As the “supermajority” dies, so passes another hallmark of the past two years: the idea that the Obama administration, or its policies, resemble anything an educated person would call “socialism.”
Words have meaning, and the word “socialism” carries a weighty and meaningful past. Cornered on this point, most debates about whether the Democrats have embraced “socialism,” at least between informed parties, collapses to this point: if socialism is state ownership of the means of production, doesn’t the acquisition of General Motors count as exactly that?
No, because “socializing” an industry on an emergency, temporary basis is not the same as public ownership as a way of life. Several presidents have “socialized” industries on an emergency basis: in fact, Truman’s attempt to nationalize the steel mills, and the Supreme Court’s stinging rebuke for the same, gave us the best description to date of the limits of presidential power. But no-one calls President Truman a “socialist.” So unless General Motors is to be a permanent property of the American government, Obama does nothing but join the legion of other American politicians who have advocated, attempted to, and succeeded in acquiring private property on a short-term basis, to avoid massive public harm.
A report last week resolves the question conclusively: General Motors will hold an offering to first dilute (and, probably, ultimately liquidate) the government’s share in the company. As the factual basis for the claim disappears, we should expect the narrative to cease, as well. But this has never been about facts, or logic. It’s about using scary words to distort commonplace occurrences out of all recognition, to drive swing voters to a discredited party. a