I’ve had a couple of sleepless nights recently ever since John McCain and Sarah Palin claimed that Barack Obama was a socialist. As they see it, anyone who views ensuring that the middle class finally gets a tax break like the rich, views health care as a right not a priviledge and supports reasonable regulation of our market system is in league with Karl Marx and all those generous welfare states in Europe.
I like to think of myself as a red-blooded, patriotic American who believes in our most precious democratic values and personal freedoms. But could I possibly be one of those Scandanavian lefties who use government revenue to give all citizens access to a doctor, to higher education, to decent housing and to a secure retirement? Am I so taken by Barack Obama that I ignore the fact that he will likely destroy America by proposing such a radical idea as helping the vast middle class live a better and more prosperous life?
I guess this night time tossing and turning was just a McCain-driven nightmare. Fighting to change the economic focus of this country from benefiting the wealthy to helping the middle class is not class warfare or Marxism or European socialism, rather it is wholly American in the tradition of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, John Kennedy’s War on Poverty and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. What Barack Obama is proposing is simply changing the rules of the capitalist game, not embracing some foreign ideology.
Capitalism is not the word of God that can’t be challenged; it is an economic system that occasionally needs refinement and reform, especially if it fails to generate wealth across the board or fosters an economic and financial situation that endangers the national interest and even national security. All this babble about the dire consequences of ” spreading the wealth”, “taxing small businesses” and “putting wealth generation in the hands of the government” is simply an old trick to make people think that giving the rich, the special interests and the corporations huge benefits benefits everyone. Well the last eight years of flatline personal income for most Americans has shown that trick for what it is- the big lie.
Most Americans see through this charade and know this nation is not going to become a worker’s paradise in the Soviet tradition or even a social welfare state like Denmark. What they do understand is that the current practices of capitalism need to change so that the market system brings prosperity and security not just to the 1% at the top but to all us. I think I’ll sleep better tonight.