I’m not sure what to make of the recent Esquire magazine poll that showed 78 percent of "Republican leaders" think President Barack Obama is a socialist.
My guess is the GOP brass is posturing for political gain. Brian P. Moore agrees.
“The Republicans really don’t believe he’s a socialist,” he said. “They just know calling him one gives them an edge and puts the Democrats on the defensive.”
The s-word doesn’t scare Moore . The 66-year-old Floridian ran for president on the Socialist Party USA ticket in 2008.
“Calling Obama a ‘socialist’ is an insult to socialists,” he said. “It’s more than an easy sound bite, it’s an outright lie. The fact that anybody can utter, with a straight face,‘ President Obama’ and ‘socialist’ in the same sentence is simply beyond my comprehension.”
Moore insists neither the president nor his party is even close to socialistic. “Obama and the Democrats support a free market economy and for-profit corporations,” said Moore who has stuck up for socialism on the Colbert Report and even Fox News. “They support capitalism, which rewards the few at the expense of the many.”
Obama and the Democrats doubtless would disagree that they favor rich people over poor people. But they probably would “amen” Moore’s charge that Republicans are guilty of Cold War-style “red-baiting” and “fear mongering” when they diss Democrats as “socialists.”
"Historically, socialism has been a working class movement. Thus, wealthy conservatives and their political allies try hard to convince working stiffs that socialism is the same thing as communism," Moore said.
“The GOP's entire appeal is aimed at the least informed segment of the American population — the kind of people that buy into that sort of name-calling nonsense,” added Moore, who lives in Spring Hill, near Tampa . “Calling Obama and the Democrats ‘socialists’ is another ‘civilized’ way for the accusers to get into the gutter without being seen as such.”
Moore also suspects the “Obama’s-a-socialist” slur is subtly racist. Most Republicans are conservative white folks, especially in the Red State South, a big part of the GOP’s base.
No doubt, the Republican brass would bristle at the racism charge. They’d be quick to point out that Michael Steele, the Republican National Committee chairman, is black.
But if Moore ’s right, there’s precedent for GOP bigwigs using “socialist” to mask racial prejudice. In the 1950s and 1960s, white supremacist Southern Democrats -- ancestors of many Republicans in the old Confederacy – equated federally-mandated integration with socialism and even communism.
Segregationists skewered the Supreme Court as “socialist” and “communist” for outlawing school segregation. They similarly slammed Congress for passing sweeping civil rights bills that overturned Jim Crow laws and put ballots into black hands.
White supremacists claimed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders were “socialists” or “communist agitators.”
“Conservatives still consider ‘socialism’ to be an all-encompassing evil word,” Moore explained. Thus, tagging Obama a “socialist” enables covertly racist conservatives to “to get away with bigotry,” he added.
Anyway, millions of people in other democratic nations – including our North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies -- don’t think “socialist” is a dirty word. They routinely vote democratic socialist or social democratic parties into power. (Such parties hold the most seats in the British, Greek, Norwegian, Portuguese and Spanish parliaments. All five countries are in NATO.)
America is the only industrial democracy without a mainstream democratic socialist or social democratic party. Elsewhere, the Democrats would be centrist or center-right. (Today’s Tea Bagger-friendly GOP would be far to the right of other conservative parties, even Britain ’s Tory Party.)
Meanwhile, Moore wonders if the Republicans who trash Obama as a “socialist” are helping the socialist cause, however unwittingly. “There is so much talk about socialism that efforts at educating people about what socialism really is may be easier now and in the future,” he said.
Moore looked into socialism after conservatives started calling him a socialist. He liked what he found and signed up for the Socialist Party USA.
A lot of Americans might not go for the socialism Moore preaches. But if they examine the record, they’ll discover it’s not totalitarian communism.
Most importantly, socialists like Moore seek change only through the ballot and the democratic process, not via the bullet, repression and bloody revolution. Communists used all three to gain and keep power in places like the old U.S.S.R, China and North Korea .
The Socialist Party USA, according to Moore , “seeks a classless society – one that is fairer and more egalitarian, one where the majority of citizens can benefit from a more democratic economic system, instead of a system that rewards only the select few at the top.”
Moore knows winning many stateside hearts and minds to socialism is a long slog up a steep hill. He only polled 6,528 votes for president. But he insists he’s in the fight for the duration.
He invites even skeptics to check out his Internet website. You can email him from the site.