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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Socialism: Not a Voting Issue

I've said it before, I'll say it again: We are all socialists. We are all redistributionists. We all believe in sharing the wealth.

If you still don't believe that, if you believe that you can't vote for anyone who espouses tax policies that it comforts you to call socialism, well, you can't use that belief to choose McCain-Palin over Obama-Biden. McCain and Palin both believe in taxing the rich and redistributing wealth, just like those other guys.

Hendrik Hertzberg highlights the sheer nuttiness of the McCain-Palin adoption of "Socialism!" as the last-gasp battle cry of the 2008 campaign by pointing to the words and deeds of McCain and Palin themselves:

During the 2000 campaign, on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” a young woman asked [McCain] why her father, a doctor, should be “penalized” by being “in a huge tax bracket.” McCain replied that “wealthy people can afford more” and that “the very wealthy, because they can afford tax lawyers and all kinds of loopholes, really don’t pay nearly as much as you think they do.” The exchange continued:

YOUNG WOMAN: Are we getting closer and closer to, like, socialism and stuff?. . .
MCCAIN: Here’s what I really believe: That when you reach a certain level of comfort, there’s nothing wrong with paying somewhat more.

And as for Palin...

Instead, it imposes huge levies on the oil companies that lease its oil fields. The proceeds finance the government’s activities and enable it to issue a four-figure annual check to every man, woman, and child in the state. One of the reasons Palin has been a popular governor is that she added an extra twelve hundred dollars to this year’s check, bringing the per-person total to $3,269. A few weeks before she was nominated for Vice-President, she told a visiting journalist—Philip Gourevitch, of this magazine—that “we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs” [emphasis mine; Hendrik Hertzberg, "Like, Socialism," The New Yorker, 2008.11.03].

As I've said before, a voting issue is "a fact, policy, or moral position (or a set of several such things) that distinguishes one candidate or position from another and thus can justify, singly or in concert with other issues, voting for one candidate or position over the other." Sharing the wealth is simply not a voting issue. At every turn—experience; guns; impressive oratory; palling around with bad dudes, whacky pastors, and folks who hate America; and now socialism—McCain and Palin have negated even the silliest arguments they could make against Obama and Biden by their own beliefs and policies. There is no honest reason left in the GOP rhetorical ammo bag to vote for McCain-Palin over Obama-Biden.


  1. So, I guess you don't mind redistributing wealth to the banks, hedge funds, the treasury or politicians. THAT would be socialism, right!
    Cause you redistribute wealth! And then it's for everyones good. Why don't we save a step and let those guys just keep their money?
    And if we're going to be Socialists. Why don't we just let Corporations do the work for us? They could grow so big, that they would have to hire more people to make more of what they make. AND they'd have to give them more money because other companies would need more workers, too!

    Otherwise, How would it work killing the 'Goose that lays the Golden Eggs' and giving away all her eggs?

    I guess McCain/Palin know that story. And that would be a good reason to vote for them.

    And why the McCain/Palin negative stories? Obama's gonna win. So, you're just wasting 'finger sweat'. Obama is winning, Right!

  2. So how is Obama going to pay for all of these programs that he wants to implement??? You will say by taxing the rich and corporations. Don't you think that those extra taxes that will be imposed on corportatons (ie oil) will be passed on down to the consumer, therefore taxing the poor and middle class even higher?

    Neither plan is perfect, but I care not to see $4+ oil again any time soon.

  3. CC, even if we assume Obama will win (and the polls haven't convinced me yet), there is still this silly, distracting, nonetheless harmful argument about socialism floating about, an argument that needs to be squashed. It's like when I'm teaching English: even if a majority of the kids understand Hamlet, it's important that all of them get it. If a faction of the class is missing the major themese of the play because they want to argue Shakespeare was Muslim and thus is a bad author, I feel obliged to keep working with them, because (A) they're wrong, (B) so what if he was Muslim, and (C) that's not the point of the play.

    Ditto this nuttiness about socialism. A certain core of wingnuts are determined to use this red herring to push their agenda. Even if Obama wins next week, some radicals appear determined to perpetuate the nuttiness. And as long as the country has nuts, the country needs a nutcracker. :-)

    By the way, PennyP: check out the article linked above; Hertzberg notes Obama will actually lower the overall tax burden on Americans. If that plan falls through, it will be because Obama has to adjust to correct the excesses of the Bush Administration, which increased the national debt 80%, maybe more. And you know, even though Obama's plan will lower my taxes, I'm ready to ask for a tax hike to pay off all the debts we are responsible for instead of passing them on to our kids. Care to join me?

  4. Obama's own words brand him as a socialist. From those who have to those who have not, spread the wealth, whatever. He finally said it.

    And he is not truthful about his past associations, about not hearing Wright's hate-filled speeches (he claimed he was in Wright's church for 20 years at least twice a month in an interview; either he slept thru the sermons or lied, take your pick), or about his tax policies when he says he will lower 95% of taxpayers' taxes (actually a rebate to the 40% who pay no income taxes), and his definition of wealthy keeps changing too.

    You can like him, vote for him, support him. That is your right. It's my right not to. Obama is what he is. And people are finally beginning to see thru the rhetoric, thank goodness!

  5. I'm looking forward to Obama going on and doing great things as President.

  6. And McCain's own words and Palin's own policies brand them as socialists, too. Making rich people pay more, collectively owning resources... amazing the blindness of some Anonymi to the socialists in their republican midst, all for the sake of defending a crumbling worldview. Sad, really.

  7. "I'm ready to ask for a tax hike to pay off all the debts we are responsible for instead of passing them on to our kids. Care to join me?"

    Maybe -- but only if we really do pay off the debts, enact a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and don't use the increased revenue as an excuse to go on a pork binge.

  8. That's exactly what I'm talking about, Stan. Remember: I'm still a fiscal conservative at heart. But we need to pay down that debt before our kids are stuck with it. That means serious fiscal discipline, and no more treats for us (and Wall Street).

  9. So, Cory, we should have higher taxes to pay off the bailout debt. Then why in the world are you supporting Obama who is pledging to add more trillions to the national debt?


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