You hear it every day on right-wing talk radio, Fox news, and even by Conservative politicians, who repeatedly say that we are headed down a path toward “Socialism”, or President Obama is a Socialist, and favors Socialist policies. Republican Presidential candidates are also chiming in. Mitt Romney accused President Obama of adopting policies based on what he called, “European style Socialism”, and Newt Gingrich claimed that the Obama administration is a “Secular Socialist machine.”
As pointed out by Peter Dreier, Distinguished professor of politics at Occidental College, there hasn’t been a significant socialist movement in this country for decades. However, “After Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, the word “socialism” started making a comeback. But it wasn’t because the socialists were gaining momentum. It was because Obama’s opponents — the Republican Party, the Tea Party, the right-wing blogosphere, the Chamber of Commerce, and conservative media gurus like Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh — labeled anything Obama proposed, including his modest health care reform proposal, as “socialism.”
The “Socialism” frame is one based on fear. The modern day George Orwell Party (GOP) is trying to convince the American people that a distribution of wealth that disproportionately benefits the super-wealthy elite, (those in the top 0.01%) at the expense of everyone else is fine, but anything that remotely resembles a benefit to average working families is condemned as supporting the ‘S’ word.
The use of the word “Socialism” in reference to President Obama is intended to evoke the image of a totalitarian dictatorship, where the rights and freedoms of the people are not protected.
This is the image that the radical right wing wants people to associate with our current President. However, as illustrated in a recent article by Peter Dreier, this strategy may backfire!
In reference to the Pew Research poll released in December 2011, it was determined that the majority of Americans (77%) agreed that “there is too much power in the hands of a few rich people and corporations.” In addition 83% of 18-29 year olds shared this view.
Joseph Schwartz, a Temple University political scientist made it clear that “Many young people associate capitalism with inequality, big corporations, and poverty,” and “If young people have any image of socialism at all, it is probably northern Europe, particularly Scandinavia. They know that northern Europe has less poverty, more equality, and more social mobility.”
For a realistic picture of what life is actually like in countries that adopt “European style socialism”, take a look at David Cay Johnston’s recent interview describing how it pays to be a bus driver in Sweden.
This is made possible, as David Cay Johnston points out in this clip because:
“They organize their economy to provide what Adam Smith said in the wealth of nations an economy should do. Any policy that benefits the majority must be good policy.”
“We organize our economy on the theory that the very, very richest among us, the multi-billionaires don’t have enough, and unless we give them more our economy cannot grow. That’s just nonsense!” Hence, the reason we are being “framed” to believe socialism is bad, and capitalism is good.