Sunday, November 2, 2008


The writer lives in Panama City Beach and has a bachelor's degree from Florida State University in Interdisciplinary Social Science and an associate's degree in Forestry Science.
If the future of a nation weren't at stake, the litany of characterizations of Barack Obama would be comical. To date, Obama has been labeled a black anti-American racist, a closet Muslim in league with al-Qaida, and now, a "Socialist Marxist." Lions, tigers and bears, oh my. The proof? Well, it should be obvious - he's black. His middle name is Hussein, and his father is purported to be Muslim. On top of that, he wants universal health care, a better life for the poor and impoverished, and big money interest groups to lose their inside track to Washington.
Yes, to conservatives and the wealthy, I suppose this would sound like the socialist boogieman. Sound ridiculous? It is. But I'm amazed at the number of people who claim to believe this nonsense. Sadly, all the facts in the world won't allow some people to think outside their social boxes. We still live in age where many do not let the facts get in the way of their ideals.
While the Muslim and racist rumors have been largely debunked - even if not to the satisfaction of hard-core fundamentalists - it is the latest desperate conservative exercise in neo-McCarthyism that is particularly ironic. It appears that Obama, and Democrats in general, are accused of wanting to "redistribute the wealth," in the form of higher taxes for the wealthy. To the conservative right, this sounds like a perfect opportunity to play the "socialism" card, a particularly useful political fear-mongering tool during an election.
The irony is that the wealth has been, and is being, redistributed, as you read this - only not in typical "socialist" fashion. The wealth it seems is drifting further and further out of reach of the poor, lower, and middle classes only to be redistributed to the wealthy. The gap between the wealthy and poor is greater than ever, a trend that has no end in sight. To some, "wealth re-distribution" is synonymous with taxes. The wealthy argue that they should not be taxed to help the poor, who by and large have made them rich to start with. To do so is "socialist" by their reckoning. The golden child of the GOP, Big Business, has realized a more than 500 percent increase in pay for CEOs already making millions each year. Astonishingly, they then level charges of "wealth redistribution" and "socialism" when they are required to pay more taxes. Ironically, it was some of these very Republicans, as well as Democrats, who pushed for a government bailout of Wall Street. Personally, I can't think of anything more "socialist" than a government "redistribution" of tax money to private companies. I suppose the government should only intervene with "socialism" when it benefits the wealthy?
Sure, we could cut all social programs and assistance for the working poor and those unable to provide for themselves, such as the disabled, elderly and children. We could insist that homeless children get a job. We wouldn't want any tax dollars being "redistributed" to those in need. It would after all, be "socialist."
Maybe we should cut school lunch assistance programs also. Why should my tax dollars be redistributed to hungry children? Let's go ahead and cut Medicare and Social Security while we are at it. We couldn't have tax dollars going to support the elderly who have worked all their lives and are now too old to do so. The wealth does not need to be "redistributed" if it is distributed fairly and wisely in the first place. It is grossly misleading and overly simplistic political fear mongering to suggest that any tax that benefits the poor is nothing more than socialism that is destined to lead America into a totalitarian communist state.
There have been many charges leveled against Barack Obama. He is certainly a Democrat, and arguably a liberal. For many this is reason enough to vote for a third term of George Bush politics. But if you're one of the thousands who has convinced themselves with the help of the fundamentalist right and FOX News that Obama is everything from the anti-Christ to the reincarnation of Karl Marx, its time for a reality check. You may come out from behind your mother's skirts; Barack Obama is not the dreaded socialist boogieman

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