Obama The Socialist? If Only!

Nicole Sandler speaks with one of the editors of the new book "Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA"

No, not the RWNJ uninformed idea of what socialism is (apparently interchangeable with communism, fascism, nazi-ism, etc) with no basis in fact.

After yesterday's discussion with Jesse Myerson about his communist manifesto of sorts (according to the same RWNJ who say Socialism=Fascism), I was delighted to welcome to today's show Michael Steven Smith, one of the editors of a new collection of essays and articles, Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA.

I have no illusions that this country will embrace socialism in my lifetime. The only socialist in Congress is Senator Bernie Sanders, but he's always labelled an Independent from Vermont instead of as a Democratic Socialist, which is how he identifies himself.

He wrote eloquently on the subject for Huffington Post back in 2009. I encourage clicking over and reading the whole thing, but offer these takeaway points:

Representative Spencer Bachus is one of the only people I know from Alabama. I bet I'm the only socialist he knows. I'm certainly the only one the congressman from Birmingham could name after darkly claiming that there are 17 socialists lurking in the House of Representatives.

I doubt that there are any other socialists, let alone 17 more, in all of the Congress. I also respectfully doubt that Spencer Bachus understands much about democratic socialism. I hope this is an opportunity to shed some light on a viewpoint that deserves more attention throughout America and in our capital. ...

I think this country could use a good debate about what goes on here compared to places with a long social-democratic tradition like Sweden, Norway and Finland, where, by and large, the middle class has a far higher standard of living than we do. ...

Finland is a country which provides high-quality health care to all of its people with virtually no out-of-pocket expense; where parents and their young children receive free excellent childcare and/or parental leave benefits which dwarf what our nation provides; where college and graduate education is free to students and where children in the public school system often record the highest results in international tests. In Finland, where 80 percent of workers belong to unions, all employees enjoy at least 30 days paid vacation and the gap between the rich and poor is far more equitable than in the United States.


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Wow. That socialism stuff sounds pretty good! B-b-but I thought capitalism was the only way for a democratic society? How's that working out for us?

Despite all the rhetoric about "family values," workers in the United States now work the longest hours of any people in a major country. Our health care system is disintegrating. At last count, 47 million Americans had no health insurance while we spend twice as much per capita on health care as any other nation.

We have the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world. Our childcare system is totally inadequate. Too many of our kids drop out of school, and college is increasingly unaffordable. One of the results of how we neglect many of our children is that we end up with more people in jails and prisons than any other country on earth. There is a correlation between the highest rate of childhood poverty and the highest rate of incarceration.

Perhaps it is time to explore all the options, without all the name calling. We need a movement to remove the stigma from the word "socialism." Let's begin with a list of some famous American socialists. Among them are

Maybe they're on to something... and maybe those who insist on proclaiming that Obama is a socialist dictator including Congressman (!) Randy Weber of Texas (who tweeted out the following before the State of the Union) should try reading the book and learn a thing or two.

Then again, with all the cuts to public education made in the name of capitalism, they probably don't know how to read.

Certainly, being one of the 1% doesn't mean you're smart. On The Daily Show this week, Samantha Bee proved that point in a segment called "Wage Against the Machine" with the wealthy, but really fucking stupid Peter Schiff.

On the show today

Amy Simon of She's History gave us a bit more background on the fight for reproductive rights, 41 years post Roe v Wade, and the film that all anti-choice people should see, After Tiller.

And Julianna Forlano joined in to riff on some of the news I didn't get to this week, and give her thoughts on the State of the Union, after the newest episode of Absurdity Today

The Nicole Sandler Show is live Monday through Thursday mornings, 10-noon ET, and podcast afterwards at RadioOrNot.com

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