January 21, 2010

Do Those Calling Obama a Socialist Have Any Idea What Socialism Means?

7aoog.jpgThis question has been on my mind ever since the birther and teabagger movements were co-opted by mainstream Republican politicians and popular far-right pundits. Perhaps some of the less educated across America (like this woman pictured here) genuinely have no idea what socialism means. I can accept that. However, I tend to think that many of those funneling money into the movement, using it to further their own political agenda, or simply to boost their ratings know full well that Obama's policies are not even remotely socialist. My hunch is that there is a much simpler explanation for why we continue to see accusations of socialism.

I suspect that what we are seeing here is that those pushing the socialist label know full well than much of their base has no idea what socialism means other than that it is "bad" or "un-American." We saw the same thing happen during the Cold War. Many Americans had no idea what Communists actually believed; it was enough simply to know that Communism was associated with "the enemy."

And if I am even somewhat close to being right about this, then it is a truly sad commentary on the state of education in the United States. Deprived of good education, which can help to inoculate people against propaganda and idiocy, more and more of us fall prey to those who seek only to manipulate us to enhance their own status.

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