Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Is Obama a Socialist?

A survey suggests many Americans, including critics of President Obama, do not know the difference between capitalism and socialism.

According to a May 22, 2009 Business Week article entitled "Socialism? Hardly, Say Socialists,":

"Some conservative commentators have even likened Obama's economic stimulus and regulatory initiatives to a Soviet-style takeover of the country. In February, syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh accused Obama of waging war on capitalism. "That's his objective. He wants to destroy capitalism," Limbaugh told a caller. "He wants to establish a very powerful socialist government, authoritarian. He wants control of the economy."

But real Socialists would vigorously disagree. They say if the Obama Administration were establishing a true socialist state, we'd have at least a $15-an-hour minimum wage (instead of the current $6.55 federal minimum) and 30-hour workweeks. Every American would be guaranteed employment and health-care coverage. Oh, and homeless people would be occupying vacant office buildings in cities and vacant McMansions in the suburbs.

In fact, many Americans appear to be confused about what socialism actually is. In a poll of 1,000 adults conducted Apr. 6-7, Rasmussen Reports found that 53% of Americans said they prefer capitalism to socialism, while 20% said they prefer socialism. More than one-quarter, 27%, said they're not sure which system is better. Another poll conducted this month by ConservativeHQ.com found that 70% of self-identified conservatives consider Obama's political philosophy "Socialist" or "Marxist," with 11% calling it "Communist."

Socialists say the policies Obama has pursued are hallmarks of "democratic capitalist" states, not socialist ones. "None of the societies of Western Europe are socialist, but the political influence of their strong Labor, Social Democratic, and Socialist parties make their form of capitalism much more humane than our own," says Frank Llewellyn, national director of the New York-based Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the largest U.S. Socialist party."

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