Jonah Goldberg

The government effectively owns General Motors and controls Chrysler, and the president is deciding what kind of cars they can make. Uncle Sam owns majority stakes in American International Group, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and controls large chunks of the banking industry. Also, President Obama wants government to take over the business of student loans. And he's pushing for nationalized health care. Meanwhile, his Environmental Protection Agency has ruled that it reserves the right to regulate any economic activity that has a "carbon footprint." Just last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said climate change requires that "every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory." Rep. Barney Frank, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, has his eye on regulating executive pay.

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Of course, nationalization of industry is only one kind of socialism; another approach is to simply redistribute the nation's income as economic planners see fit. But wait, Obama believes in that, too. That's why he said during the campaign that he wants to "spread the wealth" and that's why he did exactly that when he got elected. (He spread the debt, too.)

And yet, for conservatives to suggest in any way, shape or form that there's something "socialistic" about any of this is the cause of knee-slapping hilarity for liberal pundits and bloggers everywhere.

For instance, last month the Republican National Committee considered a resolution calling on the Democratic Party to rename itself the "Democrat Socialist Party." The resolution was killed by RNC Chairman Michael Steele in favor of the supposedly milder condemnation of the Democrats' "march toward socialism."

THE HOPE FOR SOCIALISM

The whole spectacle was just too funny for liberal observers. Robert Schlesinger, U.S. News & World Report's opinion editor, was a typical giggler. He chortled, "What's really both funny and scary about all of this is how seriously the fringe-nuts in the GOP take it."

Putting aside the funny and scary notion that it's "funny and scary" for political professionals to take weighty political issues seriously, there are some fundamental problems with all of this disdain. For starters, why do liberals routinely suggest, even hope, that Obama and the Democrats are leading us into an age of socialism, or social democracy or democratic socialism? (One source of confusion is that these terms are routinely used interchangeably.)


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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