What does it say about a person when he's convinced Obama subscribes to a certain ideology and yet when you ask them to tell us what this ideology entails he has absolutely no idea.
My email inbox and Facebook feed are exploding with assertions that Obama is a socialist/communist. I've been doing a little expirament for months now. When I hear someone bash socialism or communism I simply ask them to tell me what those things are. I have not once heard an accurate response.
I've had discussions with people that think invading Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia and killing 4 million people was OK because those people were communists. What is a communist? They don't know.
It's pretty astonishing to think about. What if someone that had the authority to order you to be killed said "You need to die because you are a flakill." And when you ask this person to tell you what a flakill is they admit they don't know, and they go on to kill and all the while think what they did is fine. It's scary.
In Orwell's book "1984" they have what they call the 2 minutes hate. They just set 2 minutes aside to hate some object that leadership has decided should be hated. We have an entire country of people that fears and hates socialism, and yet almost none of them actually know what it is. Don't you need to understand something before you hate it? And if you are being compelled to hate something and you don't know what it is, doesn't this suggest that you have been manipulated? You wouldn't naturally do that on your own.
Just because someone believes in government intervention in the economy, this does not make them a socialist. I've seen Paul Krugman (and I'm not going to try and find the video, so you'll just have to trust me) say emphatically that he is a capitalist, not a socialist, and he thinks capitalism is better. Yes, he wants publicly provided health care. Yes, he wants regulation of banking. But the key is he thinks private ownership of the means of production should remain.
A common rhetorical trick is to define terms in a way the real meat of the disagreement is never addressed. I tend to think that capitalists are just uncomfortable defending capitalism. Maybe when they hear socialism defined honestly they can see that it makes some sense. Workers own the factory. Workers only reap the rewards of their labor. Non-workers aren't entitled to the fruits of my labor. Owners don't actually make a productive contribution, so they are superflous. And the fact is they get the bulk of the fruits of the labor while doing nothing. That's tough to rebut. Some capitalists try to argue that the owner is making a productive contribution. Good on them for actually addressing the real disagreement. But most people don't even try. They don't even want to enter into the debate here. So they shift the terms of the debate and pretend the debate is really about something else.
Pretending socialism simply means supporting a stronger welfare state is one approach. Socialists usually like these things, thinking that within a capitalist society these government interventions are great for alleviating problems. The defender of capitalism would rather talk about that. Is publiclly provided health care effective? Is regulation going to solve problems that result from capitalism? Can global warming be alleviated without government regulation? Pretend that this is where the debate between socialism and capitalism lies. In that way Obama is a socialist. And the real disagreement between the socialist and the capitalist doesn't enter the discussion.
Who do you think benefits from this condition? The condition that says the owner gets the bulk of the money without working and the justness of this condition is never questioned? The one that benefits is the person that gets that money without working. I think therein lies the explanation of why Americans very much hate socialism and yet don't know what it is. This condition is very useful for the rich. It also explains a lot of US violence. Violence against Cuba makes little sense if you think it's a response to a threat to the American people. But it makes perfect sense when you consider that their system, which says there is no ownership class that gets the bulk of the money without working, that is a genuine threat to owners that get most of the money without working. And so Cuba is resisted violently. That resistance is often supported by Americans that know only that socialism is bad. They don't know what it is or what kind of threat it really represents. The real threat of Cuba is the threat of the good example. If Cuba is allowed to proceed without US interference the people there will be much better off. Other nations will follow their approach, and now you've aced out the non-worker owners from taking the bulk of the money while doing none of the work. That's a real threat. And that explains why Cuba, Vietnam, Venezuela, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and all the rest have been and are being attacked.