What is the best way to convince people to vote for a party and its leader in spite of the fact that both are morally bankrupt? The answer – create irrational fear of the other guy. Tom Kincaid’s recent letter is a classic example, using the Republicans’ favorite scare word – “socialism.”

Is socialism really a bad word? That is certainly what Mr. Kincaid wants you to believe. In the minds of most conservatives, the most insulting words they can spit out at a person are “liberal” and “socialist.”

But here’s the thing, at least in my opinion. All governments are socialistic to some degree. If the government (instead of private enterprise) provides goods or services to the public, that is socialism. That means police, public schools, the military, fire departments, NASA, etc. are all socialistic enterprises. I wonder if Mr. Kincaid, as a matter of principle, has declined to take advantage of social security or medicare, both programs that by any definition are socialistic, well-liked, and critical to the well-being of our citizenry.

While it’s reasonable to argue about what programs/activities are better operated by the government rather than private enterprise, using ‘socialism’ as a hate word is just plain dishonest. Unfortunately, it is also very effective at creating fear among uninformed voters so I’m sure its use will continue.

I hope my comments are not misconstrued as an attack on capitalism, which when regulated properly is the system proven to be the most conducive to inventiveness and economic growth. I am just pointing out that our economic system is a hybrid of capitalism and socialism. Socialism brings compassion for our fellow man into the mix, and we should value that contribution, not vilify it.

While I’m at it, my definition of a liberal is a person who advocates for change in order to make things better. A conservative IMO is a person who generally opposes change, embraces the status quo, and sometimes even wants to turn back the clock. So if you call me a liberal, I will take that as a compliment. 

Frank Butcher


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