Is Obama a Socialist?
by Tina Phillips
March 12, 2011
Previously published in The Pioneer
Some say our president is a socialist. However, President Obama is no socialist. Believe me; I would know, since I am one. No matter how much some may believe he is a socialist, his actions prove otherwise.
Take his recent budget proposal, for instance. He made suggestions to cut non-defense spending, mostly social programs such as higher education and heating assistance for those that need it during a cold winter. A socialist would actually do the opposite. A socialist would cut the defense budget and use the leftover money to fund social programs. By making that proposal, not only did Obama prove himself not to be a socialist, he went against his own Democratic Party agenda and promises he made to the American people.
Another promise President Obama made was to give the American people a “public option” for healthcare. A socialist would have fought for single-payer universal socialized healthcare—making the insurance companies obsolete, since healthcare should be for healing people, not making money off of people’s suffering. Obama did not even come through with the public option, let alone single-payer.
In addition, recently, President Obama gave into Republican demands to keep the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich intact for another year, even during one of the worst recessions ever. We could use that money in better ways, such as to fund education and programs that would help people get back to work. Instead, it goes into another rich man’s pocket. Socialists believe in redistribution of wealth and on a grand scale—we do not propose the rich pay three percent more—more like 50% more. We believe that we as a people should take care of each other and protect the social good—not dismantle it.
Some say Obama has shifted to the right in order to be moderate and work with the new Republican majority in Congress. How does it make any sense then to start all negotiations by giving in to right-wing tactics, such as austerity, right away? The Democrats fail miserably at just their basic level of principles and platform, let alone standing up for socialism. The ironic thing is what we need more than ever is socialism! Just do not count on Democrats to provide it.
There are alternative policies that the Democrats are choosing to ignore. The answer to reactionary policies is progressive policies. Right now most U.S. corporations and foreign corporations that do business in the U.S. avoid paying any income taxes although they are racking in record profits. These corporations are being given huge subsidies and benefiting from tax loopholes. The wealthy are being given tax breaks instead of paying their fair share. Billions of dollars has been spent on needless wars. Millions of dollars are spent on locking up non-violent people who are addicted to substances and the continued war on drugs that criminalizes people who need rehabilitation. If we want to look at where the revenue could come from, to fund a better life for all Americans, look no further than above.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate is still around 9 percent. That does not even count the underemployed or those who have given up looking for work because their prospects appear hopeless. People are losing their homes and becoming homeless. The use of alcohol and other substances is going up because of the stress people are under. Thus the cycle and culture of poverty continues on growing ever larger, taking down what people used to think of as the “middle class” but what has always been the working class… now becoming the underclass. There is more wealth concentrated in the hands of the few rich than ever before. The top 10 percent now possess 80 percent of all financial assets and the bottom 90 percent holds only 20 percent of all financial wealth.
As the owners gain more, the working class’s wages remain stagnant and prices go up. The working class is being exploited more and more. This is no temporary condition either; this is a direct by-product of capitalism. We have long ago been priced out of the façade known as the “American Dream,” and now we are being kept from even surviving. It is time for real “change we can believe in,” Mr. Obama. Maybe what we need to do is “take our country back,” from the likes of you.
The truth is the Democrats are as much of capitalists as the Republicans. Democrats no more serve working class interests than Republicans. They are controlled by their corporate masters who fund their campaigns and who make sure their agenda is pushed through above the American people’s agenda. Socialists propose that people own and control the means of production and democratically lead through cooperatives in their workplaces and in their local communities. Socialists believe in full employment for all those who want to work and a living wage. Socialists believe in a radical democracy free from control and interference from corporations or tyrants.
As long as America is going the way of capitalism, we are doomed to plutocracy and oligarchy—rule by a small number of rich people. There is a solution above and beyond compromising to the point of oblivion that we see from the likes of President Obama and the Democrats. We should look at what recently took place in Egypt and what is now taking place in Wisconsin to see that peaceful and powerful revolution is possible. As people wake up to the onslaught of attacks against us, we must organize to fight for truly progressive and ethical policies. We, the people, have the power to overthrow our masters and my hope is along the way we take another look at an alternative to capitalism—socialism, and this time see it for what it really is-- a good thing.