The following letter was sent to the Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette in response to an opinion article by the editorial page editor. The Journal-Gazette did not publish my letter in either their print edition or web editions, even though I received an email suggesting that they might.
As a pastor, I like words. I study words because I use words. The right word is essential to effective and accurate communication. Over time, words change meaning. This change is inevitable and unstoppable. One word which many people are using today is the word “socialism”.
My undergrad major was political science, and I intended to go to law school. However, as an undergrad, I decided to pursue another type of Law which more effectively solves people's problems (but that is another story). For my undergrad degree, I took two classes in communism and also political theory classes. Two of the classes I took were taught by Dr. Gary Bertsch, an expert on Eastern Europe. To be accurate, socialism is an economic theory, not a political theory. Yet socialism has fingers which reach into politics as well as economics.
I read Tracy Warner's article, “Obama's Policies Are Not Socialist”, and noticed that most of his argument seemed to highlight that others before Obama enacted similar policies, yet few called those policies “socialist”. That is like a child stealing candy, then pointing out that others steal candy too.
To be honest, Mr. Warner is right about one point: President Obama is continuing and enlarging what President Bush started last Fall. However, as much as I like President Bush, the policies he proposed were socialistic. When President Bush's father was President, he too engaged in socialist policies with the government bailout of some savings and loan institutions. As Mr. Warner points out, farm subsidies are indeed a form of socialism, which tends to reveal that once a socialistic program becomes entrenched in a society, that program is there to stay. Government funded prescriptions and health care are two more socialistic programs which, once begun, will never end. Why do politicians, whom you assume would reject socialist programs, enact socialist programs? Because they are politicians who want to get re-elected. And a politician cannot get re-elected if he makes too many people mad.
Are President Obama's policies socialistic? To answer that question, consider the Fabian Society. Started in 1884 in Britain by George Bernard Shaw, the Fabians taught that government should achieve socialism gradually through minimum wage laws, government subsidized agriculture, restrictions on private property (even to the point of eliminating private property), government control of education, and other policies.
Based upon the definition of socialism which Mr. Warner's article used, it seems obvious to me that, yes, the policies of the federal government are a form of socialism. He admits near the end of his article that our government is assuming ownership of “a handful of companies”. Yet these companies are some of the largest and influential companies in America. If these “staunchest Republican capitalists” which he refers to aren't complaining too loudly about socialism, that does not prove that it isn't socialism. Their silence only proves that they are silent.
President Obama is simply continuing what many other Presidents have started. To say that other Presidents have enacted similar policies and therefore his policies cannot be socialism begs the question and does not prove anything except that others have done it too.
The move toward socialism in America began many decades ago. What we are seeing today is the result of patient waiting by those who wish America to be more socialistic.