The right’s spurious accusations of “socialism” in the Obama administration probably find their most purchase — which still isn’t much — when discussing the administration’s brokered bankruptcy of General Motors, which eventually ended with the government owning 60% of the company’s stock. Ahah! Socialism! State ownership of the means of production!
Except, no: as explained earlier, temporary nationalization of embattled companies, to serve the state or save the industry, is something of an American tradition, and one that knows no party, and no ideology.
Further, the executive branch’s temporary ownership of GM yesterday proved its temporary nature — while GM still posted substantial losses, its losses weren’t as bad as expected, and the company will begin repaying its debt to the American public. Here’s a secondary danger to conservatives seeking to demonize Obama as a “socialist.” Set aside concerns for intellectual honesty: by muddying the definition, should so-called-“socialism” continue to succeed, there’s a real risk that conservatives will make “socialism”-in-fact palatable. Brace for epic — and universally undesirable — backfiring.