Since President Obama took the oath of office it has become the rhetoric of the GOP that anything that doesn’t agree with them is “socialist” or “leading us towards socialism.” It seems, historically, that this is the tactic of the Republicans every time the Democrats propose policies (mainly health care reform) that they don’t agree with. The fallacy of their statements is that they have made them repeatedly throughout history, and America is still not a Socialist nation. Any time that the Republicans do not hold the Presidency, and cannot push their agenda, they resort to McCarthyism. Never once in our history has a President advocated for the complete Government take-over of all private industries. I have friends that identify as Socialist and they can’t believe that they are being so grossly misrepresented by the right-wing media. To Republicans, the term “Socialist” or “moving towards Socialism” has come to mean ANY industry involved with the Government. Republicans are also arguing that if you support any type of Government-run agency then you must be a socialist who supports a “nanny-state.” It’s very easy to compile a list of Presidents called “socialist” by their enemies for policies which did not agree with the Republicans.
- President Obama is called a “socialist” for wanting to raise taxes on the wealthy, bailing out the auto-industry and for his health care bill.
- President Clinton was called a “socialist” for wanting to take 60% of the budget surplus over the course of 15 years and put it towards Social Security, while investing a portion in the private sector. He was also a “socialist” for wanting to raise taxes and expand health care.
- President Carter was called a “socialist” for creating the Department of Energy and the Department of Education, and for wanting to expand health care.
- President Johnson and President Kennedy were called “socialist” for introducing The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, with President Johnson also a “socialist” for establishing Medicare and Medicaid.
- President Truman was called a “socialist” for supporting “The Fair Deal”, and “The New Deal”, and for wanting to expand health care. His health care reform ideas have since been acknowledged as the inspiration for Medicare and Medicaid.
- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was called a “socialist” for introducing “The New Deal”, and for proposing universal health care as part of the Social Security Act.
Are you starting to see a pattern here? When I started to realize this pattern emerging that seems to target the Democratic leadership, I started wondering; “what do Republicans think socialism means?” So I decided to find out. I asked some Republicans how they personally define “socialism”. Here are some of the answers I got:
“it’s everyone working as hard, or little as they choose, to contribute to a fund that everyone deserves an entitlement to by law, regardless of how much of a contribution they have made” – Robert
“It’s my understanding that if someone is a “Socialist” it merely means that person has the belief that government has to be and do everything for its people. For example in a socialist government you would find that radio, television, and newspapers would be government owned and operated. Foods, healthcare, and many (if not all) services are provided by a socialist government. If you can imagine every private business in the United States, taken over by government, that would be an example of Socialism. If you can think of our recent bailouts, a socialist acted occurred. No matter how innefficient a business could act, it was funded by government to stay alive. If capitalism would have been allowed to happen, these business would have been bankrupt and forced to close their doors. So, someone who is a socialist would support the ideal of the government providing all. I think that’s the best way I can respectfully explain what a socialist is.” – John
“Socialism is a system in which the government controls companies and industries. GM is a good example. Healthcare insurance is another example coming in the future” – Brian
“Socialism to me is government using regulations/ rules/ laws/ oppression to control it’s citizens and treat them like stupid peasants. Every time the government writes a law that makes a decision for the people, it dumbs the citizens down a little more. I’d say that today’s socialism is about controlling the people.” – Douglas
“To me my vision (not definition)of socialism comes from the UK in the 1960s and 70s. Essentially this:
A decaying and decrepit society. Lack of competition, lack of drive on the part of the populace, gov’t bureaucrats running everyone’s life. Labor strife, companies owned by the govt, unproductive and uncompetitive. Achievement punished, innovation crushed.” – Emil
Ok, so what I can summarize from these responses and the others that I have received is that the common perception of “socialism” or “moving towards socialism” is when the Government is interfering in the private sector, as well as the actions of any agency that is funded by taxpayer money. I should make it clear that I’m not a proponent of socialism, and I don’t believe that Government should take over the private sector. However, by Republicans’ definitions, the following parts of our society are “moving us towards ‘socialism’”:
Public roads, public utilities, public schools, public libraries, public pools, public beaches, the Armed Forces, Police Departments, Fire Departments, colleges, college sports teams, NASA, The Lawrence Livermore Institute, DARPA which created the internet, The Hoover Dam, Medicare, Social Security, all public roads, road signs, traffic lights, the FDA, the EPA, veteran’s hospitals, 911 service, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, section 8 housing, food stamps, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Smithsonian Institute, opera houses, and just about every other institution that you can think of that’s funded or maintained by taxpayer money. These are perfect examples of “redistribution of wealth” where industries are completely “socialized” or funded by taxpayer money.
When I shared this information with the Republicans I know, I got an unusual response. I was told that none of these industries are “socialized”, even though the Government controls these agencies, because they don’t produce any goods or services. Republicans will tell you that the Government is not capable of producing goods or services.
This is probably the most important part of this entire article. This is exactly what you can expect to hear if you ever confront Republican’s version of “socialism”. Here’s the fallacy in that statement. all of those agencies produce goods or services.
Regulatory agencies produce a regulatory service. The FDA regulates our food to make sure it’s healthy for human consumption. Without them we would have no regulations on food and drugs, and people would be much more likely to get sick and die from contaminated food products. The EPA protects our environment to make sure that corporations aren’t over-polluting and causing irreparable harm to our environment and health. These services also create jobs because of the need for regulators. Would you trust companies to regulate themselves? For some reason most Republicans would, but to any rational person that is unreasonable.
The Armed Services. Police Departments, and Fire Departments provide vital services to our Country.
Public Roads are a product that is provided by the Government. If you ever drive anywhere then you are participating in what many believe to be the definition of “socialism”.
People making minimum wage can get assistance from food stamps and Section 8 if they’re living below the poverty line and that’s completely socialized.
By the Republicans’ definition we are already well on our way to “socialism”. The truth of the matter though, is that we are not headed towards “Socialism”. Advocating a system of health care where everyone receives health care, and not just the wealthy, does not mean that you advocate an entire Government take-over of the Private sector. Being ok with your tax dollars being spent on social programs doesn’t mean you advocate socialism. Wanting the wealthy to pay higher taxes than the poor does not mean you advocate socialism. Preaching social justice or supporting social welfare programs doesn’t make you socialist. Republicans want to use scare words like “socialism” or “big Government” or “liberal” to promote their agenda. The truth is that they know and we know that we are not headed towards socialism. We’re so far from it that just the thought of attaining it is unrealistic.
From now on when a Republican tells you that you support “socialism” make sure to tell them that if they are truly opposed to anything socialized they need to turn in their Social Security Card IMMEDIATELY, and stop using any services that are provided by the Government and taxpayer-funded, because they are “headed down the road to “socialism.”
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