It’s probably the most frequent attack on Barack Obama from the right; he’s a socialist. Some people, like Newt Gingrich, have labeled Obama the “most leftist president in our history” in an attempt to invoke fear in the hearts of Americans for reasons that I laid out in my previous post “The Myth of Socialism in the United States”. However, calling Obama a socialist or even the most leftist president in our history is both ignorant of political philospohy or even American history. Socialism is the ownership of the means of production by the state. Since when does anything Obama does or even wants to do fit that definition? As far as American history is concerned, the president who has changed the most in terms of domestic policy was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, not Barack Obama. Attacking and labeling Obama as a “socialist” and the “most leftist president in history” are desperate attacks by Republicans to give themselves any credible platform to attack Barack Obama because every other attack belongs to the “been there, done that category”. That, or Republicans need a good history lesson. Here’s why these Republican attacks on Obama are completley baseless, uneducated, and, hence, ignorant.
As defined before, socialism is the ownership of the means of production by the state. Now, let’s briefly recap Obama’s presidency in terms of his domestic policy. First, Obama extended the Bush taxcuts for the wealthy in 2010. Second, he passed Obamacare, which is probably the biggest submission of the United States government to private insurance companies in history because it forces us to become customers of private insurance firms. Third, in an effort to stimulate the economy, Obama provided stimulus packages to save private Auto industries such as GM and Chrysler as well as multinational insurance companies such as AIG. Fourth, in an effort to promote clean and renewable energy, Obama provided government subsides to the solar panel manufacturer, Solyndra, which went defunct in 2011. Yes Republicans, this guy has socialist written all over him. Yes Republicans, you have hit the nail on the head as usual. Now, let’s get serious here. A typical socialist politician believes in policies such as universal healthcare, higher taxes, paid vacations, and improved infastructure. A look back at Obama’s presdiency has shown that his policies fit in with none of the policies of a typical socialist politician. However, the fact is that Obama does not even fit in witht he basic definition of a socialist. Obama is very much a capitalist, he just believes that the government should intervene into the market to ensure that it is fair and just for all as well as ensure that the practices of private corporations don’t result in financial ruin. This is evidenced by his preference to hand out stimulus packages rather than the outright nationalization of struggling firms. If Barack Obama was truly a socialist, he would have nationalized AIG instead of providing stimulus funds. Yes, the U.S government was a majority shareholder of AIG after the bailout and did change the corporate setup of AIG, but AIG was still allowed to keep the profits they made and the U.S government is currently in the process of of selling of its stakes in AIG. That is government intervention in the capitalist market, not outright nationalization. These economic policies are the same or even more conservative than those of Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, who is a member of the Christian Democrats party, which is a center-right party in Germany. Wait, socialism is a far-left ideology, not a center-right ideology. Furthermore, the fact is that here in the U.S we still have private health insurance and electricity and Obama has absolutely no intention of nationalizing those firms. If Obama is a socialist, then he must be a pretty bad one.
Some notable Republicans such as Michelle Bachmann and Newt Gingrich labeled Obama the “most leftist and extreme president in the history of the United States” during there efforts to win the Republican nomination. However, this is yet another misconception of Obama from the right. The title of the most leftist president in our history belongs to one of the greatest presidents in history, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s New Deal policies of the Great Depression were radical and extreme for their time. The New Deal institued the Social Security program, virtual government takeover of agriculture and the temporary creation of government controlled agricultural markets, and massive amounts of money spent on public works. Oh, and one other tiny detail; Roosevelt passed the Revenue Act of 1935, which imposed a 79% income tax rate on any citizen making more than $5 million. Obama can’t even pass the Buffet Rule, which would impose a flat tax rate of 35% on all citizens. Obama’s government spending under Obama is only at a meagre 1.4% of the GDP; laughable numbers compared to the 8.1% of the GDP under Bush and even the 4.9% during the late Regan years, who, by the way, raised taxes at least 11 times during his presidency, something Obama has never done. If government spending under Obama cannot even compare to that of Bush or Regan, two presdients lauded as model conservatives, how can they compare to the 8.0% of the GDP spending of Roosevelt in which the U.S government had a share of over 52 percent of the economy. When the policies of Obama and Roosevelt are actually compared, Roosevelt’s policies make Obama look like a fiscal conservative, let alone the “most leftist and extremist president in our history”. But, then again, Republicans like to forget the past.
A hard examination of Obama’s presidency shows that it has been anything but a leftist presidency, dissapointing many of those who lean towards the politcal left who voted him into office. If anything, Obama’s presidency has actually been marred by constantly succumbing to Republican demands and policies, evidenced by the fact that he extended the Bush taxcuts and passed a healthcare law which Bill Maher has described as ‘the biggest blow job of a law to private insurance companies ever passed”, also known as Obamacare. Yet Reublicans still hurl this ridiculous attack towards Obama intentionally because they lack any sort of politcal platform to criticize Obama’s presidency with facts, or, even worse, out of ignorance of the very ideology with which they despise. Democracy works beautifully when both the right and the left have mutual respect for each other’s opinions, yet that respect is contingent upon those opinions being based on facts, or, at the very least, logic. Calling Obama a socialist is neithier factual nor logical. Therefore, Republicans lose and sort of respectability or credibility in my eyes when they have to resort to this cowardley attack in a feeble attempt to tarnish and undermine Obama’s reputation. Not all Republicans are ignorant enough to lobby this attack against Obama, and the majority of them aren’t. Yet it is the minority that are ignorant enough to do that, unfortunetly, cause the entire Republican party to lose credibility. So please, stop calling Obama a socialist, because, if Obama is a socialist, he is a really bad one.