Witte: Socialists would actually be disappointed in President Obama

Jacob Witte


If you were to go to any tea party rally in this country, odds are you will hear these two words being shouted into bullhorns, megaphones and microphones, as well as from random people in the crowd. They are more than likely using these words to describe our president, Barack Obama, because the policies enacted under his presidency, in their view, are socialist in nature.

These charges have mainly been promulgated by conservative news outlets such as Fox News and Drudge Report, as well as the troupe of right-wing talk radio hosts on a daily basis. The Health Insurance Reform, signed by Obama last year, was reported by the aforementioned as a “government takeover of health care,” which was complete with the oh-so-scary and oh-so-false “death panels.” A lie perpetuated mainly by Sarah Palin, whose expansive knowledge of health insurance policy led her to such a reasonable and rational accusation.

Let us consider, however, the notion that the Affordable Care Act is in fact a socialist or Marxist policy. One defining aspect of a socialist health care system is that there is one unitary health care system; the National Health Service in the U.K. is a good example, where doctors, nurses, hospitals and everything in between dealing with medicine is funded by the government.

While America does have several government-funded health care agencies (Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Affairs, etc.), a purely socialist Affordable Care Act would provide for all Americans to either enter into one heath care body, or allow anyone to opt in to Medicare (this provision, while on the table at one point, was scrapped). If Obama was a devout Marxist, would he be truly proud of the Affordable Care Act, which mandates that individuals purchase private, for-profit health insurance? Would he brag that it did not create a single-payer system? Would he be satisfied if the private, for-profit health insurance industry was not completely destroyed and replaced by a National Health System-type program? I will leave the answer to you.

Another topic that seems to be peddled around again and again is taxes. At the end of 2010, Obama signed into law the extension of the Bush tax cuts for an extra two years. This one is pretty easy to deconstruct. If our president was a Marxist through and through, there is no possible way he would be able to live with himself after this decision. Although Obama was upset that the tax cuts had to continue for two years, a Marxist Obama would call for the outright seizure of all of the wealthy in this country’s assets, or enough to redistribute it to the proletariat of this country. And also, many tea partyers use T.E.A. as an abbreviation for “Taxed Enough Already.” However, the tax burden on Americans is at a 58-year low. Let me repeat that. Fifty-eight-year low. Clearly we are not being taxed enough if the last time we saw taxes this low was during the Eisenhower administration.

The Obama administration also has seen the extension and continuation of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as the bombings of Libya earlier this year. Since Marxist theorists generally see international war as capitalist imperialism, which only seeks to benefit war profiteers and the ruling class to further enslave the working class, would our “Marxist” president be able to support the continuation of these wars, or the bombings of another coincidentally oil-rich nation in Libya?

One final aspect that seeks to support the claim that our president is far from a Marxist is his view on religion. Marx himself was an atheist and outright despised religion, calling it the “opiate of the masses.” If you have been following the right-wing attacks on Obama since 2008, you either know him (falsely) as a radical Christian with anti-American views fostered by Jeremiah Wright, or you know him (also falsely) as a Muslim. Either way, the term “atheist” never enters the picture.

So at the end of the day, it is clear to see how the president is not a Marxist, and that his policies are hardly socialist. It seems that conservatives do not seem to know anything about what socialism really is or have any idea what Marx wrote about. One can know and understand Marxism without condoning it, and therein lies the problem: To even know or understand Marxism in today’s hyper-capitalist, knee-jerk reaction society tends to make one a Marxist without even realizing it. And we all know there is nothing worse than a Marxist.