For the People: Herr Obama and the Socialist States of America

A basic principle upon which I’ve learned to live my life is that I should never be surprised at people’s ability to disappoint me. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, and begin relationships from a position of trust. I believe that most people want to do what is right and good and fair. I have simply learned that I am often wrong about that, and I should not let myself get too down when people reveal themselves to be of a different persuasion.

As part of that principle, there comes a corollary requirement to forgive those who disappoint.
I have been feeling a great deal of disappointment lately. Though I have remained steadfast in my insistence on not being surprised, I’m having more difficulty with the forgiveness part. So, before I begin my criticisms of the poor behavior I’ve witnessed, let me take a moment to embarrass you fools who clicked into my post solely for the title, believing this would be another outlet to reinforce the hateful and barely masked racist attitudes you’ve promoted. You’re not going to find what you want here. I do hope you’ll stick around, though. It will be good for you.

I’m disappointed in our President. I feel that President Obama has squandered a tremendous amount of political capital and good will, just as his predecessor did. The people in our own country and throughout the world looked at the election as a graduation from our own past. Because our national history is riddled with inhumane transgressions against people of non-white races, to see a brown-skinned man elected to the highest office in the land gave all a sense that we were moving on, and the change in attitude towards race was interpreted as a signal of further and greater changes to come. Our President and the newly-empowered Democratic Congress have unfortunately demonstrated a tendency to stay the course, and follow in the footsteps of the “leaders” who participate in a puppet-show of political debate while allowing and assisting in quiet Constitutional erosion. But, to borrow a common quote from our Chief Executive, “let me be clear.” My complaints about Obama and the Democratic Party are based in reality. Comparing Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler, or shouting the word “socialist” every time a piece of legislation is designed to benefit all Americans (not just the rich ones) is nothing but hateful, lazy, and uninformed fiction.

Adolf Hitler is no longer simply a historical figure – a point of reference for those with an understanding of history. He’s the very opposite. He is a euphemism made possible by his wide recognition, and thereby becomes a simple and fast symbol to communicate negative characteristics to a populace without the time or inclination to think through such a comparison. He is a synonym for Darth Vader. Any person who dislikes another person can lazily invoke the name of Hitler as a slur and achieve some success at disparaging them. Just a partial list of the people who have been subject to that comparison includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, the nation of Israel, Clarence Thomas, Martha Stewart, Bill O’Reilly, Pat Buchanan, Howard Dean, global warming, and vegetarians. It’s absurd. It’s wrong. It’s offensive.

When people discuss Adolf Hitler, is the major criticism that he wanted to ensure health care for all of Germany’s citizens? I don’t see that as Hitler’s defining characteristic. Socialism? There are many nations of the world that operate under socialist governments, yet we don’t label each of their leaders as another Hitler. Even if you want to label Obama as a socialist (and I’ll get to that fallacy in just a minute), I still know that the following conversation has never taken place:

“Class, I’d like you to get your text books and turn to page 213. Today we’re going to begin studying World War II, the Holocaust, and the evil of Adolf Hitler.”

“Mr. Professor, what made Hitler such an evil historical figure that he still evokes extreme disdain and nearly universal condemnation?” asked young Johnny.

“Well, Johnny,” said Mr. Professor, “He was a socialist.”

Never happened.

Comparing a fascist dictator responsible for the extermination of 6 million Jews to a democratically elected President attempting to make sure all Americans have access to health care is reprehensible in every way. It might be wiser instead to remember that Hitler came to power and outlawed opposing political parties, which brings to mind Karl Rove’s blueprint for a permanent Republican majority. He cultivated a populist base by exploiting xenophobia and racial pride, like the Republican “birthers” and the persistent anti-immigration platforms of the Grand Ol’ Party. Those today so vocally opposed to same-sex marriage might be reminded that Hitler was also interested in the sanctity of that institution, and banned marriages between Jews and Aryans. He was a proponent of war and military expansion and was uninterested in the stress those pursuits might put on the national economy, an attitude mirrored by the last three Republican Presidents, at least. So if we want to draw comparisons, let’s make sure we draw them all.

It’s less offensive but equally absurd to paint our President or the Democrats in Congress as socialists. First of all, socialism is not a terrible concept. Like many other parts of our language it has been turned into a pejorative by people who have poorly understood it and misused it. It doesn’t help that the word became guilty by association with foreign governments that were often opposed by our own in the last century, even though those governments were not actually socialist but rather fascist. Have you ever seen those dreams of the future from the 1950’s, in which all of our lives were made better by robots and computers? The fantasies of a 20-hour work-week made possible by advances in technology – technology which would eliminate manual labor, solve the social ills of hunger, poverty, and illness? Those were illustrations of socialism – the application of technology and resources for the betterment of all members within a society.

Obama is no socialist, despite contrary misconceptions. He still supports the American capitalist idea that you can start with nothing, work hard, be competitive, and have it all. He’s actually not a bad example of that concept. He believes in that idea, as many Americans do despite the fact that they’ll never achieve it because they’ll never really be allowed the opportunity. Americans cling to the notion of rugged self-sufficiency without recognizing the publicly supported advantages they already possess, and remain willfully ignorant that barely-checked capitalism in this country has allowed the rich to get richer while the poor become poorer; that the gap between the two groups grows ever more wide; that the laws and organizations of the nation are undermined by corporate interests; and, that most citizens and a growing number of corporations benefit from “socialist” services all the time. I wonder how many people that have bandied about the word socialist at town hall meetings or at the dinner table or on Facebook in relation to their disapproval of our President have ever driven on a road, walked on a sidewalk, visited a public park, checked a book out from the library, had a relative on Social Security, called the police, learned something at a public school, left trash at the curb for pick-up, been thankful to have a fire department, cheered for a sports team at a publicly-funded arena, or supported our troops. Those services and benefits have all been as socialist as a national health care plan could be.

My point is simple. I’m not mad at you, just disappointed. Grow up. If you have a disagreement, discuss it like an adult. Name-calling has no place in civilized debate. It just makes it appear that you don’t know your facts because your ideas were spoon-fed to you in the first place.


Jake Negovan strives to shine a light on truth and hypocrisy when the mainstream media overlooks those small details. “…For the People,” Jake’s column, is his platform to address the issues that our country faces as we continue growing toward a society of equality.


19 Responses to For the People: Herr Obama and the Socialist States of America

  1. Jen

    Bravo, Jake! I think you said it wonderfully.

  2. Lilia Ruiz

    Thanks , Jake! You made my day.
    Lilia

  3. EZ

    I think you need to look up the definition of “Socialism”. All the ones I have seen speak to public or government ownership with no private ownership. How do you get 20 hour work weeks out of that?

  4. Casey

    Not bad at all. I’ve been saying this for a while. Not many people are willing to listen.

  5. Cheryl Johnson

    I came across this article, because I was reading an Editorial on CNN by Ruiz called “Open Your Minds”. I truly like the concept and agree wholeheartidly that we need to engage in a far more civil discourse about the issues at hand. We need to “change our mind” or in other words, “open our mind”.

    I truly believe that the majority of people in this country want to “help the little guy” and be benevolent in our endeavors. Where we run in to problems is in the practical application. Conservatives plead the cause of “is government help truly help or just a handout that enables”. Liberals plead the cause that “we are our brother’s keeper”. Both are true. Both are ideologies.

    Is one Socialism and the other not…. I don’t know because there is no real definition, other than the one in dictionary which seems to be a bit fluid.

    I think where we run in to problems is that this country was founded by people who felt they wanted freedom from an “oppresive government”. What – they didn’t want to pay a small tax on stamps and tea. And of course they content they did not have a say in that matter. Most of us believe in their cause – #1, because we did not have to sacrifice and give our life or the life of our loved one to earn that freedom. I think most people change their tune quite a bit when fighting for that concept requires a tremendous amount of sacrifice on their part. We are no different than people back then. This battle has continued to this day.

    How much does the government have a right to be involved in our lives? Where do we draw the line when it comes to social programs. Or even military programs. I want the government to pay for police, roads, and schools, but not housing or healthcare for the poor. Or I want the military to protect when when I feel the cause is just, but not necessarily when my neighbor feels the cause is just.

    Our constitution was founded on the principle of compromise. It was designed to reflect the opinion of the majority but still give the “small guy” a signficant say in the matter.

    We will always fight about how big of a role government should play, but we need to fight vigoursly to defend that right. We should examine history critically to make sure that mistakes of the past don’t repeat themselves. But we should always be willing to listen carefully to the other side of the argument and understand why other people do not share our views.

    I did not vote for Obama, but I believe that most people who did voted for him because they really believed that HE could change the world. HE cannot change the world any more than any other figure throughout history can. You can I can change the world and to do that we need to quit sitting on other sides of the fence throwing mud at each other. That changes nothing. We need to take the time to truly explore all sides of an issue and understand why people feel the way they do.

    I don’t think Obama is Hitler and I seriously doubt he will ever commit genocide (Hitler’s defining moment) but please understand my fear when I see a man rise to power like Hiltler did. He sees a country in disarray and plays on their dire situation to gain popularity. He promises many things that he cannot keep, unless he does them by force – like passing healthcare without following the established rules in Congress. He “never lets a crisis go to waste”… although not his statement, surely a reflection of his administration. He uses this crisis to further his agenda – even if he goes against the will of people to do so.

    He is now starting to “propagandize” schools. He is instituting a program, that seems, although harmless on the surface” to encourage kids to do well in school – that’s the part liberals see – but the part conservatives see is the part where he wants them to dissect his speeches and pick out what they feel “motivated them”. But he does not solicit that type of input from anything President Bush said, or President Reagan said…seems a bit one sided to me.

    Now we can argue all day long about whether you are right or whether I am right – I would content we are both right and we need to find some common ground and work from there.

    The government is not our friend any more than private industry is our friend. When we view life through that prism, I think we will all find that the only true friends we have are eachother. And we are killing the relationship we have with eachother to support an institution that is truly not our friend (government or industry) and is very self serving and there to gain money and power for themselves.

    Let’s quit fighting with our friends and fight the real enemies at hand. Both have taken over our lives and left us feeling somewhat helpless so we scream and holler and throw mud in a weak attempt to fix things. It’s not fixing anything.

  6. Andyman

    I will make sure every one of my friends reads this

  7. Dan Lauber

    Good gads, another writer here who treats readers as if they were adults. Will the good sense and rational reasoning at this site never stop?

    What if it becomes contagious and people all of the country start to behave this way? How could Fox News, Lou Dobbs, and even MSNBC survive if the public rejects their sensationalism, illogic, and in the case of the first two, just plain lies?

    Could America survive its adults acting like adults when it comes to political debate?

    I’d sure like the opportunity to see that happen. Thanks to RedBrownandBlue for raising my hopes.

  8. Tom

    I redirected to this website because I was impressed with Mr. Ruiz’s article on CNN.com, and his call for greater discussion and deeper thought on all our parts. His piece is apposite for this time in our history, and I applaud him for it. I came to this site to learn more about him and his group, and what you all stand for.

    That said, I found this article to be exactly the type of article I thought Mr. Ruiz was arguing against—a one-sided argument against straw men for the purpose of stumping for a party/issue. This entire article is nothing more than a castigation of Republicans, capitalists, and anyone opposed to health care, with thinly veiled accusations of racism or hatred on their part. That sir, is no argument, but rather a perpetuation of the same sort of talking-heads claptrap I thought Mr. Ruiz was arguing against.

    Let me take your first point. Comparing Pres. Obama to Hitler is absurd, and a stellar example of why Godwin’s Law should probably be codified. To call Obama Hitler trivializes the Second World War, the Shoah, and all of the Nazis’ sins. That said, it is also an all too common piece of demagoguery to label someone as “racist” whenever we wish to denigrate them without taking them seriously. To illustrate the point, let me do a little cut and paste from your own article: “Any person who dislikes another person can lazily invoke the [label “racist”] as a slur and achieve some success at disparaging them.” Yet in your article you use this very tactic in trying to denounce opponents of the health care bill.

    You say that calling Obama “socialist” or comparing him to Hitler betrays “barely masked racist attitudes” and “hateful” speech. Certainly it is lazy, and it is stupid (or at the very least, it is a lazy attempt to score points with ideologues). That said, for you to insinuate that only a racist would call Pres. Obama names or disagree with him is to sink to the same simple-minded, ugly demagoguery you claim to denounce. It is an all too common tactic of the left to shout “racist” whenever someone criticizes a person of color (c.f. Gov. Patterson), which has the effect of trivializing racism and emptying the word of its meaning. Shame on you.

    This could have been chalked up to rhetorical excess, or your own preoccupations with race, until I reached your paragraph comparing Hitler to Republicans, conservatives, and advocates of traditional marriage. I agree with you that calling Obama or most anyone else “Hitler” is a shortcut to serious thinking. Yet you seem not to have taken that lesson to heart, but are rather more interested in turning it on its head to so that you can disparage Republicans and conservatives in the same way—and not in an ironical or tongue-in-cheek way, but earnestly pushing your comparisons in seriousness. Once again, you do not hold yourself to your own ostensible standards, but rather betray them so you can take potshots at the other side.

    Which brings me to my final point. Detesting socialism in this country is not hateful, racist, or even necessarily lazy. First of all, not everyone calls the current health care bill “socialism” in bad faith. Many people I know believe that this health care bill is—or will become—a form of socialism. Some of them are native Americans, and some are immigrants from former Communist countries with bitter memories of government run programs. They believe this based on the bill as it stands, and out of fear of what it could become, not as a sound bite they are using to score points.

    Secondly, socialism has at best a mixed record on solving societal ills, and regarding health care, its record is even worse. If it wasn’t, why would thousands of Canadians and Europeans come to America every year to get medical treatment? True, Americans go to Canada for treatment too, but that is largely because of cost. Canadians and Europeans come here because of quality—often, they simply cannot get the quality care they need under the health care systems in their native countries.

    But I digress. My response is not about health care, because your article was not about health care. Take, for instance, your treatment of socialism itself. First you say it should not be a dirty word. You assert (falsely) that any program dealing with communal goods is thereby socialist, and so anyone who likes firemen, roads, and sunshine is unknowingly socialist. You also point out that capitalism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, since in this country the rich seem to get richer while the poor get poorer. However, you again turn your own argument on its head, saying that Obama isn’t a socialist anyway, he’s a good-hearted capitalist just like me, the reader. So which is it? Is Pres. Obama a red-blooded capitalist just like Americans are supposed to be, so only a racist or hate-monger would call him otherwise? Or is Pres. Obama a socialist but that’s ok because socialism is good anyway? You seem to want it both ways, so long as Pres. Obama is cast in the best light for the reader, whichever way he or she leans.

    I am genuinely disappointed by this article, particularly since I was happy to find a new commentator on CNN.com. Balanced thinkers are a threatened species nowadays, and a moderate thinker advocating moderation is a sorely needed resource. Sadly, this article represents exactly what I thought Mr. Ruiz was advocating against. I plan to send a copy of this response to him, to see if this article represents what he and his group stand for, or whether the article on CNN.com does. In the meantime, I suggest that Mr. Negovan explore his own bias and partisanship, and whether he properly applies his standards of fairness to his own writing.

  9. Tom Berry

    The purpose of the discourse is to demonstarate that it is better to be a non-isimist than to be csught up in isms.

    One of the cornerstones of our economy is to foster private enterprise for the profit motive and efficiency, and regulation for the common good. This is not socialism, but a balance of economic power that helps lead a nation to a much better day.

    Also, it is imperitive to listen to all divergent views, as, we are after all a deliberate assembly whenever we meet to decide anything.

    We don’t have to burn down the house in order to move the furniture. Your comments are well taken.

  10. Andyman

    The article’s goal is to address the need to abandon labels that get in the way of rational argument and is therefore consistent with the message in “Open your minds, America.” Arguments to the contrary are irrelevant anyhow, since that piece was entitled “Open your minds, America” and not “The RedBrownandBlue.com Manifesto”.

    The author turns the labels on their heads not to argue their opposite but to show their arbitrariness and irrelevance. Admittedly, if his bias shows up anywhere, it’s here, and it’s fun to see people who don’t get the point take the bait.

    Is Pres. Obama a red-blooded capitalist or a socialist? He is neither. He is a man in high office who has proposed goals and then proposed solutions to achieve them, and words like “socialist” and “Hitler” can only get in the way of constructive discussion of said proposals.

  11. Javier Gonzalez

    I am in complete agreement of the statements. The great equalizer is our knoledge and not ill informed facts that are spoon fed to people who are too lazy to read the facts. Too bad these are the majority. I am happy their is a place like this that opens a persons mind. This site will be endorsed by me.

  12. rafael

    I checked Mr. Ruiz cite due to his oped in CNN and I feel your oped is not up to par. I agree Obama is no Hitler, but is not the 1st president to be called that and to call everyone who calls him Hitler or socialist a racist is WRONG. It seems that Obama supports always pull the race card out when individuals don’t agree with his world views, let it go. As for your “he no socialist” I would disagree (government ran health care is socialist). Ps if you did not figure it by my name I’m Latino and not a racist

  13. Mary elizabeth Williams

    Just to set the historical record straight, I think we need to remind ourselves that the truly socialist governments contemporaneous with Hitler condemned him for his betrayal of socialist prinicples; the true political identification for Nazism is fascism, and believe me, Obama is not a fascist – but Karl Rove very well may be.

  14. Toni

    To those of you who think the President is a socialist for wanting health care for every American which is what he promised to do as a candidate, please know that you are already paying for it in ways that you are too blind to see. The costs will only become greater if we fail to reform the healthcare industry at this time. The pharmaceutical and health insurance companies are robbing us blind and laughing all the way to the bank. The cigarette industry did the same thing for years until we woke up and said no thanks to lung cancer. We’re still paying for that too.

    To those of you who think the President intends to “propagandize” schools by encouraging kids to do well in school, is simply brainwashed. There is no hope for you.

    The President never set out to change the world, he knows better than that and so should you. Change comes from within. We are better off today than we were nine months ago. If you fail to see and acknowledge that then shame on you. I remember.

  15. Ermilo D

    Speaking for myself,I trust our president until I see evidence to not trust him. I trusted President Bush until we saw how he and people in his administration lied to America. I don’t think President Obama has done anything yet to not trust him. Time will tell. Assuring healthcare for the millions who don’t have or can’t afford doesn’t seem to be that bad an idea. You shouldn’t be so smug just because you have health insurance. More and more people are losing their’s every day. Maybe we should show some compassion for the one’s who are in need. And let’s quit hating our president so much. Alot of people hated and still hate to see Tiger Woods succeed. I wonder what he and our president have in common.

  16. Wanda

    I believe the often quiet intelligence in our country will prevail. It’s impossible to argue with such ignorance. Thank you for your words.

  17. Gary Brown

    Hi I saw Rudy on Sanchez show. I am as disgusted as we all should be even as a Canadian who watches the US news diligently. Lets remember when Health care is being damned as ’socialism’ so too are ambulances, firefighters, police, public educatiion, and the armed forces. Do they want to take all that on for themselves? I am equally shocked at the proponents who cannot clearly say, to each complaint; will I have my own doctor when after it happens?, will we bankrupt the country?, will I have to take medicine decided by some government official? and so on.

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