I am going to start by saying: I voted third party in the last election, and will probably continue to do so as I do not feel particularly strongly affiliated with the current political parties. So I was disgruntled before it was cool to be disgruntled. I exude a pretty sincere form of surly, and my attitude towards politics is consistent with that.
Now you know. And now I opine the following:
Obama is not a socialist. And unless I'm missing a huge piece of this legislation wherein the government announced it is taking my paycheck and instead paying me in labor credits, the health care bill is not an indication of socialism. At least, it's not any more socialist than TANF or Social Security or Medicare. I feel compelled to announce my opinion on this matter because I recently had a conversation with young, very smart, incredibly well-educated people who announced that Obama is a socialist, and gave the health care bill as an example. I thought this was an accusation lobbed mostly by sensationalist political media folks, because that's what they do. But when I discovered that people I regard as smart, good people were saying such things, well, it somehow validated this as an opinion that real people hold, and I felt compelled to respond, because I have an opinion too.
Stating that someone is a socialist puts a label on a person that just makes everything categorically BAD, therefore making it impossible to argue any actual merit. I wonder how we came to accept such firmly entrenched notions that socialism and communism are bad. You cannot be a government employee if you are a Communist. CANNOT. PROHIBITED. I am neither a socialist nor a communist; I have pretty strong libertarian leanings - but I balk at the categorization of other people's political beliefs as being "bad" or "prohibited." So by labeling this bill, or the President's support for it, as a "socialist" act, all that gets us is a label that it is "bad," without ever getting to what about the bill makes it bad. Or socialist. If the health care bill nationalized health care, in the sense that all medical providers were now declared government employees, and all hospitals became federally owned, etc... well that sounds like socialism, at least as I understand socialism.
But ok, there are different forms of socialism, and maybe what we don't like is the manner in which government has regulated health care now, and maybe that's socialist. I can almost accept that belief, except that government regulates a lot of industries. So what about this health care bill crosses the line from regulation, which Congress is doing every day in many areas of commerce, into socialism?
I actually care very little about the answers to these questions. My point is, the fact that you disagree with the health care bill does not = socialism. It's just name-calling. Name-calling avoids intelligent discussions about potential valid disagreements. I like intelligent discussions about valid disagreements because I have learned the most from them, and also have found them to be persuasive. When I hear a person whom I respect opine in a way that sounds logical, that challenges me to opine in an equally logical manner, and it challenges me to think about why I disagree with such logic, and whether I should. So what I hope and expect from my smart and well-educated peers is just that you can tell me why you disagree with the health care bill, and not just throw around bad names for it. Especially since I think it's a silly (as in unintelligent) premise that "socialist" is an insult.
up next: why BP is not "Obama's Katrina." [I started writing on this, but the Glee season finale is coming on soon. so maybe tomorrow I'll finish that thought...]