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Do Republicans even know what Socialism is?

A while ago, the Republicans noticed that calling an opponent a “liberal” didn’t quite have the sting it once did, so they decided to simply replace the word “liberal” with the word “socialist”. Seriously.

Unfortunately, I don’t think any of them bothered to look up what socialism means. This led to ironic situations where people like “Joe the Plumber” were calling Obama a socialist because he was going to lower Joe’s taxes (by raising taxes on the rich). But I didn’t think that even Republicans could talk out of both sides of their mouth — applauding and decrying “socialist” policies — simultaneously.

Until now.

Monday, Fox News broadcast Sean Hannity interviewing Sarah Palin. One minute, Palin is bragging about how she increased the size of the check that every resident (man, woman, and child) gets from Alaska’s oil revenues:

Palin: We are the only state with a negative tax rate where we don’t have any income, sales or property tax statewide, and yes we have a share of our oil resource revenue that goes back to the people that own the resources. Imagine that.

Hannity: And it went up higher since you’ve been the governor and you negotiated with the oil companies. That all went up so people get a bigger check.

Palin: There was a corrupt tax system up there and we had a couple of lawmakers end up in jail because of the tax system that was adopted so we cleaned it up and said we wanted a fair and equitable share of the resources that we own, and the people will share in those resource revenues that are derived.

If this isn’t socialism (or at least redistribution of wealth beyond Obama’s wildest dreams) then I don’t know what is. At the time, even Republicans called her a socialist, according to the Alaska blog The Mudflats:

After renegotiating the tax rate with oil companies, and using the gain to hand out $1200 checks to every man, woman and child in the state, some Republicans in Alaska were screeching “Socialism!” and comparing her to Hugo Chavez. All this, of course, was back before Palin became a household name outside Alaska’s borders. Most Alaskans thought this whole plan was just great. There were those on the left and those on the right that disagreed with Palin’s tactics, but it was a good lesson in how to become popular. Hand out cash.

But Hannity doesn’t even notice. In fact, just a few minutes later this in the interview, the other side of their mouths open:

Palin: If Americans aren’t paying attention, unfortunately our country could evolve into something that we do not even recognize. Certainly that is so far from what the founders of our country had in mind for us.

Hannity: Socialism?

Palin: Well… that is where we are headed.

Watch it yourself:



  1. “What the founders of our country had in mind for us?”

    She doesn’t just need a basic course in economics, but in history. What they “had in mind for us” was a system of government–not necessarily any particular system of economics. I believe that the original phrasing was “right to life, liberty, and property.” Had such phrasing remained, then yes, there would have been expectations about future economics.

    Oh, and I thought I read that modern capitalism wasn’t really “born” until post 1787? …

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 10:37 am | Permalink
  2. Freedom wrote:

    “Do Republicans even know what Socialism is?”

    The question should be “Do Leftist Liberals even know that the USA is a REPUBLIC!”

    I dont mind what they label you, Socialist, commie, marxist, leftist…. The US was built on none of these values.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 1:46 pm | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    Sigh, I think the popularity of this post is bringing out the loonies. I already had to delete one comment. I’ll leave up the comment by Freedom, since he read the post enough to quote the title, but I’m not sure what his comment has to do with anything. But to answer his question, most “Leftist Liberals” I know definitely know that the USA is a Republic. You know it everything you vote for a “REPresentative”.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 2:03 pm | Permalink
  4. starluna wrote:

    Trying to understand this makes my head hurt.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 2:37 pm | Permalink
  5. Tristan wrote:


    Yes I know what a “REPUBLIC” is – a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them … I fail to see how that has anything to with the article above as by definition is has nothing to do with economics but with how political system elects if officials.

    On another note, your post is devoid of any intelligence and is basically the equivalent of a cave man throwing a throwing a stone at something he doesn’t comprehend. This article had nothing to do with the USA being a Republic but rather the idea that Palin isn’t aware of the glaring contradiction in “talking points” vs. her real actions.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Permalink
  6. Scott wrote:

    I’m a bit confused. I followed the link to the definition, and it seems that redistribution of wealth through progressive income tax would in fact be a step towards socialism-“A theory or system of social reform which contemplates a complete reconstruction of society, with a MORE JUST AND EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF PROPERTY and labor”. Joe the plumber would be correct in calling this socialistic, whether or not he is the beneficiary, since the aim is to take money from people who have too much and give it to other more “deserving” members of society. The government of Alaska owning the oil and distributing the proceeds as it sees fit would also qualify as socialism. Just because a republican (which I am not) gets a tax break or benefits from collective ownership of a natural resource does preclude the possibility that the outcome is a socialistic one. So what you’re saying is that even a scary right wing radical like Palin believes in SOME socialist principles? That would mean that socialist ideas have become more acceptable in the US. so why try to hide that fact? Fabian Socialism would advocate moving towards a more radical reconstruction of society in little baby steps, like boiling a frog, both in order to minimize shocks to society, and to subtly camouflage the underlying socialist agenda. A “hundred year plan” instead of a “five year plan”, perhaps. I believe your intent is to poke fun at the “right wing loonies” who see socialism under every rock. But the truth is we’ve been glacially moving in this direction since the New Deal. Anyone in Europe would recognize our form of government as moderately socialist, less so than theirs, but moving in that direction, with fits and starts. The difference is that in America, you have to pretend that leftist liberalism has NOTHING TO DO with socialism. Why? Why not admit that the more power government has over our lives, even if it’s “for a good cause”, the closer we move towards a socialistic system, and then have a debate on whether this is a better system than a free market, classical liberal form of government.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Permalink
  7. Iron Knee wrote:

    Scott I appreciate what you are trying to say. I really do. But the point of this post was the hypocrisy of people like Palin, who throw around labels like “socialist” when they themselves are guilty of doing things that are socialist and being proud of it. And being able to do it over the space of mere minutes is breathtaking.

    There are LOTS of things in the US that are socialist in nature. The military, for example (which is strongly supported by most conservatives, especially neocons — if there are any of those remaining). Another example is police and prisons (another thing supported by law-and-order conservatives! Have we spotted a trend here?).

    But that’s not the point of this post, which is probably why you are confused.

    And as an aside, I disagree with your claim that the US has been steadily moving toward socialism since the New Deal. I think it went the other way since Reagan took office — including Clinton, and both Bushes, although Bush II was more “national socialism” (fascism) than socialism.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 5:29 pm | Permalink
  8. Techasaurus wrote:

    Okay, well I have a few things to say. First of all, these political games and back-and-forth arguing between elephants and asses has been long played out and needs to stop.

    No, the majority of main-stream, FOX News blinded “Christian” Republicans do not know what Socialism is. And obviously, neither do our angry and often idiotic liberals.

    Socialism is not evil in any way, shape or form and our Founding Fathers did not intend our country to be any certain economic system. They intended on our country being free and EQUAL. EQUAL is the key word here as it is what Socialism is all about.

    Also, Socialism is NOT expansion of federal government to beyond belief (but rather a set of restrictions held against any man, woman, or group of people rising up to financially dominate the entire nation which has already, unfortunately, happened in our “land of the free”). THIS is totalitarianism/authoritarianism and NEEDS TO BE STOPPED NOW.
    Please help us END THE FED.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 9:50 pm | Permalink
  9. starluna wrote:

    Just a couple of observations:

    Analogizing a movement towards socialism (or anything purported to be similar) with “boiling a frog” is an interesting choice of words. I can’t say that I agree with what the analogy implies.

    I also want to point out that the white supremacist who shot up and killed a guard at the Holocaust Museum this week tried to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board in 1981. He explained that he was trying to make a citizen’s arrest — with a shotgun and claiming to have a bomb.

    In addition, the terrorist who murdered Dr. Tiller was also associated with the Montana Freeman who believe, among other things, that the Federal Reserve and the banking system in general, was a tool of a totalitarian government.

    Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

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