So what if he is?
I find it weird and disturbing that the Republicans have been making this big fuss about Obama being a socialist, when he's done and said nothing that I've heard that says he has any socialist inclination at all. Apparently it's just slinging mud and hoping it sticks, but even then, it seems odd because even Republicans are very fond of our most socialist program – Social Security. Then I look at the success of socialized things like the medicine they have in places like France, Germany, and Sweden, which is far more effective, efficient, cost effective, and popular than our private system. It's like McCain and Palin are yelling, "Holy cow! Obama's gonna go and enact programs and policies that are going to work really well! They'll be effective, efficient, and make life better for everybody except the super rich, who don't need anything more anyway! We've got to stop them! Hey, all you working class idiots – don't vote for your own best interests – vote for ours!"
I use the term "idiots" here because it seems to me they're treating us like that.
In addition, though, it's totally hypocritical. Palin is the most socialist candidate of the four. From the New Yorker:
~The proceeds [of oil field leasing] finance the [Alaskan] government's activities and enable it to issue a four-figure annual check to every man, woman, and child in the state. One of the reasons Palin has been a popular governor is that she added an extra twelve hundred dollars to this year's check, bringing the per-person total to $3,269. A few weeks before she was nominated for Vice-President, she told a visiting journalist—Philip Gourevitch, of this magazine—that "we're set up, unlike other states in the union, where it's collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs."~
In other words, Alaska owns the means of production collectively, which is, by definition, socialist. (This demonstrates that there are as many forms of socialism as there are of democracy, or tyranny.) And the state uses that power to distribute wealth evenly across the board, or, as Ms. Palin puts it, to "share in the wealth."
They accuse Barack of "spreading the wealth." I'm not sure what's wrong with that, but I'm even less sure how different that is from their own practice of sharing the wealth.
And that is why I find the terms of this attack puzzling and disturbing. Frankly, I think Obama would do well to go further out on a socialist limb. This nation is in no danger of becoming socialist in the foreseeable future. The GOP has been far too successful in demonizing socialism and linking it to communism, which is not the same thing. But there is no doubt in my mind that government can be more effective and efficient at providing certain services than the private sector is able to, at least when the government agency is accountable and transparent, as it should be. Social Security is a good example. Health insurance is another. Mass transit. We've socialized most roads and highways, and that seems to work pretty well – we should socialize the rails, as well.
This whole "debate" about different ideologies, as if we have to be perfectly "free market" or capitalist, or else we'll be completely socialist in a communist model, is destructive and foolish. We don't have to be all one or the other. I'd really like to see a shift to discussing how to create something that works really well – and I don't care if we call it socialism, capitalism or what, but I think we'd be best off to not call it anything. Then maybe we won't get attached to the ideology.