Please Stop With The Nonsense ‘Socialist’ Talk About President Obama

Let me first just say that many of my closest friends from high school and college are conservative and I’ve never had any problem with that.

They’re all very bright people who have intelligent, well-thought differences in philosophy with me and that’s fine. They’re moderate Republicans – not right-wing ideologues who are so easily-led so as to just parrot catchy buzzwords and phrases they hear on the radio from hate-mongers like Rush Limbaugh without taking the time themselves to actually understand the issue.

So when I hear these imbeciles screaming that President Barack Obama is somehow a “socialist” with their every breath, it both amuses me and frustrates me to no end at the same time. Most of these same people couldn’t tell you what a socialist is, let alone how Obama is supposed to be one. I know because I’ve asked some of them, only to be greeted with the same deer-in-the-headlights look every time. It’s these same people who nonetheless scream to the top of their lungs against “sharing the wealth” and “redistributing the wealth” and other coded words well above their intellectual pay grade without knowing how ridiculous they sound. And let’s be honest and acknowledge that a lot of that vitriol is racially-motivated.

Franklin D. Roosevelt heard the same “socialist” cries when implementing the New Deal immediately upon taking office in 1933 so as to try to drag the nation out of the economic calamity of the Great Depression. You know, real “socialist” stuff like the Social Security Act, FDIC and the Tennessee Valley Authority among others.

Our nation is in a scarily close economic quandary today, but Americans of every political persuasion welcome their Social Security benefits when they get up there in retirement age. So much so that just mentioning reducing Social Security is a political third rail to any politician who ever wishes to be re-elected to anything.

That’s your so-called “socialism” in action, helping the aging generation of our parents who have earned that money by having paid into the system their entire lives. Likewise, the facts are that the bulk of welfare recipients in this country are white and most of them live in the staunchly conservative states throughout the Deep South, like Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama. Yet these are the same impoverished, education-challenged states whose cries are the loudest against this so-called “socialist” president.

So it appears selective, that nobody on the GOP side seems to mind “socialism” when it benefits them, and it’s that hypocrisy that is my biggest problem with the tired mantra.

“Socialism” is by definition taking a collective pool of something and spreading it out equally for the greater good of all.

And just what is it that these people think the government (no matter who is in office) does with their taxes? You can bet that tax money from Georgia, Alabama or Mississippi most assuredly goes to helping build federal projects such as roads in states as distant as, say, Hawaii or New Mexico or even a dam in Utah.

What do they think Medicare is? Got news for ya, folks. It’s “socialism.” A national social insurance program created by the federal government in 1965, guaranteeing health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older and younger people with disabilities.

What do they really think minimum wage laws are? Government-sponsored “socialism” that obviously favors labor, but I don’t see anybody against that.

And let’s don’t forget about welfare – another one of the most obvious examples of “socialism.”

When a smart kid born into an impoverished background receives a Pell Grant that will allow him to attend college and have an opportunity for a better life, that’s also “socialism” because you’re clearly taking money from others to help that child.

And nobody (well, maybe some in the GOP and their extremist media personalities like Limbaugh and the equally-as-obnoxious Ann Coulter) with any reason would ever say that’s a bad thing.

We in America love the fact that, unlike many countries throughout the world, you can still have the opportunity to make something of yourself in this country we all love no matter the financial circumstances in which you were born. And, contrary to preferred GOP talking points, Republicans haven’t cornered the market on patriotism.

What these weak-minded and uninformed people call “socialism” is what many others – myself included – call making sure that everybody gets the same fair shot in this country.

And I very much like that idea.

And since when is it “socialism” to somehow reign in the unchecked corporate greed on Wall Street that caused the housing market to collapse like a house of cards and send our economy spiraling into the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression? Check your facts because big business has still made a lot of $$$$ since Obama took office. I only regret the president didn’t go further.

And as for ruining free enterprise? Check out this CNN report in May of this year.

“The Fortune 500 generated a total of $824.5 billion in earnings last year, up 16.4 percent over 2010. That beats the previous record of $785 billion, set in 2006 during a roaring economy. The 2011 profits are outsized based on two key historical metrics. They represent seven percent of total sales, vs. an average of 5.14 percent over the 58-year history of the Fortune 500. Companies are also garnering exceptional returns on their capital. The 500 achieved a return-on-equity of 14.3 percent, far above the historical norm of 12 percent.”

Yeah, life just stinks for the Wall Street types these days, doesn’t it?

And since when is it “socialism” to somehow want to make sure no American goes lacking for health insurance and dies needlessly? Harry Truman heard the same played-out “socialist” cries about him when he first broached the subject of universal health care in 1949.

A socialist? The same man who dared end World War II by having the temerity to drop the atomic bomb on Japan and who would send U.S. troops to war again a year later to save South Korea from communist North Korean aggression? Really?

Barack Obama has prosecuted the war on terror to a much higher degree than even his predecessor, George W. Bush, using repeated drone strikes in Pakistan and other places to decimate Al Qaeda leadership.

It was Obama, if you recall, who ordered the operation that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden. But I’m supposed to believe this same man is a socialist?


It was a good friend of mine from Georgia with very conservative leanings who got me going with all this “socialist” nonsense about President Obama a few days ago. Never mind that her family is currently receiving federal assistance to help them take care of a son born with Cystic Fibrosis. And I’m more than OK with that. They shouldn’t be financially destroyed for life while taking care of a sick child. But make no mistake – that’s clearly “socialism”, I told her. They’re taking the money of others to help her and her family in a time of need. I have no problem with that at all because I believe the government does have a definitive role to play in that area.

So it just struck me as incredulous to first hear her talking so disparagingly about the turn to “socialism” under Obama and the use of collective government funds to help certain individual groups.

I advised her to be careful about throwing rocks when you live in glass houses.

I likewise wondered to her if she were offended when hearing of Mitt Romney’s secretly-recorded comments disparaging people who took government assistance by saying that they felt entitled and took no personal responsibility in their lives. I would have been irate if I were her because I sure as heck know that she’s never been that kind of person. But we know that Romney assumes that anybody who receives government help is because he said as much. And he’s hardly alone in that kind of misbegotten thinking in upper GOP circles.

I have no problem if people choose to vote Republican because they have deeper philosophical differences with President Obama and the Democratic Party over the role of government.

That’s certainly everybody’s right to have a different opinion on the matter.

But I do have a short leash for stupidity and ignorance. People who blindly mouth the same garbage they hear from that blowhard Limbaugh and others like him without the slightest understanding of what they’re talking about.

And I know it can be inconvenient at times for them when the actual facts don’t bear out their case.

So imagine then my sheer joy and satisfaction when my good friend e-mailed me back earlier this week to tell me that I had made some good points.

It’s amazing what happens when you really think an issue through for yourself. At least assuming you can.

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