President Obama – What Full-throated Liberalism Looks Like

President Obama – What Full-throated Liberalism Looks Like


Walter D. (Wally) Wilkerson, Jr., MD

Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman

August 2010


In the May/June issue of IMPRIMIS, a publication of Hillsdale College in Michigan, Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College, Chester R. Kesler, wrote the following about President Obama:

“To unsuspecting conservatives who had forgotten or never known what full-throated liberalism looked like before the Age of Reagan, Obama’s eruption onto the scene came as a shock. And in some respects, obviously, he is a new political phenomenon. But in most respects, Obama does not represent something new under the sun. On the contrary, he embodies a rejuvenated and repackaged version of something older than our grandmothers- namely the intellectual and social impulses behind modern liberalism.”

The internet and print media are filled with comparisons of Obama’s agenda to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s. Some writers and talk show hosts have suggested that he is promoting socialism. He, like Roosevelt, has surrounded himself by advisors with a socialist and even communist background. Roosevelt’s Secretary of Agriculture, Henry Wallace, became a candidate for President on the Communist Party ticket. Van Jones, an admitted member of the Communist Party, was appointed Green Jobs Czar by Obama. Obama longs to be another FDR and build a New, New Deal for the 21st century. He has a grand strategy to “remake America”.

Is it a strategy for remaking America dominated by big government and tax and spend liberalism or is it a strategy for socialism or some other form of government? Maybe only Obama knows the answer to this vital question. For every citizen a review of the meaning of socialism and other forms of government would be helpful in making their own judgment about this question.

Socialism is a system of public (government) ownership and management of the means of production and distribution of goods. The word socialism was first used in Great Britain and France in the 1800s. There were to be many varieties of socialism in both countries, most of which recognized religion as a part of society. Early socialists like Robert Owen of Britain believed in a doctrine that social behavior of mankind was made for them and not by them. It was therefore a product of environment and education and could be changed by improving these. Ultimately the movement resulted in trade unions and villages of cooperation. Christian socialists promoted working associations and founded colleges. In France socialism stood for public ownership of business combined with workers control of industry and a democratic parliamentary system.

Communism was founded in 1847 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels of Germany who formulated their essential ideas of a moralist utopian society based on common ownership of property and an equal distribution of income and wealth. Marx did not find a basis for the communist movement in religion or ethics but rather in the changing of the economic structure as the foundation of social life. In the early 1900s communism developed in Russia as a transformation from the socialist movement. The communists resorted to violent revolution in order to crush all opposition and establish a dictatorship of the working class. As a general rule, socialists (social democracy) attempt to capture an existing state by democratic methods while communists (revolutionary socialists) seek to destroy, by violence if necessary, the existing state and build a new one through a dictatorship.

Fascism is the name of a political stance that puts a nation or a race, its power and growth, in the center of life and history of people. Individual rights are disregarded to the exclusive interest of a nation or race. The word is derived from the Latin fasces, “bundles”, signifying in ancient Rome a bundle of rods with an axe, a symbol of authority. The name was first used by Benito Mussolini in Italy in 1919. Fascism can be regarded as an escape from a democratic system of government with its individual responsibility and decisions.

Capitalism refers to an economic system dominant in the western world that dates back to the 16th century and is based on the relationships between private owners of the means of production (capitalists) and workers who are free to sell their labor services to the owners. Decisions concerning production are made by the owners. Workers cannot legally be compelled to work for the owners. Wage bargains between workers and owners determine the proportion of the product that will be shared between them.

Article IV, Section IV of the U. S. Constitution “guarantees to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government”. In a pure democracy the majority rules with little or no protection to the rights of the minority. Contrast that with a republic where the general population elects representatives who pass laws. The nation is governed by the rule of law and not what the majority desires at any given moment. The Founding Fathers felt a democracy would be “unstable, fluctuating and short-lived” (John Quincy Adams). Noah Webster said: “In democracy…there are commonly tumults and disorders… Therefore a pure democracy is generally a very bad government.”