Sarah Palin, Socialist?

Hendrik Hertzberg has discussed the attacks against Obama in which he is falsely accused of being a socialist. He concludes (emphasis mine):

For her part, Sarah Palin, who has lately taken to calling Obama “Barack the Wealth Spreader,” seems to be something of a suspect character herself. She is, at the very least, a fellow-traveller of what might be called socialism with an Alaskan face. The state that she governs has no income or sales tax. Instead, it imposes huge levies on the oil companies that lease its oil fields. The proceeds finance the government’s activities and enable it to issue a four-figure annual check to every man, woman, and child in the state. One of the reasons Palin has been a popular governor is that she added an extra twelve hundred dollars to this year’s check, bringing the per-person total to $3,269. A few weeks before she was nominated for Vice-President, she told a visiting journalist—Philip Gourevitch, of this magazine—that “we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.” Perhaps there is some meaningful distinction between spreading the wealth and sharing it (“collectively,” no less), but finding it would require the analytic skills of Karl the Marxist.

I’m not really going to say that Sarah Palin is a socialist, but a much stronger case can be made for calling Palin a socialist than Obama. The attacks on Obama are primarily based upon minor increases in the marginal tax rate. While tax rates are a valid campaign issue, supporting slightly higher marginal rates on those making over $250,000 per year is hardly socialism.

Rather than being based upon tax rates, socialism is defined by government ownership of the means of production. Palin is only speaking of one segment of Alaska when she refers to Alaskans owning the resources and is not really a socialist, but she sure sounded a lot more like a socialist than the guy she attacks as being a socialist.

This quote is far more incriminating that the old Obama interview from 2001 which many right wing bloggers, followed by the McCain campaign, distorted yesterday. What this really shows is that finding a quote with a few juicy words means nothing. It doesn’t mean Obama is a socialist because he used words like redistribution in an interview any more than it means Sarah Palin is a socialist because she spoke of collectively owning resources.


  1. 1
    Andrew Graham says:

    While this is laughable, it’s hardly surprising. “Accuse your opponent of your own weakness” seems to be a Republican mantra in this cycle.

  2. 2
    Angellight says:

    Republicans try to paint Barack Obama as someone to fear, someone not ready.  Yet respected Spiritual leaders from different faiths and persuasions have come together as a group to write a letter and endorse Barack Obama as a true leader for these tumultuous times.
    “As spiritual leaders signing this letter we are stepping forward to say: “We can make a difference” As our spiritual practice empties, opens and strengthens us, we are naturally moved to engage in the world with compassion, equanimity, and the dedication to live our values.  We know many of you are already both concerned and involved in this year’s Presidential election. Yet, in the past weeks, many of us have heard friends in the spiritual community expressing ambivalence about voting. When asked why they wouldn’t vote we heard things like: “It doesn’t make any difference”; “I’m more interested in spiritual practice than politics”.
    This election, we have an opportunity to create a paradigm shift in the nature of politics. Senator McCain has voted with President Bush over 90% of the time leading to policies that have increased violence the world, furthered environmental destruction, tried to force religious views on the country, and shown a staggering lack of compassion for those most in need.
    Play a role in bringing peace and justice back to the planet by voting for Barack Obama. 
    If you allow yourself to envision the world as it could be rather than the world as it is, what would it look like? And more importantly, what would you be willing to do to help create that world?
    Deepak Chopra, Jack Kornfield, Lama Surya Das. Jean Houston, Jack Kornfield, Reggie Ray, Reb Zalman Shachter-Shalomi, Seane Corn, Cyndi Lee, Jack Canfield, Shiva Rea, Pema Chödrön, Marianne Williamson, Barbara De Angelis, Roshi Joan Halifax, Joan Borysenko, Krishna Das, Sharon Salzberg, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Stephan Rechtschaffen, Judith Ansara Gass, Robert Gass —  and more every day!
    Americans all accross this country realize we need fundamental change, radical change, if we are to survive and thrive as a country.  Barack Obama has brought many people together, such as Republicans who have never voted for Democrats, Newspapers who usually endorse Republicans, Generals, world leaders and a whole host of people, yound and old, gay and straight, and of all racial persuasions who realize that we have an opportunity in this great leader to fundamentally bring about positive and holistic change, not jusst for America but the world.  Barack Obama has shown us through his words, actions and deeds, that we do not have to run a campaign through lies, deceit and deceptions.  That you do not have to tear an opponent down or dislike him because he disagrees with you.  He has elevated this political areana and ourselves, that we can be better and do better.  He offers hope and inspiration, something which has been lacking in American culture for awhile.  He asks us to overcome our differences and to unite for a common cause, and for the good of this nation.  He asks to choose love over hate, unity over diversity, and sharing over greed.

  3. 3
    Leonna says:

    Finally renewed faith in mankind that their is hope for a better future. From the very first moment I listened and saw Barack Obama speak; I said there is our next president. Others may tear him down regarding his ties to unfavorable people; I find he has much charactor. Its difficult at times to be amongst those whom you differ in opinion. I am a Democrat and am married to a Republican. Barack Obama’s grace and humility is obvious when he speaks, his ability to know others less favorable in our society is an attribute to him. Our country needs Barak Obama as Commander and Chief. Then hopefully as a nation we will regain favor the world over. And start working towards peace.
    May you always be blessed.

  4. 4
    Carlos Navarro says:

    Educationally disadvantaged types like Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber and their vociferous adherents can’t be expected to know the true meaning of the word socialism.  To them, socialism is synonymous with anti-American, treason, tyranny, Arab, Muslim, Godlessness, evil or whatever else they imagine it to be.  But surely John McCain and his better informed surrogates must know that the governments of our closest allies—Britain, Canada, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Holland and Israel, to name some—all have well-entrenched socialistic components, like universal health care and retirement plans.  And aren’t our own Social Security, Medicare, NASA, National Park Service and mighty Armed
    Forces all government-funded socialistic programs?  And how about Sarah Palin’s proposed $45 billion program for special-needs children?  Isn’t that pure socialism? 
    The “vulgarization” of American politics, as noted by Peggy Noonan, would be more aptly described as rabble ignorance.   

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