August 25, 2009

In an interview with Philadelphia-based radio host Michael Smerconish, President Obama said the following about critics who called his healthcare proposal “socialist:” “FDR was called a socialist when he passed Social Security. JFK and Lyndon Johnson – they were both accused of a government takeover of health care when they passed Medicare. This is the process that we go through, because understandably the American people have a long tradition of being suspicious of government until the government actually does something that helps them.”

Obama is right. What we often call “socialism” is simply the same old welfare state most Americans have come to accept as their birthright.

For the Left, national healthcare is simply the next step in the U.S. finally joining the more “progressive” Europe, Canada and other Western nations. Given Americans’ longstanding comfort with the vast welfare state constructed by FDR, LBJ and others, the Democrats’ perspective on healthcare doesn’t seem the least bit irresponsible or even extreme, as Obama points out. For liberals, that the U.S. has even taken this long in implementing a national healthcare program is proof positive of American backwardness.

But the U.S. is not and cannot be Europe. Not because our current socialism is necessarily unsuccessful or even because the American people won’t tolerate it. We can’t afford it.

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