Is Barack Obama a socialist? Many on the right say yes; most on the left say no. It is a major question that has pervaded our politics for the last four years with no definitive answer either one way or the other. But I think the answer is obvious, if one will only look objectively at the clear signs.
First of all, how do you define socialism? The historical definition is a simple one: government ownership of the means of production and the central economic planning that makes such an arrangement possible. Yet in the modern era, it has undergone a necessary re-evaluation.
In 1976, Nobel Prize-winning economist F. A. Hayek, in an updated version of his influential book The Road to Serfdom, re-defined it for contemporary times: “Socialism has come to mean chiefly the extensive redistribution of incomes through taxation and the institutions of the welfare state.”
If that definition doesn’t accurately describe Obama and the modern Democratic Party, then I don’t know what does. Critics argue that there is no hard-core proof that Obama is a socialist. Yet the circumstantial evidence is extraordinarily strong. You might even say overwhelming.
Obama’s father, the Kenyan economist Barack Obama, Sr., believed in an extreme form of socialism, whereby the government would confiscate 100 percent of a nation’s wealth. Under such a brutal system, everyone’s wages would be taken by the government to be dispersed equally among the masses in the form of necessary public services.
In a 1965 article in the East Africa Journal, Obama, Sr. had written, “Theoretically, there is nothing that can stop the government from taxing 100% of income so long as the people get benefits from the government commensurate with their income which is taxed.” To the government “there is no limit to taxation if the benefits derived from public services by society measure up to the cost in taxation which they have to pay.” He wanted Kenya to embrace such a system.
Most Obama defenders would argue that just because his father was an avowed socialist does not mean that the son is also an adherent. This is true but let us look deeper.
Obama’s autobiography, written at the ripe old age of 32, is entitled Dreams from my Father, not to be confused with Dreams of my Father. His mother taught him to idolize Barack, Sr., even though he really didn’t know him. “All of my life, I carried a single image of my father, one that I…tried to take as my own,” he wrote. He was “the father of my dreams, the man in my mother’s stories, full of high-blown ideals….”
It’s clear Obama sought to follow in his father’s footsteps. “It was into my father’s image…that I’d packed all the attributes I sought in myself.” He has worked on it his entire life.
In addition to his father, the young Obama’s mentor was Frank Marshall Davis, an avowed communist, whom he mentioned in Dreams numerous times. As a college student, Obama attended several socialist conferences, also admitting it in Dreams. He also acknowledged that among his “carefully” chosen friends, he included the “Marxist professors.”
As a state senator in Chicago, Obama was listed as a member of a new organization called “The New Party,” which sought to push the Democratic Party farther to the left, toward a socialist agenda, and if that goal could not be accomplished, then gain ballot access as a new political party to challenge Democrats.
Over the years, as his national aspirations have grown, Obama and his handlers have tried hard to hide his evident socialist leanings. But those views have slowly but surely seeped out. We all remember the famous exchange with Joe the Plumber on the 2008 campaign trail, where Obama stated his belief that spreading the wealth around “is good for everybody.”
As president, his class warfare rhetoric, his repeated denunciations of the rich, and his cozy attitude toward the socialistic Occupy Movement have only served to heighten suspicions.
In the first presidential debate with Mitt Romney, even more evidence came out, when he had what might be considered a true Freudian slip.
After first assuring us that “the genius of America is the free enterprise system and freedom and the fact that people can go out there and start a business, work on an idea, make their own decisions,” Obama made an amazing assertion in his closing statement, one that seemed to contradict what he had just said and one he tried to reel back in.
The actions of his administration thus far, he said, “are designed to make sure that the American people, their genius, their grit, their determination, is – is channeled and – and they have an opportunity to succeed. And everybody’s getting a fair shot. And everybody’s getting a fair share – everybody’s doing a fair share, and everybody’s playing by the same rules.”
Excuse me? A fair share? That’s one of the central tenants of modern socialism, as advocated by Barack Obama, Sr. in Kenya. Perhaps the son is truly becoming like his father. I just hope and pray he doesn’t get a second term because then, most assuredly, we will all find out.
This column was published in the Laurel Leader Call (Laurel, MS) on Tuesday, October 16, 2012.