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Davis

Davis, California

Friday, April 19, 2024

Column: The Left Nut

Barack Obama is a socialist. Let that sink in for a minute.

Whether you agree or disagree, you have to admit that this is a pretty loaded phrase. Levying such harsh accusations against an individual has become a scathing insult of the worst kind, akin to calling someone the spawn of Satan. It has reached the point where people can hardly differentiate between socialism and communism. “That socialist Obama just wants to take my money and give it to the freeloaders,” some say, as if taxes on the wealthy were a sin worthy of the ninth circle of Hell.

What often logically follows this is some groundless but stirring claim that he wants to take our “freedom” away. After all, America was founded on the principles of liberty, was it not? How dare anyone take our rights like that! That’s just un-American!

Freedom, like socialism, is another loaded word that will always elicit a response even if it has little factual basis. It sounds nice in theory, yet freedom, like most things, must be kept in check. Look at it this way: if America were a totally free country, should I be allowed to murder whomever I please with no ramifications?

The answer is no, and that is why we have a legal system in the first place: to govern people insofar as it is necessary to do so. In order to live in a stable society, I have to compromise my right to kill people.

To be clear, I’m not against freedom as an idea. I believe in freedom of expression as most people do. What I do not believe in is the type of freedom that allows billionaires to store money in offshore tax havens.

Next time you hear someone campaigning on a platform of “liberty,” be wary. The same liberty that affords you your freedom of speech one day may allow a corporation to scam you out of your hard-earned money the next.

So I’ll repeat: Barack Obama is a socialist. You know who else was a socialist? One of the most beloved presidents in history, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower. Marginal tax rates on the top bracket hit their all time high of 92 percent under Eisenhower, and he undertook perhaps the most ambitious social spending program in history. Yet no one ever refers to him as a socialist, because using such an epithet in reference to him is practically blasphemy.

This rhetoric is a double-edged sword. Let me play devil’s advocate for a minute. Many zealots on my own side of the political spectrum throw out the word “capitalism” as if it were Nazism. I’ve been in conversations where a single drop of the C-bomb could silence the room.

As a progressive, I firmly believe well-regulated capitalism is the most efficient economic structure mankind has ever devised, and it makes me cringe when people assume capitalism is terrible without having studied basic economics. The fact is that we live in a mixed economy; that is, capitalism and socialism coexist. So few people realize this, however, that they continue to tear apart these economic systems — even when these systems are working successfully right under their noses.

Buzzwords have made their way into other realms of politics, too. Perhaps the most notable example is the ongoing “pro-life” vs. “pro-choice” debate. Those against abortion artfully word their stance in a way that implies their opponents are anti-life, and those in favor of abortion suggest that their opponents are anti-choice.

Of course, neither of these accusations is true, but the phrasing is so powerful that it instantly demonizes the other side. If you believe a fetus is a human being, then great. That does not entitle you to call your opponents baby-killers. Conversely, if you believe in a woman’s right to an abortion, that’s awesome. That still doesn’t mean you can refer to your opponents as woman-haters.

America has enjoyed success for hundreds of years because of the ideals upon which it was founded: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, freedom to choose, general welfare of the people, you name it.

Republicans and Democrats alike believe in these principles, we just happen to interpret them differently. So, next time you want to use what seems like a harsh word against a political opponent, remember: we live in a free, well-governed, capitalist, socialist, pro-life, pro-choice, country. And a great country it is.

 

If you still think ZACH MOORE is dirty communist scum, you can tell him so at zcmoore@ucdavis.edu.

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