A lot of voters think that America's future is on the line in November, and for them it's a stark choice: Socialism vs. capitalism.
Voters have been looking at the bailouts, the government takeovers, a huge increase in government spending, taxpayer-funded transfers of power from independent corporations to unions and bureaucrats, and they see a general move away from capitalism toward socialism. Now all these things added together may seem far from a socialist tipping point. But consider that many powerful people on the left think that the actions of the past two years are just a first step.
AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka laid bare his agenda for round two of this transformation of America at a New York forum last week. The most powerful labor leader in America told his audience:
"…we need to fundamentally restructure our economy and re-establish popular control over the private corporations which have distorted our economy and hijacked our government. That's a long-term job, but one we should start now."
Now, when we hear a union chief talk about "popular control over private corporations," we think of what President Obama did with Chrysler: stripping the ownership rights of secured bondholders and handing 60% of the company over to his friends at the UAW, with billions of your tax dollars thrown in along the way.
Of course, we saw a bit of how UAW workers are thanking taxpayers for this gift in that video of the pot smoking/beer drinking work breaks outside the Chrysler plant last week. In fairness, the workers have been disciplined and Chrysler says it was a complete anomaly. But that image is now ingrained in people's mind: "This is what happens when the unions run the show. This is what happens when we edge closer to socialism. This is how America is losing its cutting edge as a capitalist super power."
Coincidental to the Chrysler story breaking was news that there’s an FBI investigation ongoing concerning former SEIU chief Andy Stern. Stern is the president's best friend in the union movement, the man who visited the Obama White House more than any other non-relative. While this is just an investigation and may turn up nothing, if Mr. Stern is seen as getting any kind of favorable treatment it could play into the public's perception of what's happening in the country: “Union thugs who want to destroy capitalism are being given a free ride by the President and the rest of the Democrats.” That may be an unfair characterization, but it's out there.
Democrats, particularly those from states where independents have soured on Obama, will have to address these issues in debates and campaign stops leading up to the election. And since a majority of Americans believe that the president favors the socialist policies endorsed by his friends in the unions, it will be a tough sell to prove that his choice for America’s economic policies is the people’s choice.