Many people think that politics is too dirty and angry and name-call-y to get involved in. But I admit it, I sort of enjoy the fight. I like seeing the pieces of people’s brains that only come out when they care – I want them to admit to me the worldview that influences their voting and I want to discuss it.
Now this isn’t an excuse to get all stabby about it, but a little disagreement never hurt anybody. However, when we discuss something of value or importance, I think it’s important to be precise in our language.
“I use comparisons about Hitler to win arguments on the Internet!” – Confessions of Troy Barnes
For this reason, I’m glad we have brilliant people like Thomas Sowell who are willing to step into the fray with clarity, logic and honesty, calling out all sides for their inconsistencies and illogical, imprecise leaps of hyperbole.
Just because Newt Gingrich (and Sarah Palin and countless other conservative heroes) have called Barack Obama a socialist doesn’t make them right. Just because they get applause for it doesn’t mean that those of us duking it out on Facebook shouldn’t be more cautious with our language.
“It bothers me a little when conservatives call Barack Obama a “socialist.” He certainly is an enemy of the free market, and wants politicians and bureaucrats to make the fundamental decisions about the economy. But that does not mean that he wants government ownership of the means of production, which has long been a standard definition of socialism.
What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector.
Politically, it is heads-I-win when things go right, and tails-you-lose when things go wrong. This is far preferable, from Obama’s point of view, since it gives him a variety of scapegoats for all his failed policies, without having to use President Bush as a scapegoat all the time.
Government ownership of the means of production means that politicians also own the consequences of their policies, and have to face responsibility when those consequences are disastrous — something that Barack Obama avoids like the plague.
Thus the Obama administration can arbitrarily force insurance companies to cover the children of their customers until the children are 26 years old. Obviously, this creates favorable publicity for President Obama. But if this and other government edicts cause insurance premiums to rise, then that is something that can be blamed on the “greed” of the insurance companies.”
I like this argument. It creates a reasonable, precise place from which to start a debate – to agree that perhaps Obama is a statist, or even a corporatist, or maybe a variety of fascist – but not a socialist. And socialism is not even what I want to fight about – what I oppose is the idea that government can force its way into my personal decisions, my business decisions, my medical decisions, my family decisions. That somehow an elected (or unelected, as soon as one gets a position in government one is sponged of all human error) official is more thoughtful, generous, intelligent, well-meaning and business-savvy than anyone in the private sector.
I bet most people who’s hackles would raise if I called Obama a socialist might even agree with me on my core issue. Luckily, he’s not really a socialist, so my political fights from here on out are basically won.