The United States of America hasn't had a free market economy since sometime in the first 100 days of FDR's administration. We have been socialists since 1933, and you may or may not have noticed that during that time the United States of America developed the world's largest economy and became one and now the only surviving member of the world's superpowers.
Some people, particularly conservatives, somehow consider socialism a threat to the free market principles that made America great. The trouble with that viewpoint is that socialism was with us the entire time during which the U.S. grew into the socioeconomic superpower that it now is. How did America become so prosperous while continuously pursuing socialist economic policy?
It must be that either capitalism is too strong a positive force to be subdued by socialism, or socialism is too weak a force to affect the progress of capitalism. That, of course, assumes that the two systems, capitalism and socialism are mutually exclusive as economic philosophies. They are according to strict definition. They aren't in practice because of the deliberations of previous generations who labored to reconcile the benefits and detriments of both into the system we have. Americans, in 1933 and on, took the best of each and discarded the worst. The result of that deliberative process was the economic powerhouse that America has since been. It was a political milestone in history that has yet to be recognized by the people of this country in enough numbers to influence the future of this country in light of it.
What has carried the country forward so far is in one part the naked sense of fairness, justice and inherent compassion that socialism brought to our consciousness. FDR did not sell the "New Deal" as socialism, he sold it as economic justice. The other, and equal part, is the acknowledgement of capitalism as the force that drives creativity and so wealth creation. Neither socialism nor capitalism alone could have attained the heights of success that America has attained.
Raw capitalism has the inherent moral hazard of profit over community and was rejected worldwide by the end of the 19th century. The 20th century was politically about nothing more than what would replace it as an economic system. Socialism has the moral hazard of appropriating private gain at the whim of the masses. Kings and Barons have been felled by the masses in bread riots. Both have natural limits due to their respective pitfalls. Capitalism ruins itself through instantaneous gratification of personal greed and socialism ruins itself through instantaneous gratification of public need.
The need to balance out the excesses of both natural tendencies in mankind is obvious. The means to balance them has been obscured by generations of conflict over which pure model, capitalism or socialism, is best. Both have moral hazards that make them unsustainable. All the while the answer has been lived out by the United States. Neither is sustainable as a pure philosophy. A shotgun wedding enforced by an enlightened government is necessary, and it's an ongoing task to keep the two from divorcing.
In 2010, and now 2012, conservative believers in pure capitalism are seeking to dispense with the marriage. They are convinced that capitalism, unencumbered by the economic balance of socialism, can make the country, or at least them, more prosperous. This, despite the Reagan, Bush and Bush experiments that showed lower taxes and deregulation coincident with decreasing general prosperity. The few that prospered more under those GOP administrations were predicable by the intrinsic moral hazard of capitalism. Private greed, when allowed, trumps the public good in the short and long term. That's why the entire world rejected pure industrial age capitalism a century ago.
Just as capitalism must be balanced with the public welfare, so must socialist tendencies. In this election no one is running as a socialist. Obama is running as the status quo of a form of government and with policy that created the America you know. It is an election that is not a choice between two candidates for president, it is a referendum on the American socioeconomic system that created the America you know, the only America any living American has ever known as an adult. Should we replace the democratic socialist government we have had for 80 years with a throwback to a pure capitalist system that failed everyone but the one percenters of the Gilded Age? That is the question.
It is the most critical question to be on a ballot in a hundred years. You may doubt the ability of government to make things better for the public now. But history is exact in the fact that you cannot doubt that government, it's balance of raw capitalist self interest and mob rule, has made things enough better in the past to make America the world's greatest nation.
At this point in history, there should not be a political contest between free market capitalism and socialism. The two political parties tend to be identified with the ideological poles of an antiquated argument. We should be beyond the argument of pure capitalism versus pure socialism, but we are, for some reason, not.
The real political argument is now not over whether or not the harnessing of capitalism by socialism works as an economic system, but instead is over whether or not we will become so socialist that capitalism can no longer work. That is a valid argument. But it is not a valid argument that we are already so socialist that capitalism does not work. It does work. Even in the world's greatest recession since the Great Depression, corporations are making huge profits and have $2 trillion dollars on the sidelines waiting for the economy to turn around.
The problems we now have are due to lack of demand, due to the great recession, corruption and abuse in the medical establishment, peak oil, and defense spending on the scale of a global war that does not exist. Of these problems, only medical spending can be attributed to socialist policy. Lack of demand was caused by the real estate bubble, a classic free market exuberance. Peak oil is a matter of the U.S. being behind the curve of resource reality, which is being taken advantage of by classic market exuberance. Defense spending is just a hangover from times when the military industrial complex had a blank check from Washington. Medical spending is only a problem because of the free market greed of practitioners and suppliers leeching off political recalcitrance in prosecuting fraud. All of these problems can be easily fixed with the political will to do so. It's the political will that is hard to fix.
The reason political will is hard to fix is because our political parties are fixated on ideological purities, the left on public welfare and the right on the ease of the formation of capital. Neither can exist, public welfare or the raising of capital, without the other. The status quo of 80 years of success says that balancing the two primeval forces of greed and need is essential in a 21st century government should we ever be able to achieve a modern government that transcends the ideological political pitfalls of the past.
The right thing to do on November 6th is to vote to build on the things we have learned about ourselves and our government over the last 80 years, and not to tear it down and start over where the last century began. We've lived the 19th century once before already. It sucked more than anyone now living is capable of imagining.
Obama is the right choice for a future built on knowledge and experience in governing a complex socioeconomic balance of markets and humans. Romney is the wrong choice as his ideology as a man is indecipherable but the ideology of his party, the new Tea Party/GOP, is willfully ignorant of the policy principles that created the America anyone now living has ever known.
Vote. Vote and lean left until there's a time when you should lean right. That's being an independent.