(Long Island, NY) It’s finally happened; the conversation I’ve longed to have in this rotten closing chapter in the most agonizingly long Presidential race I can remember. I was sitting in a bar trying to think about anything except this bloody election when a heated conversation between bartender and patron caught my ear. The guy at the bar was complaining about Obama with the usual litany of complaints. “Obama’s inexperienced! He doesn’t have anything on John McCain when it comes to foreign policy. Besides which, he’s a…SOCIALIST!”
I’ve heard the complaints about socialism all my life. I’ve heard that it’s a cancer eating away at the fabric of any nation that tolerates it, it’s bad,it’s wrong, it’s the root of all evil. In fact, I think it very well could be Lewis Black’s “Root of All Evil”, but for those who haven’t seen that show on Comedy Central, I’ll let that one drop for now. Suffice it to say I was annoyed at the bartender and his chatty chum. They were both in agreement that Obama was bad for America because he promotes socialism. I saw my opening and for once decided to take advantage of it.
“You guys say Obama is a socialist, did I hear that right?” They practically spoke together with one voice, nodding and grimacing with disapproval. “And you guys don’t like socialism, right?” They had angry faces, like I had accused them of burning the flag.
“Now I want to know something from you two guys, something that could change the way I vote in this election if you can make a good case. Right now I am squarely in the Obama camp, but if you can give me the simple answer I’m looking for, I might just change sides.”
I had these two guys in the palm of my hands. The trap had been set, the bait had been put out, now all I had to do was catch the prey. They leaned forward, hardly believing that an Obama supporter would actually consider switching sides. What could I want to know? They were all ears.
“Guys, just tell me. What exactly IS socialism?”
A full five seconds went by as they looked at each other and tried to think of exactly what they were so dead set against.
“And why do you hate it so much?”
They just couldn’t do it. They couldn’t explain what their major gripe against socialism was, or what it is really all about. They tried valiantly. “Well, national healthcare, isn’t THAT socialist? What about welfare? And…and…”
And what? According to Miriam-Webster, socialism is defined as thus:
“Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.”
Socialism is also defined by Miriam-Webster as “A system of society or group living in which there is no private property” or “A system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state” or “A stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.”
Folks, NONE of these definitions fits what Obama says he wants to do. In fact, the 700 billion dollar bailout of the banks is as close as it gets to socialism in this country (which isn’t quite making the grade either, but you see my point) and THAT was signed into law by one George W. Bush.
I don’t care whether you are FOR or AGAINST socialism. The FIRST thing you should do is to understand what exactly socialism IS. Me personally, I LIKE having private property, so that makes me an anti-socialist in that respect. Do I like the idea of national healthcare or welfare? Well, let me explain my position.
In my view, any government which considers itself able to tax, confine, arrest, or put to death any of its citizens has an equal duty to protect them and care for their personal well being. That includes national health care. If our government presumes to execute people or send them off to war (and never mind whether they are volunteers or not) then that body has an equal responsibility heading in the opposite direction. END OF STORY.
That does not mean we should surrender our homes and property and become a bunch of dirty hippies. But it does mean that if we pay taxes and must be subject to IRS codes, speed limits, and stupid drug laws we should also be assured of quality healthcare and a roof over our heads one way or another. Otherwise what we have is a one-way agreement. Serfdom. The bloody Dark Ages all over again. I don’t want to live in the Dark Ages, do you?
Socialism is just another scare word used in a contentious election to try and prod people into voting in a state of fear. I for one won’t be goaded. Take your socialist accusations and stuff them into your nose.
Me, I plan on voting with a full command of the facts as best I can scrape them together. These people who are easily swayed by knee-jerk accusations ought to pull themselves together, quit living in bed-wetting fear and make an INFORMED CHOICE. If that’s socialist, you can sign me up and take away my property, I’ll become a hippie now.