A curious trend in right-wing rhetoric


It’s become apparent in recent weeks that there are very carefully scripted talking points behind charges of SOCIALISM ZOMGZ from people like Minnesota’s own Michele Bachmann when they’re leveled at the Obama administration. 

Now, let’s make something painfully clear: I don’t think the Obama White House is doing a very good job. At messaging, at consistency, at following through on campaign promises, at winning issues instead of being beaten by them, on much of anything other than being marginally better than the worst administration in modern history.

But when you hear Bachmann and her ilk say we’re headed down the path to SOCIALISM, watch out! You might feel a talking point whizzing by your head.

They’re saying “socialism” because they can’t say what they really want to say: COMMUNISM. They can’t say COMMUNISM because then it would become clear what they’re really trying to do: scare people as their political predecessors did during the Cold War. If they warned of COMMUNISM, they’d sound like the story they’re actually trying to use: a 30-year-old broken record.

What Bachmann’s crowd won’t tell you is that social democracy — the brand now practiced in most of the successful nations of western Europe, in which the social contract is lauded, upheld, and above all supported — works, regardless of the fact that it incorporates what are known in current American political parlance as “socialized” policies. This is the fundamental truth lurking in the shadows created by all those SOCIALISM scares. Liberal democracy coupled with a strong social safety net and fewer advantages for corporate citizens works. Call it what you want, but it’s a success. Plain. And. Simple.

In the 20th century, America taught Europe about democracy, saved it from itself (twice!), and defended it against Soviet predations for decades. Perhaps in the 21st we as a nation can swallow our hubris a little and learn from those we once taught.

Otherwise, I hear something bad cometh after this pride. Or something like that.