- What were Obama's college grades?
- Did he publish anything while at Harvard Law?
- If not, how did he become the president of the Law Review?
- What we his duties and responsibilities as a community organizer?
- Did he complete them?
- In his first autobiography, Obama admitted to extensive drug abuse. When was the last time he used illegal recreational drugs?
- Obama studied under Professor Derrick Bell at Harvard. Bell's specialty is Critical Race Theory, which states that law in the US is a tool to perpetuate white privilege. Does Obama consider US law a tool of racist interests?
- To what degree did CPUSA member and officer Frank Marshall Davis influence Obama when he mentored him at the request of his grandfather?
- Former domestic terrorist Bill Ayers has claimed, in public, on several occasions, to have written Obama's first autobiography. Is he lying? If not, what is the extent of Obama's relationship with Ayers?
I am sure that the snark will flow, but I would like you to at least acknowledge that the candidate that you are supporting is probably the emptiest suit ever put in front of the American people.
"Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared."
~ Grover Norquist
We are all taught about the New Deal and FDR in high school history classes. He and his policies are rarely shown to be controversial in our times, but at the time the New Deal and Social Security were implemented, it was highly controversial.
Interestingly, both Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, were opposed to Roosevelt's policies and they were distant cousins of his, closer to him by blood than I am (Charles Ingalls had a mother or grandmother who was a Delano). If any posters here (probably the female posters and maybe Nova) were fans of LIWs books as a kid, there is a strong anti-government/self-sufficiency sentiment in some parts of the family's story. LHOTP is the book in which the family moves to Kansas, then is evicted at the end by the US Army. The schools were all run by the community, the churches provided relief when the grasshoppers ate all their crops in Minnesota, and your oldest kid worked at jobs to help pay for her blind sister to go to college. Although the books are set during the 1880s, for the most part, they were written in the 30s. The editions most of us know, with the Garth Williams' illustrations, were not the original versions, they came later. Farm Boy, Laura's story about her husband's childhood, has a very strong message about self-sufficiency. Bad kids in the school getting in the way of your kids learning? Loan the teacher your blacksnake whip. Evil man accuses a little boy of being a thief when he returns a lost wallet? Nearby businessman beats the man into giving the kid a monetary reward. Ask your dad for a nickel to buy a cup of lemonade at the 4th of July celebration? Listen to his lecture about the value of work and money, then get a silver dollar and buy a piglet to raise, instead.
Anyway, there were plenty of people during FDR's long presidency who accused him of being a socialist or a communist at the time.
Now, to the OP.
The problem with calling someone a socialist is twofold. First, someone can be advancing socialist ideas without actually knowing that they are doing so. This is a result of the constant drumbeat of socialist ideology in our culture. Many of the things that are mainstream on the left today were advanced by socialists, such as progressive taxation, government monopolies on education, government oversight of industry, government intervention in markets (especially labor), etc. It is only those who have actually read Marx, Engels, Lenin, Dewey, Rousseau and other leftist philosophers/economists who actually know the origins of these ideas. Thus, many Americans have espoused socialist ideas or advanced socialist goals without knowing that they were doing so. The second issue is that real socialists tend to deny that they are socialists. Most people understand that having the government control the means of their livelyhood is a bad idea, and oppose it, but if the ideas of socialists are advanced piecemeal, through stealth, then society is gradually acclimated to them, without realizing the intended endstate. This is especially true since the end of the Cold War, when people throughout the world realized that socialist ideology bred perpetual failure. Also, many of the worst examples of socialism were simply redefined as something else by socialists who wanted to distance themselves from failure. Thus, the National Socialist Workers Party of Germany (Nationalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeitpartei, or NDSAP) is almost never referred to by its full name by those who support socialist policies. In fact, it was Stalin who ordered the COMINTERN to refer to the Nazis as "Fascists" (after Mussolini's Fascisti, which was in turn derived from the Roman symbol of civil authority, the fasces), rather than socialists. But, fascism is an offshoot of socialism, by way of syndicalism. Syndicalism was an attempt to end class conflicts, as described by Marx, through the creation of class-wide syndicates, which would then collaborate under the control of the state. Rather than having the state own the means of production outright, the state mandates that employers and employees be locked into syndicates, which then collectively represent the nation's economic blocs and assist the state by executing its economic policies. As a result, the state controlled the means of production, but maintained enough distance to evade responsibility for failing firms or economies. Think of how GM was saddled with mandate after mandate, until it was close to collapse, and then all but taken over with vitriolic attacks on the executives and debt holders (rather than the unions and government regulators), and you get the idea of how this works in practice. The term "National Socialist" is also a confusing term to those who don't know about the split between those who sought to impose international socialism, and those who thought that it could be imposed within a single state at a time (i.e., the National Socialists). The conflict between national socialists and international socialists was one of those bitter internecine fights among like-minded people who agree with the big picture, but fight tooth and nail over the details.
So, now that that's out of the way, the original question:
TR was not a socialist, although he was a Progressive. His economic policies entailed greater federal control of the economy, but he did not seek the abolition of private property. However, compared to Wilson, he was practically F.A. Hayek.
Woodrow Wilson, OTOH, was a socialist, and said so. He called his economic program "Wartime Socialism" and sought to impose federal control over aspects of economic and personal conduct that no other president ever sought, using WWI as an excuse to impose it. His War Industries Board imposed wage and price controls, dictated economic policies and almost bankrupted the nation. The Depression of 1920 was the result, and it was Harding's reduction of federal spending and taxes that restored economic prosperity. Oh, and let's not forget that, although a Progressive and Socialist, Wilson was also a racist who segregated the federal civil service and the city of Washington DC, by executive order. Don't ever forget that Progressives were also enthusiastic racists and advocates of eugenics.
Truman was not a socialist, nor was Eisenhower. Both were believers in the power of government to fix things (especially understandable from Eisenhower, the career Soldier who had just used the power of government to fix the war in Europe), but neither was in favor of the tenets of socialism.
LBJ's Great Society certainly moved towards socialist goals, but it's doubtful that he would have considered himself a socialist. But, entitlements expanded dramatically under Johnson. Medicare was his creation, as were the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities (think welfare for artists and intellectuals), while his Immigration Act ended quotas based on national origin, which basically threw open the borders, and the Omnibus Housing Act put the feds into the business of building and managing low-income housing. To pay for these programs, LBJ raised taxes and imposed all manner of confiscatory policies. He did this, not because he wanted to punish the rich, but because he believed that government could alleviate poverty, and that the party that did so would own the votes of the poor into perpetuity. In that regard, he wasn't so much a socialist as a local ward boss, who was given the opportunity to use the same tricks and gimmicks at the national level.
Nixon, like LBJ, was more liberal in his domestic policies, and economically, was more of a Keynesian than a socialist. Nixon also instituted wage and price controls (failing to learn from Wilson's ghastly economic record), and presided over significant economic failures during his tenure.
Reagan was not a socialist. Not even close.
Thank you. This is the sort of very well thought out response I was hoping for--This is the kind of political debate I enjoy. I hate when "X person was evil because they were a Democrat/Republican." It degrades the whole system. I consider politics and being involved in the political system (even if just as a voter) is in it's own small way a public service, or perhaps better put, public duty. Not that voting should be mandatory or anything but I do think that those who never intend to vote shouldn't really speak on political matters.
I'd argue TR saw himself as a reformer. And I do believe given the time that many reforms were needed. It is not simply that he read "The Jungle", and immediately called for the FDA; He had an investigation performed to see if the novel's contents were in any way true and his investigation turned up that it was so; and if I recall correctly, he buried said report as it painted a very very negative picture of the food industry. He's a man who I believe loved America and our system but also realized the flaws as it were and felt he was doing what was right to fix them. He is an American hero for me. And I do believe something like the FDA should be the federal governments' business so long as it does not go overboard. Regulators should regulate, but also be regulated, basically.
Wilson I do not know enough of outside of knowing he was a racist and a possible Klan sympathizer, so with all due respect, I will read more on the subject and on him before making a judgement.
Agreed on Truman and Eisenhower. I consider them the closest thing to having an "average Joe" in office that we've had in modern times.
LBJ was no doubt a wheeler dealer and of course recognized the political benefits of his actions; He was probably the most politically savvy President we've ever had when it came to domestic issues. But I also believe given all I've read on him--three biographies and one Presidency assessment--that he created the "Great Society" because he genuinely believed we could end poverty, because he genuinely wanted to help Americans. He was a very complex man who was both an incredible narcissist yet also incredibly sensitive and sentimental. I agree with many of his Great Society programs in principle but not in the way they were implemented. LBJ despised Socialists and if you ever read transcripts of the tapes, he was a GENUINE adherent to the Domino Theory and believed intervening in Vietnam was necessary to stop the spread of Communism. He had ex-Presidents like Ike and Truman advising him that his path was right, as well. Toward the end, LBJ felt that "the Socialists" were the ones hounding him from office and even went so far as to claim that most of the TV news networks were Socialist.
Nixon was yet another complicated man who many historians have said is probably the most enigmatic President we've ever had. I don't think Nixon had any devoted ideology but went with what he thought would work at the time. Basically the inverse of Clinton: Clinton governed as a moderate/rightist because the public wanted more conservative government at the time and was pushed by a Conservative congress to act in a conservative manner. In Nixon's case, Nixon was at heart a Conservative sort of man who, because of the liberal politics and Congress of his time, had his policies pushed in a liberal direction.
if the young, House Republicans are the ones filling that vessel, then I am ok with it.