With the Republican nominee campaigns still trundling along with Romney taking another three states this week and Santorum hanging on as expected- the Eye on Washington takes a look at the greatest profanity in the American rhetoric-handbook: Socialism.
Socialism is un-American. Socialism is un-patriotic. Socialism is the antithesis of freedom- at least that is the conventional wisdom of the American media, whether liberal or conservative. If Fnords existed, than in America they are certainly used when the word “socialism” is invoked.
Attacks on this front have intensified this year with Republican nominees warning that America will be fundamentally changed by another four years of Obama, and set on an irreversible path towards European socialism. The favourite piece of evidence the nominees are fond of waving around to support such claims is, of course, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act– known more widely as ObamaCare.
The repeated attacks on ObamaCare have recently turned up trumps, with a constitutional challenge to the Supreme Court by the states taking place this week. The court ruling is not expected until June, but even liberal champion Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSBlog fame shared his fear on the Daily Show this week that the ruling will not be in the administration’s favour. One element that unites all Americans is the Constitution, and if ObamaCare is seen to conflict with it, this will act as a powerful symbol of how America and Socialism are incompatible.
Socialism is only starting to be reclaimed in Britain post-New Labour, after a long time out of fashion in mainstream politics. It does not look all that bleak for the s-word on the other side of the pond either. A recent poll by Gallup shows that socialism is seen as a positive by 36% of Americans. This is a significant base to work with, and far more than you might believe from the American media. Perhaps all the rhetoric is making people look up the actual definition of Socialism, and finding it quite to their liking?
Obama has been distancing himself from the association despite high profile support from celebrity socialists. This onslaught continued in the media with help of pranksters registering socialists.com and redirecting the address to Obama’s campaign website. Obama says he is no socialist, but this is beside the point. He cannot implement socialist policies, nor can he signal his intention to do so. But for Americans that hold onto Fabian values, whatever his personal politics he is the best choice to make practical victories both by policy and politically.
Make no mistake; American politics influence our own – more so than Europe. Our own plight with socialism is heavily influenced by cultural trends. Our own long-term route to socialism will be difficult with formal and informal dependencies of the former colony. Socialism benefits the 99%, and will benefit America, and movements like Occupy. The Republican’s rhetoric needs to lead to an open reasoned discussion about this – something that the American public theatre isn’t very good at being under corporate control.
What the publicity will bring in the current climate is an even more intense debate over the pros and cons of socialism If this creates a wider base of people sympathetic to socialism, then at the very least this will help persuade America to take a more tolerant approach to it in the long run.
Alex Adranghi is Chair of the Future of Finance Network