The Democratic Socialist Republic of America
There is no monopoly of common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology... – Sting
January 26, 2009
By Rob Lafferty
After weeks of pre-inaugural buildup and post-inaguaral anaysis I've had my fill of the Obama-worshipping crowd. They've gotten almost as obnoxious as Bush-worshippers around the time of that infamous "Mission Accomplished" bit of political theatre. That kind of blind faith in a Leader has become an American tradition but it's a dangerous habit; like any other drug, false worship has heavy consequences over time.
I voted for Obama and I hope he can deliver on his promise to implement bipartisan solutions, but it's probably best to remember that he's a politician in a country where most people still believe that "Us vs Them" is a viable political philosophy. In the halls of Congress the divide between Democrat and Republican still exists; the language hasn't changed and the posturing continues. If Obama can change that mentality, government might accomplish some good things – but recent history and the pathetic state of our national political discourse will be working against him.
Already warnings of creeping socialism are coming from friends and neighbors who claim to be Republicans and conservatives. Most of these folks are true believers who hold to their faith in a free-market economic system that has done little for them. Some still have McCain/Palin signs hanging on their fences fronting the highway, now sad and faded symbols of an old legacy that lives on past its time.
"You watch what happens," they say in ominous tones of foreboding. "Obama will take us further down the path of socialism than any president before."
As they speak, they can somehow ignore the fact that our recent Republican president sponsored a plan that borrowed 350 billion dollars and gave it all to banks across the country with no strings attached. The hope that it would somehow benefit taxpayers proved false; now the next generation will pay for that bit of socialistic behavior.
I'm amazed at how those who cry out against socialism don't seem to remember that Republican administrations during 20 of the last 28 years helped build an economy without a foundation. They somehow manage to ignore the breakdown of the investment banking system under a Republican president's watch. History means little to these people; they continue to repeat neo-conservative slogans and positions despite the evident failure of those policies.
We've had social policies in place in America for many years that provide benefits to the people as a whole. Every country throughout history that collected taxes from its citizens and provided services in return has practiced socialism to some degree. There wasn't much of that in the nation's early years, but every passing decade has seen an increase in government size and the number of services it provides.
The idea that social programs funded by taxes are inherently bad has little to do with political philosophy than with practical experience. The American style of socialism has usually been more wasteful than helpful when applied to helping people in need, so it's not surprising that folks have little faith in government as the answer to a problem. It's worked all too well for the wealthy, however, in the form of tax breaks, government purchasing and now bailouts, while social problems and the economy are worse than they were eight years ago.
The answer to our current troubles lies not in the actions of President Obama and the usual suspects in Congress; the answer lies in our citizens understanding our national history over the past sixty years. Every wrong turn we ever made is mapped out right there, easily seen when you drop the blinders of political dogma and take a fresh look. Try it sometime...