Friday, October 17, 2008

The October surprise: Joe the Plummer? No, Joe the Anti-Socialist

There it is, where we least expect it, the October surprise.

Turns out it's Joe the Plummer, the Willie Horton of 2008. Specifically, it's one word that Joe introduced into our national kitchen table conversation: socialist.

Joe was a prominent McCain accomplice in Wednesday night's final debate, but now the use of that footage and anti-"socialist" sentiment is turning dangerous for progressives everywhere and possibly for the Obama-Biden campaign as well.

But only because so many of the American people are boobs. Bring up the word "socialist", and you'd think the nation was overrun with sociopaths.

Capitalism might be America's religion, but our government has for over a century been some version of democratic socialism, some versions (the Roosevelts' Teddy and Franklin, Kennedy's, Nixon's, Carter's) a bit more socialistic than others (Hoover's, Reagan's, the Bushes' George and George).

NASA is socialism. Head Start is socialism. The Interstate Highway System is socialism. The FDA and EPA are socialism. Every public building and public program and public park is socialism. Subsidies of any sort, whether for crops or cars, is socialism. It's not a scary thing. It is actually the basis of what we expect government to do: make useful, safe and beneficial for the citizens all the competing and disparate private interests in the nation (and around the world).

It's like communism coming from the word "community" and the verb "to commune", to come together. Socialism is social, a good thing: as in "for the greater good of all." Socialism is about protecting and providing for society at large. Socialism is better than anti-socialism, don't you think? But still, Americans have this childish neurosis about foreign/enemy-sounding words. Socialism is not to be confused with communism, much less totalitarianism. Most socialist societies are even more democratic than the United States, and we do love the idea of democracy, don't we, at least the idea of it? Democracy means coming together for the greater good, and the greater good is socialism's highest and greatest calling.

As in, "We the People..."


At 10/18/2008 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frames such as "big" government or "socialist" government are distractors. What we seek is efficient and attentive government. We do not need hollow government that does nothing, especially one that just squabbles as a guise for governance.


At 10/18/2008 4:08 PM, Blogger Lawrence said...

Good point, Gary. Unfortunately, so many cling to labels, looking to keep their tribe safe from other tribes. As for distractions, this campaign has, so far, NOT been amongst the worst, thanks to the steadfastness of Obama. Let's hope the Republicans don't get down in the gutter, a la Rove.


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