Editors Note: Years back, a famous photograph made the rounds on Facebook, in which some Tea Party genius was holding up a sign that read, “Keep Government Out of My Medicare.” If you need to have an explanation for why that’s one damn stupid concept to put on a sign, then you’re hopelessly unintelligent, and you should move on over to Sean Hannity’s website and not bother reading the article below.

We’re All a Bunch of Socialists

Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) is a communist. I learned this from a right-winger so extreme he can’t tell communists from socialists. Conservatives have now moved so far to the right that they label moderates as “socialists” and liberals as “communists.”

Sanders doesn’t hide the fact he’s a socialist and a liberal. He’s a relic of a bygone era before the Right turned “socialist” and “liberal” into pejoratives akin to “terrorist” or “pedophile.” I once told a sensible conservative that I prefer socialists to fascists. His response — “How can you tell the difference?” — sounded clever, but it’s essentially partisan nonsense that showed a disturbing lack of political discernment.

Socialism mainly involves economics; fascism combines politics and economics with authoritarianism, so it’s a bit of an “apples and oranges” comparison. Nevertheless, the answer is simple: The leaders of Scandinavian countries, such as Norway and Denmark, nations whose citizens constantly top the U.N.’s World Happiness Index, are socialists. Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin and President Trump are, to varying degrees, fascists.  

In a linear (i.e., one-dimensional) model of the political spectrum, fascists are on the far right, and communists are on the extreme left, as far from each other as they can be. However, that’s misleading. The continuum should more accurately be portrayed as circular, with the extreme ends nearly touching each other, like a snake chasing its tail.  

Consider Stalin and Hitler. In the linear model, Stalin would be closer to a centrist Republican, such as President Eisenhower, than he’d be to Hitler. Similarly, Hitler would be closer to Eisenhower than to Stalin. Realistically, both conclusions are misleading and silly, because any disparities between the Soviet tyrant and the Fuhrer were largely distinctions without a difference.  

Outside the ranks of deplorables and radical leftists, most of us are mildly right-of-center or left-of-center moderates. However, although many of us won’t admit it, average Americans have been socialists since FDR. At one of his recent campaign rallies, Mr. Trump accused Democrats of planning to “raid Medicare to pay for socialism.” Even among The Donald’s plethora of meaningless and fatuous assertions, this one is more dishonest and brain-dead than usual. Medicare is socialism.  

Especially within the Baby Boomer demographic, few Americans are eager to relinquish their Medicare or the Social Security benefits they’ve paid into for most of their lives. Anyone who’s ever been laid off is grateful for the socialist unemployment compensation checks that helped them through the hard times. And, of course, every time we drive on the interstate highway system, we avail ourselves of infrastructure built during the 1950s by the socialist Eisenhower administration.

Before Trump handed over the EPA to the big oil companies, we’ve been funding a bureaucracy that gave us cleaner air and water via socialist environmental regulations. And, for the moment, millions of poor Americans still have medical insurance because of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), while FDA regulations continue to ensure that the food and drugs we swallow won’t kill us.  

In a major campaign finance case, SCOTUS’s 2010 ruling in favor of the right-wing Citizens United group cemented the socialist marriage of big business and government. The Court’s determination that corporations are people helps big business buy politicians and legitimizes a corporate social safety net similar to that once enacted for the poor. This aligns with conservatives’ endless desire to channel wealth upward, while pretending some of it might one day trickle back down, which is also a form of socialism.

For example, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 cost the taxpayers $700 billion. It bailed out banks that would have simply failed in a purely capitalist economy, but were “too big to fail” in our system. Later that year, President Bush gave Chrysler and GM financing of $13.4 billion to save the auto industry. In 2018, Donald Trump has appropriated $12 billion to bail out Midwestern farmers hurt by his tariffs and by his trade war against China. Suburban taxpayers in places like Connecticut will foot the bill.

However, our biggest socialist public works program remains the military-industrial complex. Barely abated by our victory in the Cold War, the country remains on a war footing, as the U.S. garrisons much of the world. Our economy — as well as our exploding annual deficit (more than $1 trillion this year) — depends on a jobs program created by a bloated network of domestic and overseas bases, our huge standing army and the associated military hardware.

During the late 1970s, my job included reading congressional testimony involving defense procurement. Much of the time, it wasn’t the Pentagon demanding wasteful spending, it was the politicians, such as Senator John Tower (R.-TX), chairman of the Armed Services Committee. For example, each year, he bullied the Navy and Air Force into taking delivery of the A-7 attack aircraft, which they didn’t want, because it provided Dallas-based Vought Corp. with 2,250 jobs and millions of pork-barrel dollars.

The high-tech defense contractor I worked for during the Reagan years was involved in the Strategic Defense Initiative (aka Star Wars). The scientists I talked to loved their work, because their budgets were unlimited, but, when asked if it would ever work, they’d laugh and say, “No … it’s like trying to shoot down a bullet with a bullet.” With the $13 billion Mr. Trump has proposed for another military bureaucracy, the U.S. Space Force (USSF), perhaps a Death Star can be built in a swing state.  

Conservatives still contend that the Constitution establishes the U.S. as a capitalist nation. It doesn’t, and we aren’t. Yet Republicans will use the specter of Democratic socialism to frighten the sheep in the 2018 and 2020 elections. And it will probably work.

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