From the News-Gazette opinion page on Sunday:
Name calling has no legitimate place in public debate. Dismissing people as socialists instead of analyzing the ideas they put forward is a cheap and easy way to avoid meaningful engagement in public discussion of the important issues that face Americans today. All too often, such labeling is the primary response entered in public forums by people who have little understanding of what they are talking about and less interest in learning.
Socialism is typically defined as a theory of social organization in which the means of production, distribution and exchange are owned and regulated by the community as a whole. This definition applies to many of the programs that Americans have long accepted as legitimate features of their lives, such as the public school system, the military, state and federal law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Postal Service, the Veterans Administration, Social Security, Medicare, a host of state and federal retirement systems and all of the state and national parks.
If we accept the definition of a socialist as a person who practices socialism, then anyone who has been a public school teacher, a member of the armed forces, a state or federal law enforcement officer, a postal worker or a recipient of benefits from the Veterans Administration, Social Security, Medicare, or a state or federal retirement system, or who has visited a state or national park is a socialist.
Also, today's Krugman column is especially good, remembering how reasonable even Richard Nixon was compared to today's political climate:
We tend to think of the way things are now, with a huge army of lobbyists permanently camped in the corridors of power, with corporations prepared to unleash misleading ads and organize fake grass-roots protests against any legislation that threatens their bottom line, as the way it always was. But our corporate-cash-dominated system is a relatively recent creation, dating mainly from the late 1970s.
I’m not saying that reformers should give up. They do, however, have to realize what they’re up against. There was a lot of talk last year about how Barack Obama would be a “transformational” president — but true transformation, it turns out, requires a lot more than electing one telegenic leader. Actually turning this country around is going to take years of siege warfare against deeply entrenched interests, defending a deeply dysfunctional political system.