Skip to comments.If Obama is a socialist, what was FDR?
Posted on 08/01/2009 9:22:48 PM PDT by TaxPayer2000
TAMPA - The accusations come fast and furious on Web sites and talk radio: President Barack Obama is a socialist, a communist.
Is he? Is his health care proposal socialist?
"Yes. Next question," said Michael Steele, chairman of the national Republican Party, speaking to reporters in Washington on Monday.
"He has surrounded himself with people that have been for the redistribution of wealth. That's part of the communist mindset," said Ted Webb, a rightist Tampa radio commentator.
"'Communist' is not the correct word, and 'socialist' is debatable - the correct word is 'Marxist,'" said Rick Klepal, a Tampa commercial investment manager with an interest in politics.
If Obama is a socialist, there may be a lot of other political leaders in U.S. history who were, too, according to academics who study American history and politics.
The foremost candidate probably would be Franklin D. Roosevelt, several said.
Maybe Lyndon Johnson. John Kennedy? Thomas Jefferson? Bob Dole?
"The problem from the get-go is there are academic notions of what socialism is and there are political notions, which vary with the political culture," said Scott Paine, a Democrat and a political scientist at the University of Tampa.
The accusation of socialism, communism or generally destroying the American way of life tends to pop up whenever political leaders advocate ground-breaking legislation or government initiatives, said Richard Conley of the University of Florida.
"The American system is calibrated toward incremental change, not large-scale change," said Conley, a Republican who specializes in studying the presidency and says he's "on the conservative side of the spectrum and no big fan of Obama."
In modern history, no president has been so excoriated as a socialist, communist and traitor to the American system than Roosevelt. His New Deal introduced half a dozen new types of government regulation and income redistribution.
In the 1930s, "the idea that the federal government would become involved not only in the economy but in social affairs was just unthinkable to many," Conley said. "It didn't represent what the U.S. was like until that point."
Today, some of those programs are among the nation's most widely accepted and popular - Social Security, mandatory bank-deposit insurance and regulation of securities sales.
But at the time, "the critics went berserk," said John Belohlavek, a political historian at the University of South Florida and a Democrat.
"They called him 'Red Roosevelt.' They said, 'This is communist Russia, the government taking over.'"
Father Charles Coughlin, a popular radio evangelist of the time with a populist, anti-Semitic philosophy, began as a Roosevelt backer but turned bitterly against him.
Coughlin, who combined the religious and political influence of Billy Graham and Rush Limbaugh, called Roosevelt "a Communist in the chair once occupied by Washington" and "anti-God," and said the New Deal was mired "in the Red mud of Soviet communism."
Republican opposition to Social Security didn't completely fade until the 1960s, Belohlavek said.
Other programs that drew fire against Roosevelt - welfare and agricultural subsidies, for example - have remained controversial but are not viewed as "socialism."
Roosevelt's Agricultural Adjustment Act, the beginning of farm subsidies, inspired some of the sharpest criticism. But conservative Republicans from wheat and corn states, including former senator and presidential contender Bob Dole of Kansas, fight for the subsidies.
Dole was also one of the main architects of the 1983 Social Security rescue plan, which dramatically increased taxes to save the income redistribution program.
When then-President Lyndon Johnson proposed a Medicare program, it drew the same criticisms as Obama's plan, Belohlavek said.
"It was called 'outrageous,' 'socialized medicine' - senior citizens would be mistreated and maltreated and wouldn't be able to choose their doctors. It was incredibly controversial."
Today, "not that it isn't flawed, but I can't imagine anybody arguing that we should give it up," Belohlavek said.
FDR's New Deal was just as much an experiment as critics say Obama's plan is, Conley said.
"In hindsight, we stopped the run on banks, got seniors Social Security so they didn't become paupers," he said. "But from the vantage point of the 1930s, the outcome was anything but certain."
Conley said a proposal for national regulation of health care takes government activism into a more intimate and controversial arena.
"It's one thing to regulate the fat cats on Wall Street, but very different to start talking about regulating decisions you make with your family, your spiritual adviser or your doctor," he said.
"That's part of the president's problem right now."
U.S. political culture
Debating whether Obama - or Roosevelt or Johnson - is a socialist is meaningless, Paine said.
"It's not about the definition of the word; it's about the connotation of the word in our political culture," he said.
In general, "socialism" means controlling production and distribution of goods and services to make the benefits less dependent on ability to pay for them, Paine said.
Depending on how you interpret that, a public school system, a graduated income tax, or even Tampa police service could be "socialist," he said.
Public schools - begun by the "common school" movement of the 18th century and led by Jefferson before the term "socialism" was coined - are available at no charge and paid for by property taxes based on the value of an individual's assets. Sso is police protection.
Income tax takes a greater percentage from the rich than the poor.
"Any system that provides services to people who can't pay, or who pay less than it costs, and the subsidy comes from people who can afford to pay more, could be considered socialist," Paine said.
But most of those who criticize Obama's plan aren't thinking about that academic definition. "A socialist is someone that believes that the state should tell you how to live, what kind of insurance you should have, what kind of car you should drive," Webb said.
Klepal said socialism is "when the government seeks to control the economy by controlling methods of production."
He said health care differs from other government programs that redistribute money or regulate economic activity.
"It's life and death. ... I don't want to have the federal government in that process."
But if socialism means placing the good of society ahead of the good of the individual, there could be few better formulations than Kennedy's:
"Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."
FDR was a Socialist who loved his country.
At least he wasn’t an overt racist.
Just a comment on one statement. Bob Dole did work to rescue Soc Sec. But when he did it was not seen anything like an income redistribution program. In 83 there was genuine concern that those who had contributed oer their years would not receive the benefits they’d been expecting. They were expecting repayment in line with their prior cotributions. That’s not income redistribution AFDC was income redistribution.Obamacare will be a serious form of redistribution. But as conceived SSS was not, and that is what Dole and others tried to save.
FDR loved Uncle Joe Stalin. He was a commie.
"Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."
What a lying note to end on. The majority of people who want socialist healthcare aren't looking at it as an opportunity "to do for their country". They see it as an opportunity for their country to do something for them, namely pay their doctor bills.
Also, the writer's characterization of Father Caughlin is tendentious and false. He should read Jonah Goldberg's book so that he can get his facts straight.
A socialist, and apparently an inspiration for future socialists.
FDR loved his drugs, period. He was in far too deep a stupor to be aware of his consequences.
Socialism is the means to the communist end.
It’s humans as stock farm animals. And communists are not above taking them to slaughter.
Whenever one human is FORCED to fund any part of another’s existence or the existence of the government IT IS SLAVERY!
The universe doesn’t recognize the subtleties—you are free, or you are not. Unless you want to split hairs in regard to the acceptability of ‘shades of slavery’ or the ‘degrees of slavery’ like someone with some kind of sick fetish.
NO MAN, NO GROUP OF MEN, IS FIT TO RULE ANOTHER!
It is a DEADLY game that will cause suffering and death yet AGAIN, just like it always has in history.
...A socialist and a statist.
From FDR’s Second BIll of Rights Speech
“It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our peoplewhether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenthis ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.
This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rightsamong them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
As our nation has grown in size and stature, howeveras our industrial economy expandedthese political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not free men. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for allregardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
Americas own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.”
“FDR was a Socialist who loved his country.”
That’s a damn lie!!!!
The difference? FDR was a Socialist who loved his country.
***Good one. Bump that.
Obama is a National Socialist
www.freerepublic.com ^ | October 27, 2008 | Kevmo ...
FDR was a Socialist who loved his country.
Agree but he had all the other flaws Obama has.
Wasn't FDR's wife a lesbian and didn't FDR run around on his wife? Give Obama time ... he'll be like that too.
But did the US go to war on 1941 to defend the USSR from the Nazis and the Japs? I think so.
Did the US nuclear bomb the Japs to prevent them from rivaling the Soviets in future? Yes.
Did the USA occupy Japan and Germay to protect the Soviets? Yes.
Did the US stall their advance on the Western Front to let the Soviets gain control of Western Europe? Yes.
We’ve had Jimmah, Lyndon, Clinton, and now the arch Manchurian Candidate, Obama. So sad. The USA, last great hope of Democracy falls to internal corruption and Commie insurrection.
Democracy is ending.
Now comes the Dictatorship of ????????
I don’t know what FDR was, but my father, who served during WW2, used to call him a commie bas%ard.
You can’t judge Socialism by what it says to you. While it says “the good of society” its real goal is total control of “the Masses”.
It’s the old thing of the front of the package in the grocery store proclaiming miracles in color and dazzling visual effects, while the ingredient list on the back reveals the same old emasculated white flour and hydrogenated (carcinogenic) fat.