The New Red Scare

Having run out of ideas, the right wing has returned to McCarthyism and has tried to revive red scares. We saw this during the campaign when they distorted comments made by Barack Obama to falsely claim he supported redistribution of wealth in a Marxist sense. This fictitious use of the red scare was prevalent at CPAP as reported by The New York Times:

Conservatives might be seeking a spiritual leader, organizing principle and fresh identity, but they at least seem to have settled on a favorite rhetorical ogre: socialism.

As in, Democrats are intent on forcing socialism on the “U.S.S.A” (as the bumper sticker says, under the words “Comrade Obama”).

It seems that “socialist” has supplanted “liberal” as the go-to slur among much of a conservative world confronting a one-two-three punch of bank bailouts, budget blowouts and stimulus bills. Right-leaning bloggers and talk radio hosts are wearing out the brickbat. Senate and House Republicans have been tripping over their podiums to invoke it. The S-bomb has become as surefire a red-meat line at conservative gatherings as “Clinton” was in the 1990s and “Pelosi” is today.

“Earlier this week, we heard the world’s best salesman of socialism address the nation,” Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, said on Friday, referring, naturally, to a certain socialist in chief.

Former Gov. Mike Huckabeeof Arkansas decried the creation of “socialist republics” in the United States. “Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff,” Mr. Huckabee said, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference here over the weekend, a kind of Woodstock for young conservatives.

“Socialism is something new for us to hit Obama over the head with,” said Joshua Bolin of Augusta, Ga., who founded a Web site, “,” which he calls a conservative analog to the liberal

Of course, there is nothing remotely new about “socialism,” or the willingness of conservatives to hit the opposition over the head with the term, just as the name callers among the liberals have bludgeoned conservatives as “fascists,” “fundamentalists” and “plutocrats” and whatnot for decades.

But the socialist bogey-mantra has made a full-scale return after a long stretch of relative dormancy.

The contemporary era of socialist demonizing dates to the general election campaign between Mr. Obama and John McCain. Mr. McCain and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, repeatedly accused Mr. Obama of wanting to “spread the wealth,” an offshoot of Mr. Obama’s caught-on-tape exchange with an Ohio plumber (i.e. “Joe the,” last seen signing copies of his new book at CPAC).

“Socialism” became a star of subsequent McCain and Palin rallies in the same way that a dead bull is the star of a bullfight — an object of slings, spears and overall bloodlust.

The early fiscal activism of President Obamahas provided a heap of new fodder for anti-socialists, effectively turning a useful label meant to inspire fear into a we-told-you-so taunt. Last week’s blizzard of economic developments — the administration’s new budget, its partial takeover of another major bank — was fortuitous timing for CPAC, which ran from Thursday to Saturday, giving conservatives an opportunity to give full-throated voice to this re-fashioned refrain.

“The right would use ‘socialist’ against Franklin Rooseveltall the time in the 1930s,” said Charles Geisst, a financial historian at Manhattan Collegein the Bronx. “To hear him referred to as Comrade Roosevelt during that period was not unusual.” But while socialism is being invoked repeatedly now, Mr. Geisst said, it is a less potent slam than it once was.

As the article also points out, there is exactly one actual socialist in Congress. When the Democrats actually talk about government ownership of the means of production, we can begin to talk about socialism. Republicans have hardly been defenders of a free market system. The reality is that the economic policies of the Republicans are far closer to economic  fascism than Democratic proposals are to socialism.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    nomoreGOP says:

    Just more of the same.. the same lies and misconceptions magnified over and over again by politicians who should know better.. the vile that used to spew out of that Sarah Palin character during her hate-mongering run for VP (i.e., about “not trusting” Obama and saying he palled around with terrorists was just plain over the line). There are crazy bastards out there that take what these people say seriously.. The degree as to how badly the Republicans want Obama to fail is disgusting. Party over country? Seriously? Just gross.

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