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Is Barack Obama a socialist?

At an airport rally in Roswell, NM (a well-known landing spot for space aliens), Governor Palin warned against Obama’s tax proposals. “Friends,” she said, “now is no time to experiment with socialism.” And McCain, discussing Obama’s proposals, agreed that they sounded “a lot like socialism.”

“Communism” was the mean cudgel used by Republicans to beat up on Democrats years ago. When Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan accused John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson of socialism for advocating guaranteed healthcare for the aged and the poor, the implication was that Medicare and Medicaid would presage a communist America. When communism died 20 years ago, the label “socialism” was pasted on that cudgel.

After Obama explained to Joe the Plumber how he would benefit from his tax changes, Obama added casually, “I think that when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” McCain immediately began traversing the country, punching his fingers into air quotation marks around that taboo phrase “spread the wealth” to prove Obama was a socialist.

Roswellian and “Palinian” rhetoric aside, 95 percent of what this government does is “spread the wealth around.” Sarah Palin, nevertheless, referred to this as a new experiment.

If we spread the wealth around to gild the Pentagon, to subsidize sugar and corn growers or bail out Wall Street, it is corporate socialism. If it goes to Social Security or children’s healthcare, it is populist socialism. It’s all socialism, and it is not new. And we are all socialists.

Joe Howard Crews


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