In search of the perfect slur:
New spring fashion for GOP sliming:
From ‘socialist’ to ‘fascist’
By Roger Bybee
Barack Obama’s modestly liberal campaign–which veered from populist anti-globalization rhetoric outside a General Motors plant in Wisconsin to tepid acceptance of "free markets" in interviews–nonetheless provoked outraged accusations of "socialism" from an increasingly Far-Right Republican Party dominated by the values of the Southern slavocracy, Christian fundamentalists, and advocates of brass-knuckled capitalism found in the oil industry.
Since Obama’s strong election victory and an overwhelming Democratic tide in the House and Senate, most Republican leaders have only stepped up the anti-"socialist" rhetoric despite Obama’s unusually high approval ratings. Along with the attacks on "socialism"–which apparently translates in Republicans to any show of compassion–we have also witnessed witless claims by the likes of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan that Franklin Delano Roosevelt pursued "mistaken policies" during the New Deal.
I’ll wager that the more than 30,000 unemployed in Ryan’s district would love to see Obama more fully embrace FDR’s bolder "mistaken policies," which reduced unemployment from a catastrophic 25% to just under 10% by 1936.
But one leading Republican leader figures that the anti-"socialist" rhetoric has failed to resonate, and that a more potent political slur must be hauled out:
. "Rhetorically, Republicans are having a very hard time finding something that raises the consciousness of the average voter,” said Saul Anuzis, a former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party who recently lost a bid to became national party chairman, reported the New York Times April 20, 2009.
"Workaday labels like ‘big spender’ and ‘liberal’ have lost their punch, and last fall, Senator John McCain of Arizona and Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska gained little traction during the presidential campaign by linking Mr. Obama’s agenda to socialism," the Times noted..
"So Mr. Anuzis has turned to provocation with a purpose. He calls the president’s domestic agenda ‘economic fascism.’”
“We’ve so overused the word ‘socialism’ that it no longer has the negative connotation it had 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago,” Mr. Anuzis said. “Fascism — everybody still thinks that’s a bad thing.”
The ugly equation of Obama’s modest reforms with the barbarism of genuine fascists like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini–not to mention the long line of fascist leaders backed by the US government (Augusto Pinochet in Chile, the military juntas in Argentina and Brazil, the Shah of Iran, to name but a few) –is revealingly seen by the Republicans as just one more rhetorical ploy. Apparently, nothing is too despicable to be out of bounds for the GOP these days.
But one aspect of Azunis’s strategy is worthy of comment: the fact that socialism "no longer has the negative connotation it did 20 years ago." While Azunis attributes this to simple over-use of the term, another possibility is that many Americans feel a vague but powerful hunger for a different kind of society not tyrannized by rapacious corporations. I’m not suggesting that
While the richest 1% has prospered through its domination of the hollowed-out democratic process, the vast majority of Americans have lost any meaningful democratic voice and lead lives driven by insecurity about their jobs going to