Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Socialist Fear Mongering

I wrote this late last night, while Congressional leaders were busy hammering out a deal between the House and Senate version of the stimulus package. Today, it has been announced that a deal has been made, with President Obama stating that he hopes to sign it by Monday.

I think it's still relevant to say what I had written last night. The sentiments I had laid out still remain -- I still feel for those affected by the recent recession, still hope that this bill will help people like Mrs. Hughes, and still resent being labeled a socialist simply because I support programs and services that help people.

Henrietta Hughes is not a misnomer. An unemployed secretary and recently homeless, she and her family represent those Americans who have been hit hardest by this recession. It’s difficult to keep your eyes dry when, at a town hall meeting held by President Obama in Florida this week, she pleads with him to somehow, someway help her.

I bring this up because it’s hard to imagine how anyone can condone such a system that has left Hughes and people like her in the dust. Yet, with nearly eight percent of the American workforce unemployed, conservative commentators insist that the stimulus plan proposed by Obama – and passed by both houses of Congress – is a mistake.

Scratch that: not only is it a mistake in their eyes, but they also insist on calling it socialism.

Such fear mongering is not needed at this time. Yes, it’s a substantial amount of money – over $800 billion to create jobs and give those in dire need a significant tax cut. But it is a plan, one that has both the support of Democrats and Republicans (specifically, moderate Republicans in the Senate as well as Republican governors across the country).

It’s the baseless fear mongering that bothers me the most. One example that comes to mind is Sean Hannity’s characterization of the plan as the “European Socialist Act of 2009.” It’s disgraceful that it’s come to that, to mocking the president’s proposal rather than debating it in a distinguished way.

A healthy debate is one thing, but such criticism only detracts from the crisis at hand in hopes of scaring the American public away from supporting the plan.

Many conservatives I know have told me in the past that nothing gets their blood boiling more than when someone compares former President George W. Bush to Hitler. For me, the comparison of liberalism to socialism does just about the same thing.

What conservatives who make that comparison don’t understand is that liberalism’s ultimate aim is to preserve capitalism. By providing services to people in need, and by providing reasonable subsides to companies that will create jobs contracted out by the government, liberals try to preserve capitalism by keeping it afloat with capital. Conversely, under a socialist model, these industries would be bought out by the government, nationalizing them rather than keeping them in the private sector’s hands.

Still not convinced? Consider this then: is it likely that a socialist “revolution” will occur under a liberal state that preserves capitalism for the most part while providing services to those in need? Or would such a scenario be more likely to happen under conditions where a deregulated economy has left millions unemployed, millions more on the brink of unemployment, and many with homes foreclosed? The answer should be obvious.

I’m not demanding that everyone fall in line and blindly agree with Obama’s plan; believing that such a thing could happen is foolish, for this plan involves a monumental amount of spending that not everyone can stomach. What I am asking for, however, is that the constant use of fear by those extremists on the right end. The American people are sick of it; it’s partially why you lost last November, why calling Obama a radical didn’t help elect John McCain to the presidency.

If you disagree fundamentally with the president’s plan, fine – explain why with meaningful dialogue and let’s move on. But don’t tell me this plan is something it isn’t in hopes of scaring me away from supporting it. Such tactics are without merit and pathetic.

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