I give you fair warning: This is largely a lecture. One given often, but always desperately needed.
The president recently vowed that the United States would never be a socialist country. Regardless of your own political orientation, that statement is the kind of idiot, superlative claim that I constantly warn students against. It first of all implies that the president, any president, can mystically auger the future without error. It secondly implies that the United States is not at all a socialist country presently. Both of these propositions are nonsense without nuance.
To give a bit of fair and balanced critique, though, how about this howler from Obama regarding affordable care?: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” Making this statement was stupid on its face regardless of the content of the ACA. As health care plans are, even under the ACA, largely a provision of private insurance providers, they are subject to private change in the face of shifting economic and political conditions, which the ACA provided.
To my second point, guess what, people: as much as capitalism is here, socialism is also in large degree already here and not going away. Many people in American, and also global, political economies in the developed world seemingly prefer the provision of certain goods and services through public funding as opposed to private venture. This kind of funding is, by definition, socialist. We seem to politically support it with every cashing of a Social Security check, every enrollment in Medicare or Medicaid, every kid sent on a bus to a public school, every road we drive on as opposed to walk beside.
Repeat it with me: Superlative claims, the language learned from advertising copy, religious fanaticism and cable news, is the language of morons. “The Best…,” “The Greatest…,” “The Most Revolutionary…,” “The Bigliest…”; Sound familiar and numbingly stupid? If the president, any president, cared about careful description to their constituents, they would say something like “These sectors of the American economy, I hope, will never be sectors funded by socialism. I will work to that end.” Nuance is not a sexy sell however, and no amount of grammatical nagging by an educator will change much about that. But I can try.