The term "socialist" has recently been cast as an aspersion on Obama during these later gyrations in the campaign process. It is said much like calling him a "bogeyman." I am not particularly surprised by the use of the term "socialist", but am somewhat fascinated that it can be a term that serves to strike fear in people.
I must assume that those who fear and loath the term "socialist" must somehow identify themselves with capitalists. In the United States these terms are generally used as antithetical to one another. That is a logical way to deal with the terms, but the emotional identification with capitalism I find surprising.
Most of the people at whom the term "socialist" is being cast for emotional impact don't actually practice capitalism to any real degree. Most are citizens who are working within the existing system to make a life for themselves. Many use resources (such as roads and electrical power) that are partially or wholly socialized without any real thought to the matter. Why, then, is the socialist a bogeyman in their eyes?
I am inclined to believe that capitalism and the prized liberties of Americans are closely linked in the American mythos. Since socialism is antithetical to capitalism it must also threaten liberty. It therefore is anti-American. Ergo, if Obama is a socialist he is anti-American. Hence, working class Americans who don't significantly practice capitalism still identify with capitalism as a root of the liberties they enjoy. They may thus be influenced away from supporting Obama because he is now perceived as a threat.
Obama has become a bogeyman.
While casting aspersions may be a viable campaign tool, it does nothing for clarifying for Americans the culture in which they live. Most social orders in our world practice varying degrees of socialism. It is practiced to some degree in this country. The degree will vary over time, as people and organizations respond to changes in the world.
The dynamics of a system that can adjust to changes in the environment are signs of health. The question is not whether Obama is a socialist. It is whether or not Obama's policies are the right dynamic for our system in the current changing environment.
I presently don't really care. I want change. I do not think the current dynamic is right for our continued survival in the changing environment. Obama represents change. For me he is a convenient force that can be applied to the system to change the system. Once the direction is changed we can adjust the course.
One term of Obama may be sufficient. Two may be too much.
To use a colorful expression often used by a wino I once knew, "I don't give a flying rat's ass" about the degree of capitalism or socialism applied to the system. I simply want a system in which I can live with reasonable freedom and security. For me that would be weighted toward optimal freedom. Security need only be the power to keep what is mine and do with it what I choose.
I don't need people trying to frighten me with bogeymen. I need real information for making real choices.
Obviously campaign rhetoric is not a valid resource.
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