When that "socialist: is Barack Obama! CNN Politics has this item: Ask the card-carrying socialists: Is Obama one of them?
"Socialized health care" is on its way. The "socialist agenda" is taking over America. And best of all, Barack Obama, a "committed socialist ideologue," is in the Oval Office.
But Wharton, co-chair of the Socialist Party USA, sees no reason to celebrate. He's seen people with bumper stickers and placards that call Obama a socialist, and he has a message for them: Obama isn't a socialist. He's not even a liberal.
I got this from an e-mail from Frank Llewellyn, National Director of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Read on below for more.
I am a charter member of DSA and have expressed my objection to that label being used as a pejorative here in many a diary. Frank goes on to say this in his e-mail:
I was quoted extensively in a CNN.com article on the oft repeated charge of Obama's socialism. We're always happy to let people know that he is not one of us.
There is more in the CNN article of interest from Wharton as well:
Obama's opponents have long described him as a socialist. But what do actual socialists think about Obama? Not much, says Wharton.
"He's the president whose main goal is to protect the wealth of the richest 5 percent of Americans."
He and others say the assertion that Obama is a socialist is absurd.
"It makes no rational sense. It clearly means that people don't understand what socialism is."
Definitions of socialism vary, but most socialists believe workers and consumers who are affected by economic institutions should own or control them.
Not all socialists, though, want to confiscate personal property. Democratic Socialists are more interested in protecting ordinary people from unregulated capitalism through regulation and progressive taxation.
Some of the socialist agenda is already part of American life, according to Wharton and others.
Social Security, Medicare, unemployment benefits -- all reflect socialistic values, says Van Gosse, an associate professor of history at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who has researched socialist movements in the United States and Latin America.
Here's some of what they said about DSA:
Frank Llewellyn, national director of the Democratic Socialists of America, says the bailout had nothing to do with socialism.
Llewellyn says a socialist leader would have at least nationalized some of the troubled banks.
"He gave them [the banks] too much with no strings attached," Llewellyn says. "Banks that were too big to fail are bigger, and they can still fail."
How about Obama's bailout of the Detroit auto industry? During the bailout, the federal government assumed partial ownership of General Motors.
"It's not socialism," Llewellyn says. "The mere fact that the government owns something or has a stake in it, doesn't make it socialist. If that was true, you would say that we have a socialist army. The government owns the army."
Defining socialism is complex, Llewellyn says, but it starts with a simple goal: Socialists want to introduce democratic features into the economy to reduce inequality.
The economy has "to be run for the overall benefit of the entire population, not for the benefits of a very few people."
By that measure, Obama's economic policies are not socialist, he says.
"He's trying to save capitalism from itself rather than a radical trying to change into a new system," Llewellyn says.
This kind of name-calling is not new. Civil rights demonstrators and the politicians who passed Medicare were also called socialists and communists, Llewellyn says.
"Every time an expansion of the public's right has been put forward, Republicans have called it extreme, communistic and socialistic. It's a repeated tactic because they can't defeat the idea."
Then the article goes on to have a Tea Party member explain why Obama is a socialist. This is really funny:
Those arguments don't sway Conrad Quagliaroli, a Tea Party member who says Obama is a socialist.
He says that Obama's voting record as a senator was more to the left than the U.S. Senate's sole socialist, Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
He says Obama's association with radicals and his pledge to "spread the wealth" seal his socialistic credentials.
"The role of government is to provide a safe environment to conduct business, not to take from one and give to the other," says Quagliaroli, a financial planner who lives in Woodstock, Georgia.
Quagliaroli was not persuaded by the arguments of other socialist leaders who reject the idea that Obama is a socialist.
"He's just not socialist enough for them."
Quagliaroli says he doesn't like socialism because it breeds mediocrity and encourages people to "live on the dole." Capitalism "breeds excellence" because it encourages initiative, he says.
They go on to ask Quagliaroli if he would refuse Social Security and he says he would not. Llewellyn reminds everyone as he did in his interview on Fox News that the most socialistic candidate in the 2008 presidential race was Sarah Palin.
Once more it is worth reflecting on this kind of nonsense. No other country I am aware of is as backward as this one about political science. No other country is as out of touch with its own history. Why? Why are we like this? Clearly our schools do not educate students. Clearly our news media feeds on misinformation and stupid behavior. What kind of country have we become? Any ideas?