features. All governments tax people through various manners, and spend this money for the benefit of everyone. It’s how roads are built, and it’s how everyone gets a free education. And for those of you out there saying “but Obama is increasing taxes” – Obama’s proposal only increases taxes on individuals who make $200,000 a year or families that make $250,000 dollars a year (from 35 percent to 39.6 percent). Or in other words, only 2 percent of Americans. That hardly makes him a socialist. Denmark, a truly socialist country, taxes its wealthiest about 68 percent of their income, nearly double that of the US.
My goal with this article isn’t to convince anyone that Obama’s policies are right (or wrong). It is merely to attempt to start bringing the debate back to what really matters, which is the issues. I know this is probably wishful thinking on my part (and overly idealistic), but I want people and politicians of all political alignments to be able to sit down and have a civil, reasoned debate without the argumentum ad hominem and name calling which does nothing but radicalize the debate and make it harder for both sides to compromise. I want a political debate where people are informed, knowledgeable about the issues and are, above all, rational, logical and ethical.