Socialist – perhaps the worst word in America today.  Socialism is seen as this evil thing.  The communists in Russia and China were all socialists.  The word brings to mind marching armies, spies, and poverty.  We remember the cold war, the Berlin wall, and people burning money for heat.  If you want to win an argument on TV, just call someone a socialist, and the crowd will love you.


Many people call Obama a socialist.  There are creepy images of him juxtaposed with Hitler or Carl Marx.  Protesters with signs that say, “Obama = Socialism = Evil”.  It’s as if he is some sort of evil mad man trying to rule the world.


But I don’t think he’s evil.  And I don’t think socialists are evil.  They just want what’s best for everyone.  They want to help everyone.  It’s kind of like a progressive.


“Progressive” has to be the best word in American politics today.  Call someone a progressive, and it’s seen as a great compliment.  Like they are for progress.  You hear someone say, “Oh have you met so and so?  Yeah, she’s so hip and cool and progressive.”  It’s like a smart, sexy, in-the-know attitude to be progressive.  It’s like you are a vegetarian, you care about the environment, and poor people.  You want everybody to be treated fairly.  You’re for gay rights, minorities, and women’s liberation.  Being progressive means you have a soul.


But what’s the difference between that and any other term?  Conservatives want to help poor people too.  In terms of charity, conservatives give much more to the poor than liberals do.


Libertarians want to help poor people too.  Libertarians care about the environment, women’s rights, gay rights, and minorities just as much as anybody else.


Even socialists want to help the poor.  Michael Moore defined himself as a socialist when he was trying to promote “universal healthcare”.  It’s a noble goal to want everyone in America to have access to healthcare, and education, and a strong safety net.


As all the name calling get thrown around, “He’s a socialist!  She’s a Teabagger!” we should all remember that we all have the same goals.  We all want to help the poor, and to give healthcare to people who need it.  We all want to live in a safe country, with clean lakes, rivers, and forests.  We all want affordable housing, quality education, and more and better jobs.  And I think Obama is a good person.  Maybe he is a socialist or not, but he is still trying as hard as he can to be a good president, the same way I think George W. Bush was trying as hard as he could.  I truly believe that they are good people inside, with worthy goals.


And for the most part, we all have the same goals.  We just differ on how to reach those goals.  Progressives are more likely to look to the government for a solution.  Conservatives and tea partiers look to the free market.  We all want to live in a better world.  Defining a group of people as “evil” certainly doesn’t help us get there.