Thursday, August 12, 2010

Go ahead, call Obama a Socialist

David Frum wants to make the case on why conservatives ought not to refer to Obama as a socialist. Though he seems to define socialism in much the same way as others using it, he doesn’t seem to know who its practitioners are. His fear seems to be of muddying the political waters when really it ought to be of clearing them. He claims conservatives are railing against the wrong thing, but his case is weak because it stands on a nonexistent comparison.

Full article after the jump »

Read the Frum Forum article »


Solomon Kleinsmith said...

There is a pretty big difference between social welfare programs and socialism. Overlap with socialism is certainly there, and certainly more than the overlap with the GOP, which is also there... even among the Tea Party... but socialism is a wide ranging economic system that includes government ownership of much of industry, not just bail outs, single payer type health care, not subsidized. Its just more accurate to say he's liberal.

tryanmax said...

I chose a poor title for this article. I wanted to point out that Frum’s argument against calling Obama a socialist doesn’t address whether or not the label is appropriate. Those who usually claim Obama to be a socialist tend to compare his autobiographies and speeches to his policies, looking for expressions of socialist philosophy. Those with a counter-claim tent to lean against textbook definitions (which Frum puts aside) and expound on how Obama hasn’t lived up to them so far. In a sense, the two sides are looking in opposite directions with their backs to one another.

However, in Frum’s case, he points out how Obama follows in the footsteps of others who were not called socialists. That’s only saying we’ve never called it that before, so we won’t start now. Now, I’m not saying that Bush or any other prior presidents were socialists. Yet Frum seems to be okay stating that socialist policies have been enacted all along the way by persons and parties that are not expressly socialist. This only makes the case that philosophical identifiers ought to come from without, rather than within.

I agree that social welfare programs alone are not socialism, at least not fully fledged. Truly, not all income redistribution is socialism. But when the comparison is between socialism and private markets, as is the case in Frum’s article, I have to put it squarely on the socialism side of the ledger.

I should have named this article “Go ahead, call Obama a Socialist if you want to” because Frum does not do a good job of dissuading it.

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