On Obama and Socialism

Apparently there’s quite the internet buzz going on about this 2001 audiotape (transcript below) from Obama:

“If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order as long as I could pay for it, I’d be o.k. But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.”

tl;dr: Obama is a socialist?

Wikipedia: Socialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and the creation of an egalitarian society.

(egalitarian: a political doctrine that holds that all people should be treated as equals and have the same political, economic, social, and civil rights.)
[we’re already 3/4ths the way there, and it’s pretty nice isn’t it? But I digress…)

I hate politics, so many people are saying ‘Obama this,’ ‘McCain that’ these days that I almost just don’t want to get involved. This is ridiculous though. Now, what Obama said in the 2001 interview actually reflects the goal of his current tax plan quite well in my opinion, but some redistribution of wealth is not equal to socialism. If Obama is elected, I’m almost positive no one reading this will even have to pay any extra taxes while he is in office. If by some wonder some person making more than $250,000 (or is it $200,000, I don’t know, whatever) is reading this, you will still have your own money to “make you happy” (ugh) and I guarantee that you absolutely will not die by helping out the less fortunate a little more. If anything, feel better about yourself.

If you’re not a proponent of welfare (or, insert any other form of redistribution of wealth), so be it. But please humor me: Even if 99 out of 100 people abuse welfare, could you be happy if one legitimate American was able to “make it” because of your marginal donation? That’s a terrible success rate if you do the numbers, but numbers really shouldn’t apply when we’re talking about human lives. What if, in an ideal world, you could meet that one legitimate person? Would you not feel a surge of pride? Would you not do it again?  Don’t kid yourself.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking closed-mindedly, thinking that welfare equates only to homeless people stealing your money. Be a little more selfless, a little more creative, have an abstract thought or two, and be okay with the fact that the good you do doesn’t necessarily always come and pat you on the back afterward.

It’ll be good for you.

Socialist government has never really worked, the US is not going to become China (socialist market economy) anytime soon, that’s laughable. Obama is not a socialist, he has very clearly (as far as politicians go) laid out what he wants to do with this country in the debates, at no time did he ever say he wants to remove from America the idea of personal wealth and have it completely redistributed.   Completely redistributed so that everyone in the United States of America has the same “…economic…rights.” That’s a ridiculous exaggeration, wonder what’s next…

Related video on moral differences between liberals and conservatives (learn to think outside the box a bit): http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html

comments welcome. discussion’s good.


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