The other day, the New York Times published an op-ed column by movie director Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) in which Forman scoffs at the idea that Obama is a “socialist.” The socialism charge has been made quite a lot since Obama campaigned for and won the presidency, a charge which never fails to provoke scorn and ridicule from liberals.
But the controversy makes me think of a letter George Orwell wrote near the end of his life in answer to a question concerning the source of his inspiration for the novel 1984. Orwell answered that he got the idea while working with left-wing intellectuals at the BBC during World War II. The society depicted in 1984 is the kind of society that his BBC colleagues would create, Orwell said, if they ever were able to acquire total power.
But of course, they were not able to acquire such power in a democratic country like Britain, a source of much frustration for them. Although they did come close before Margaret Thatcher pulled Britain back from the abyss.
Which brings me to Obama: Yes, he is a socialist. The only difference between Obama and the “socialist” dictator Milos Forman lived under is Obama is prevented by the U.S. Constitution from having it all his way. And he clearly finds this frustrating.
Many have reported that Obama is detached and unwilling to engage in the give-and-take of politics. He feels that he knows best and that his critics should defer to his superior judgment.
Take the Affordable Care Act. Clearly, Obama wanted a “single payer” socialist health care law, but he knew he could not get the votes for that, despite having control of both houses of Congress and a sixty vote majority in the Senate. So he then insisted on a “public option,” but the votes were not there for that either.
Obama certainly views the Obamacare law as a major step towards the ultimate leftist dream of a single payer system, a dream he would make come true right now if only he had the power.
Similarly, Congress would not pass the so-called Dream Act, so Obama proclaimed it as a directive of the Department of Homeland Security. As Obama likes to say, he “can’t wait.”
So yes, Milos, Obama is a socialist, but unlike in Communist Czechoslovakia, he is contstrained by the Constitution and ultimately the voters.