Socialism: Is That, Like, MySpace For Muslims Or Something?

by tristero

There are two problem with McCain's attempt to smear Obama as advocating socialism:

1. No one anymore knows what "socialism" is. Oh, sure, you and I know what socialism is, but the days when the right could point to the Soviet Union or some other giant example are history - hell China itself is moving towards turbo-capitalism. So normal people hear "sharing the wealth is bad" and it's like, huh? They don't think Stalin, they think that since we're sharing our wealth with these schmucks, maybe we, too, could use a piece of that. The argument misfires because it has no substantive object anymore. "Share the wealth," "redistribution of wealth," and "socialism" talk only to a rightwing base: it is an historical argument, stirring up fears about something that, except in Cuba and a couple other places, simply doesn't exist. And that neatly seques into:

2. Normals know Obama is no communist, excuse me, socialist, not by a long shot, The charge is totally off the wall, dishonest, really weird with a beard. Worse, it ratchets up hateful, fearful rhetoric to McCarthyite levels when the last thing this country needs is another completely vacuous distraction from the very real problems we simply must confront. So, to the youngsters amongst us who don't remember the Soviet Union:

Trust me, dear friends, Obama is no commie, not even close. I was behind the Iron Curtain and it bore not the slightest resemblance to anything any mainstream American politician would propose, let alone do.

Come to think of it, I need to make an exception to that.

When Ari Fleischer, Bush's first press sec'y, warned us all to watch what what we say, watch what we do, I was reminded of Czechoslovakia in the 80's, when, due to widespread wiretapping and spying, we really did have to watch what we said and did even in our hotel rooms or private houses.

Actually, now that I think more about it, I've heard and read a lot about other things this REPUBLICAN administration has done that reminded me of Soviet-style communism - the torture and murder of prisoners, the subversion of a free press with plants and misinformation, the obsession with ideological purity, the corruption of the justice system - I don't need to go on. But, just to make the point clear, here's a recent example that's all-but-flown under the radar because we're all focused on the election and the economy:
Attorney General Michael Mukasey recently issued new guidelines for the F.B.I. that permit agents to use a range of intrusive techniques to gather information on Americans — even when there is no clear basis for suspecting wrongdoing.

Under the new rules, agents may engage in lengthy physical surveillance, covertly infiltrate lawful groups, or conduct pretext interviews in which agents lie about their identities while questioning a subject’s neighbors, friends or work colleagues based merely on a generalized “threat.” The new rules also allow the bureau to use these techniques on people identified in part by their race or religion and without requiring even minimal evidence of criminal activity.

These changes are a chilling invitation for the government to spy on law-abiding Americans
Does all this make Bush and his rightwing acolytes Communists? No. Of course not. Just as Obama is no communist, excuse me, socialist. But if you want to talk about which politicians act more like totalitarian dictators, Republicans and their rightwing acolytes really fucking shouldn't be trying to go there.

So stop the baseless, distracting bullshit about "socialism" or, to quote St. John Himself, we just might take the gloves off.

UPDATE: Discussion of point 1 edited for (hopefully) more clarity.