Government: A new poll shows that two in five Americans worry America is heading toward socialism under President Obama. The evidence flies in the face of media reports pooh-poohing the notion.
The Associated Press recently filed a story asking the question, "Is Obama a Socialist?" It emphatically concluded the charge "lacks credence," without exploring anything about Obama's background and little about his policies.
Yet 40% of Americans think the U.S. is "evolving into a socialist state" under the president's policies, says an IBD/TIPP Poll taken after the Supreme Court upheld ObamaCare. The share is up from 37% in January, but down slightly from 2010's 41%. Only 25% believed as much in mid-2008, three months before Obama won the White House.
Critics argue that Obama is not instating socialism under historic definitions of the term, including: government control of production, central economic planning and expropriation of property. But such definitions are outdated.
"Socialism has come to mean chiefly the extensive redistribution of incomes through taxation and the institutions of the welfare state," reformed socialist F.A. Hayek wrote in 1976 — 32 years after publishing his classic, "The Road to Serfdom."
If he were alive today, Hayek almost certainly would view Obama as a socialist. Among other redistributive schemes, Obama has levied a record $2 trillion tax on Americans to launch a massive new welfare entitlement for the medically uninsured.
Hayek explained that there's a thin line between last century's communism and the kind of stealth socialism that Europe and now Obama are slowly institutionalizing through massive new taxes, spending and regulations.
Today's collectivism is "brought about more slowly, indirectly and imperfectly," Hayek said, "but the ultimate outcome tends to be very much the same" — government control of the economy. He said the only dispute between liberals and socialists is the methods used to reach that end.
"Nearly all the points which are disputed between socialists and liberals concern the methods common to all forms of collectivism," Hayek argued, "and not the particular ends for which socialists want to use them."
He said the problem with socialists is they think they can build a "decent world" by redistributing wealth through government. But it's in fact "irresponsible." What's decent is building up the general level of wealth by incentivizing individuals to create more of it.
Most Americans reject the socialist way. The IBD/TIPP Poll found that more than 60% don't want government controlling industries or redistributing wealth.
Obama is well aware of these attitudes. He knows he can't sell socialism up front. So he repackages it as benign populism or even pragmatism. ObamaCare is a good example. The president deceived the public by claiming his individual health mandate was not a tax.
That more Americans don't see his agenda as socialism is testament to the power of his propaganda — as well as the old media's success in disguising his radical past.
Throughout his life, Obama has surrounded himself with rabid anti-capitalists, militant radicals, doctrinaire leftists, unapologetic Marxists, and even card-carrying members of the Communist Party.
As president, Obama has shown he's highly allergic to capitalism and distrustful of the profit motive. He's demonized success and equated individualism — the very cornerstone of the American creed — with "selfishness." In fact, he considers it the root of all evil in society.
This puts him dangerously out of synch with the rhythm of the nation, which moves by individual initiative and interest. However you label Obama's ideology, it's decidedly un-American.