Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — “socialists?” Illogical insult to make American voters trust them less? That probably works — but it’s dishonest.

Grand Old Party Speaker Newt Gingrich paved the way for this, recommending calling your opponent incendiary names in the 1990 pamphlet “Language, a Key Mechanism of Control.” A label like “socialist” can, but usually doesn’t, enlighten.

Words can mean different things. Henri de Saint-Simon, a founder of “Christian Socialism” (not “atheist socialism”), first used socialism in 1825 to mean increased use of resources for the common social good. Loosely, “more role for governments.” And less control over wealth and property by individuals. Loosely, “less freedom.”

By this vague definition, any government thing, from public schools or libraries to roads, can be considered “socialistic” — a law that you cannot drive 80 mph by a school deprives you of freedom; taxes to pay for interstate highways take away freedom to spend those dollars yourself.

Dating back to Karl Marx’s use of socialism in the 1840s, the word has sometimes meant absolute rejection of capitalism, something like communism and central control of all things economic. Other times, the word has meant no more than some serious restraints on capitalism and more regulation of business.

No serious American, of any political stripe, thinks there should be no role at all for governments. But there’s always been plenty of disagreement about where to put the limits. Some think it’s desirable to have strong social safety nets, health care for everyone, help for families via extended child care or generous parental leave policies, policies that make it easier for workers to organize unions and basic common responsibility for infrastructure.

Supporting such things is sometimes called, “social democratic” or “democratic socialism.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt was called a socialist based on his general ideas of turning to government to make things better. The Nordic nations, Sweden, Denmark, etc., as well as to a less pronounced degree, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Germany, also use more government for the common good than the United States does.

A few current American Democrats, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, apply the label democratic socialist to themselves, but FDR never did. Biden and Harris never have. And Sweden and the rest have strong capitalistic economies and don’t use the socialist label.

Venezuela can reasonably be called socialist in the completely undemocratic sense, but in fact, it has little in common with social democratic policies or any American politicians.

Few Americans of any philosophy want to have government be in charge of everything economic.

In 1800, Thomas Jefferson’s opponents claimed that if Jefferson were elected he’d send federal troops to citizens’ houses and confiscate Bibles. Whether anyone voted based on such nonsense is hard to know — but weaponizing political discourse is not new, however much “credit” Gingrich wants for coarsening things of late. Despite history, name-calling is destructive.

Does it make sense to call Biden/Harris or other current Democrats socialists? Not if you think labels should be accurate. Not if you want to enlighten rather than merely to insult.

Ed Buckner is a League City native who now lives in Atlanta.

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(39) comments

Bailey Jones

Labels are worse than useless - they short circuit critical thinking. I much prefer to discuss ideas and policies.

Ed Buckner

Mr. Jones, it pleases me that you "got" the main point of my bit. Sadly, I predict that not everyone will.

Don Schlessinger

Bailey, "Labels are worse than useless - they short circuit critical thinking." Where do you put the labels you use to describe the party or people you don't like? Are your labels above "worse than useless," and do they short circuit thinking YOUR thinking or only other people's?

Ed Buckner

Don Schlessinger, Bailey Jones can speak for himself, but what I'd say is "Carelessly applied labels are worse than useless." Of course some labels sometimes enlighten or communicate--but often enough in heated political they cast far more heat than light.

Bailey Jones

It's a valid point, Don, one I was hoping someone would pick up on. Not all labels are useless - if they have some specificity. BOI is a useful label - someone who was born on the island. Republican is a useful label - someone who identifies with the Republican Party. "Socialist" is not a useful label because it could describe anyone from Jesus to Stalin, and any policy from libraries to state-owned centrally planned economies.

That's why I prefer to talk about individual policies and ideas. Not that I'm above calling someone names - but that's not done in the interest of furthering a dialogue.

Ted Gillis

Aren't confederate monuments the product of a critical race theory?

Ed Buckner

Mr. Gillis, indeed so. And anyone who doesn't think the Confederate cause was fundamentally--not just incidentally--about white supremacy and slavery should read Confederate VP's "Cornerstone" speech delivered just before the Civil War broke out-- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornerstone_Speech . VP Alexander Stephens made it clear that white Southern Christians wanted government to protect Bible-based racism.

Carlos Ponce

Ted, Confederate monuments like that found in Galveston are meant to honor deceased relatives. Critical race Theory is used to discredit accomplishments and deeds of "White" people. I never knew a "White" person personally. But Albinos seem to be regular people.

"We all know that people are the same wherever you go

there is good and bad in everyone

and we learn to live we learn to give each other

what we need to survive together alive."

Ed Buckner

Carlos Ponce (hey, I got the spelling right this time), we agree on some important things, but you have it wrong on what most proponents of CRT want or mean. We agree, we really do, that "We all know that people are the same wherever you go

there is good and bad in everyone

and we learn to live we learn to give each other

what we need to survive together alive." But CRT is not anti-White, it's anti-racism. The Civil War was, beyond any reasonable doubt, heavily about racism. Honoring war dead is worthwhile and desirable, and I had ancestors who fought for the South. They were quite misguided but I honor them nevertheless. The problem with most--not all--Civil War monuments is that they don't just honor the dead or bravery--they glorify White Supremacy and anti-American leaders. Civil War leaders from the South uniformly rejected the idea that "people are the same wherever you go"--and they didn't just hold bad ideas--they took up arms and waged war to support those bad ideas.

Carlos Ponce

CRT actions speak louder than CRT words.

Ed Buckner

Actions speak louder than words in general, Carlos Ponce--but actual actions matter, while political fiction *about* actions rarely means anything. If you want to criticize CRT, point to actual things done in the name of it, not political fabrications. And, no, not "White school kids are being told in kindergarten they have to feel guilty" or the like. That sort of phony claim is widespread but false. Cite actual schools with actual behavior. I do think there have been some excesses, but that's not usually what CRT has been all about. CRT argues, correctly, that racism has been quite widespread, that it has been present even when not acknowledged, that remnants from past discrimination are common. Good recent example are black American farmers who have been, for generations and in crucial ways, denied loans and government subsidies that other farmers got. I have seen--and deplored--a few statements saying or implying that all white folks are hopelessly racist and indecent, but that's a misuse of CRT, not the standard academic use.

Carlos Ponce

Too many instances where CRT has been implemented in schools, etc that show otherwise, Ed. You may call it "anecdotal" but it is widespread.

Ed Buckner

Carlos Pone, as is nearly always your practice, you reply without in fact responding. I specifically asked that you not merely repeat assertions you've heard or read somewhere, but instead actually give examples. You ignored that completely--and everyone should join me in concluding that in fact you don't know any real cases--just repeating political blather is good enough for you. Neither your credibility nor your case is strengthened thereby. Here's betting it gets no better.

Ed Buckner

Ponce not Pone, of course. A mere typo but careless of me not to have proofread and corrected before clicking on "Post Comment."

Carlos Ponce

Ed Buckner, examples of how CRT has destroyed race unity are all over the internet. Do a web search.Here's some:

"Virginia mom who survived Maoist China eviscerates school board's critical race theory push"

https://www.foxnews.com/us/virginia-xi-van-fleet-critical-race-theory-china-cultural-revolution-loudoun

"Vermont schools use CRT to teach hate against whites"

https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2021/06/vermont_schools_use_crt_to_teach_hate_against_whites.html

"Montana Attorney General Rules Many Aspects of Critical Race and “Antiracism” Training Are Unlawful"

https://legalinsurrection.com/2021/05/montana-attorney-general-rules-many-aspects-of-critical-race-and-antiracism-training-are-unlawful/

Ed Buckner

The problem, Carlos Ponce, is well illustrated by your examples-- that things that are "all over the internet" are quite often false or misrepresented. For example, the first example you gave was of a Chinese woman/Virginia citizen who, quite understandably and correctly, denounced the cultural revolution under Mao in China and its horrific anti-freedom, anti-dissent, anti-individual aspects. But then she makes, without apparent justification of any sort, the claim that CRT is the same sort of thing. She declares that CRT is trying to get students to hate and denounce America and our heritage, but that seems to be merely repeating one of the right's persistent talking points--she cites no instances, none at all, where the Loudon County school system has allowed or encouraged such crap. If they did, I'd join her in condemning that. Full credit to Mr. Ponce for at least providing links to alleged examples--but they are not persuasive of anything more than distortion or occasional misuse of the theory. John Klar declares that his representation of CRT--a deeply inaccurate one--is a "pretty concise summary of CRT," but that does not make it so. The Montana story includes a link to a website that purports to detail some 300 instances of CRT gone amiss, but all of the ones I looked at were less than credible: heavy with political scare tactics and short on demonstrated ills. I'll say again: I do think there have been some excesses in the name of CRT and there can be real dangers--academic theories should be treated as interesting and potentially useful grounds for thought, not as rigid dogma.

Carlos Ponce

That's what I thought you would say. No matter the situation you will not look further into it and proclaim it false.

Ed Buckner

Let me say some more, and not just to Carlos Ponce, about the very real dangers of excesses donee in the name of CRT. I read, occasionally, a lively Libertarian blogger named Amy Alkon. She is a sometimes-too-harsh critic of CRT who nevertheless usually avoids the Far Right's sillier talking points on the subject. Alkon recently wrote, "The legacy of this country's profound racism, the deep and abiding shame of its genocidal slavocracy, the atrocities, such as Tulsa, which have been white-washed, the appalling record of lynchings and beatings, the centrality of African-Americans to the story and success of this country: all this must be better explored and understood. There is nothing wrong and a huge amount right about black scholars taking the lead in shining light on what others might miss, building on past knowledge, helping us better account for it. White scholars, like the hundreds of thousands of white citizens who gave their lives to end slavery, have a crucial role to play as well.

"But we must also unequivocally insist that all of this is only possible within a liberal system -- that sees the individual and reason and equality as our foundations. Liberalism can live with critical race theory; but critical race theory is committed in its foundational texts to the overthrow of liberalism. And this matters.

"...Let's use liberal means -- airing this topic, exposing its arguments, decoding its language, explaining its ultimately totalitarian logic -- to beat this illiberal menace in the field of public opinion. Then the repair can begin."

--http://www.advicegoddess.com/goddessblog.html

Ed Buckner

Please ignore my earlier post and read this instead (the earlier one had misleading quotation marks--accurate only if the paragraphing was preserved--that this doesn't-- Let me say some more, and not just to Carlos Ponce, about the very real dangers of excesses donee in the name of CRT. I read, occasionally, a lively Libertarian blogger named Amy Alkon. She is a sometimes-too-harsh critic of CRT who nevertheless usually avoids the Far Right's sillier talking points on the subject. Alkon recently wrote, "The legacy of this country's profound racism, the deep and abiding shame of its genocidal slavocracy, the atrocities, such as Tulsa, which have been white-washed, the appalling record of lynchings and beatings, the centrality of African-Americans to the story and success of this country: all this must be better explored and understood. There is nothing wrong and a huge amount right about black scholars taking the lead in shining light on what others might miss, building on past knowledge, helping us better account for it. White scholars, like the hundreds of thousands of white citizens who gave their lives to end slavery, have a crucial role to play as well. But we must also unequivocally insist that all of this is only possible within a liberal system -- that sees the individual and reason and equality as our foundations. Liberalism can live with critical race theory; but critical race theory is committed in its foundational texts to the overthrow of liberalism. And this matters. ...Let's use liberal means -- airing this topic, exposing its arguments, decoding its language, explaining its ultimately totalitarian logic -- to beat this illiberal menace in the field of public opinion. Then the repair can begin." --http://www.advicegoddess.com/goddessblog.html

Gary Scoggin

Ed... building on your original point, when terms get weaponized it takes the focus off the orginal intent. This is especially true in matters of race.

CRT is a great example. As the term has been expanded beyond its original, academic intent, it has become a lightning rod for the bigger discussion of race in America. Proponents of the theory on the left have, in some cases, taken it beyond its intent and opponents on the right have used it as a rallying cry for their cause. Would America benefit from a common understanding of the history of racism and it current vesitiges in the country today? Certainly. But it should be done in context with America's positive contributions to society at large and done to drive understanding, not feelings of guilt.

An even better example is "Defund the Police." How any reasonable person thought that such a term could be a popular rallying cry for police reform is beyond me. Is there a need to update and adjust some of our methods of policing? Certainly. All activities benefit from the cycle of continuous improvement. But to seemingly call for the abolition of that you wish to improve is not how you get things accomplished. Instead, it is feel good silliness.

Ed Buckner

Excellent points; well written. Have you submitted Guest Columns to the Daily News? (I don't remember seeing any, but I'm an erratic reader of the paper.) If not, please consider doing so.

Karen Lauer

Gary and Ed - very great points from both of you. Thank you both for the constructive discussion.

Ed Buckner

Thnx, Ms. Lauer!

Charles Douglas

CRT is a bunch of " Horse Crap" dreamed up by the LEFT to divide this nation by race. The average individual who claim to know so much about the injustices and hardships we suffered during the fifties and sixties, receive their info from Democratic taking points, or from somebody else who did the same, meaning they heard, or read something, but they were NOT there, and they (#@& ) "Sho" did not see first hand what was going on back then! I, being a product of Segregation, and Jim Crow, in every way... think it is time to move on! It is time to love one another as Jesus loved us! Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord, and I shall recompense. ...Hebrews 10:30.

So, I see no other reason to divide America from within, but for SATANIC purposes! Division is the Devil's math! What he can divide, he has proven he can steal, kill, and destroy! These are the things we see happening everyday on the streets of this nation now in the name of equality for minorities! It is all a lie, because if equality is the issue, why don't we have school vouchers and school choice for minorities country wide? Why is it that many America students are not allowed in physical classrooms now when Illegals crossing the borders are?

I have suffered the humiliation of having to walk through doors marked for " Colored Only" across the top, I have had to sit in waiting rooms marked for ..."Colored Only".. Sat on the back of buses, So what? I don't want to impart all that unpleasant BS on young kids coming up today and why somebody else would ....makes me.wonder about those who do! It is time to move on, and move on together! We don't need all this BS CRT crap taught to our children! My children did not see themselves as victims, but as over-comers! One of my sons was a national recruit in football with offers from Southern California, Notre Dame, Michigan, A&M, Miami, Florida State, and Texas to name a few! Now somebody tell me, what [censored] did CRT do to stop, help, or inhibit that from happening? He went on to earn a Master's degree, as did his brother! What caused that? Was it CRT? $&## Naw it wasn't!!! It was me on their behinds urging them to hustle, stay out of trouble and compete! It was me working my behind off to furnace all their needs and demanding they have some pride, guts, and class! That got the results I wanted and hoped for, and CRT, didn't have a thing to do with it one way or another! Naw, I can carry anyone to a family graveyard in East Texas along Hwy 30 where a few of Slave relatives are resting. Whatever justice or due process they have coming, the LORD is the.judge and he will rectify it in his time! Nobody else on two legs are going to do a [censored]... thing for them and that is a fact and the truth too! So, why are we in destruction mode now that Joe China is in office? Huh? Why are the borders wide open, China, and Russia running "Buck Wild?" Why are we seeing a clamp down on free speech, censoring speech, canceling out ideas and thoughts by Big Tech & the Fake News Media? Why is everything about Race now? Lastly, I will repeat what the Great Dr. MLK once said, " I will not allow no man to pull me down so LOW, as to make me HATE him! Another quote, which will never leave me is: " Son, I ain't learn you how to HATE folks." " There is some good & bad in all folks." "Now next time I hear tell you talking like what I just heard,...me and you gonna have it now!" .....Mr. T. Douglas ( My Dad, gone but not forgotten).

Charles Douglas

I should have mentioned that Mr. T. Douglas was an ex "Share-Cropper" and never got to the seventh grade, but he pushed all his kids to work and receive what America had to offer instead of crying " PO ME" ..we are Black and inferior!

Ed Buckner

Neither Mr. T. Douglas in his day nor Charles Douglas in this one understand what CRT is, and seem to prefer ranting to logical discussion. Some of the comments above, by me and one or two others, can enlighten him if I'm wrong.

Charles Douglas

One of the good things I like about this country is that people have now, and have had the privilege to express their opinions. My posts on Race, are based on real life experiences and not second hand Liberal talking points used to control, incite, or to deceive African-Americans and Hispanics for political gain. Again, people can believe what they want, or what they are deceived into believing. That is one of the beautiful things about America!

Ed Buckner

I certainly agree with Mr. Douglas that everyone in this nation has, so far and mostly, the right to think, believe, and say whatever he wishes. But not all opinions are reasonable or accurate, and in regard to CRT, Mr. Douglas shares with Mr. Ponce a general lack of understanding and a willingness to accept information from misinformed sources.

Charles Douglas

Mr. Buckner seems to be the self declared "CRT" Czar on this forum who possesses a unique ability to know who understands what, and who does not. I know what CRT is, and what the Liberals are hoping to accomplish with it. They are masters at deception, and controlling people and situations, as they did with the Wuhan Virus, and are trying to do with the border fiasco now, along with defunding the police. It is all political, and none of it is working.

I understand perfectly when somebody is trying to put his hand on my shoulder trying to deceive me into believing I have his/her support, or love, but that hand is really there to keep me from moving up and becoming a success! More and more minorities are beginning to see and recognize the Radical lies being told to them by the LEFT! CRT is a con job by the LEFT orchestrated to dig up past turmoil and racial hatredness of the past, and drag them back into our lives today! It is like opening up old healed wounds so they can bleed red all over again! All this ferments renewed bitterness, hate, and distrust between those living in this country today! The evidence can be seen by the astronomical increase in violent criminal behavior in the streets, and cities of America today! Harden criminals getting out of lock-up with no bail requirements just to commit more crimes.

Ed Buckner

Mr. Douglas, like Mr. Ponce before him, unhesitatingly declares things to be true that are not--and without evidence, either. I am not--and have not said I am--an expert on CRT, much less a "self declared 'CRT' Czar." I am decidedly better informed about it than either of these guys, and I know that because of things they have both said. Either of them or other readers can reasonably judge whether I have read fairly wide on the subject from the comments I've made on this page--and that includes sources critical of CRT and positive about it, as well as Gary Scoggins excellent balanced analysis. (I recommend to critics and anyone else re-reading what Scoggins wrote.) Mr. Douglas is quite sure he knows what CRT is and what "Liberals" are trying to do, but his basis for saying these things is nothing more than his own misguided reading on the subject--self-evident if one reads relatively widely on the subject, as I have.

Charles Douglas

Our own self appointed "CRT" Czar seems to see himself as the most informed on the subject, and the smartest individual in the room, because of what he has widely read. Seems like Mr. Buckner stormed upon this forum and became highly critical of Mr. Carlos PONCE also....because he keep bringing his name up!

I would like to say as I said before, ...Mr. Buckner, is entitled to his opinions on race,...but while he was reading about " Jim Crow" and "Segregation" I was busy living them! So with this explanation I think my position has been made. That being "CRT" is a load of Liberal BS designed to keep alive mistakes of the past so they can be used for political power of control in the present! Nothing he posts here is going to change that! This divisive rhetoric he seems to be in love with, does NOT belong in classrooms in America! This is all I have to say about it, and I will not keep essentially arguing about it over & over on this forum!

Carlos Ponce

Interesting Ed Buckner is "White 'splaining" CRT to an African American and a Hispanic American.

Ed Buckner

Ed Buckner (me!) is--as any reasonable person will be able to observe--doing no such thing. "White 'splaining," to the extent it is meaningful at all, is explaining something *as* a white person to a nonwhite, and I haven't done that. I have never lived as anything but as a "white" (like Carlos Ponce, I don't really know any white folks, but others usually consider me "white," for what little that is worth). I don't know what segregation, racism, racial discrimination, etc., are like except from the viewpoint of a biased observer. Critical Race Theory is, however, a theoretical idea that claims--with some apparent justification--to be useful in explaining various cultural phenomenon. I think I'm plenty smart, but I don't know how smart Ponce or Douglas are. That they are not logical, reasonable commenters is evident from what they write on these pages, and I'm confident I'm more reasonable and logical, at least on these matters, than either man.

Charles Douglas

Sounds like Mr. Buckner is politicking for a position with GDN to be the one who will rank which posters are reasonable, and logical on this forum ...by using his standards, & based on what he has read along with his life experiences. Sounds "Czarist" to me. Lolo. Outrageous!

Ed Buckner

How much does this obviously important position pay, anyway. First I'd heard of it, to tell the truth. it's a good thing Mr. Douglas didn't really mean it when he said he was through discussing all this, else I would not have known opportunity was knocking! Just shows it's important not to take Mr. Douglas too seriously.

Carlos Ponce

Au contaire, it is Ed Buckner who is not taken seriously.

Charles Douglas

That be the case Mr. Buckner, ..I think you and I are flowing down the river in the same canoe then, because I don't think people should take you seriously either! Just imagine, ...someone wanting to poison the minds of young school children with "CRT" divisive race rhetoric! That's on you Mr. Buckner! You should apologize to every school kid and their parents in America!

If you and other Liberals want to be constructive, and progressive, then increase funding for schools and gifted programs, create blue collar craft job opportunities in America. Let's have school vouchers and school choice for our kids! In other words WALK WHAT YOU TALK, ...then maybe you and I can find common ground! Until then I'm not falling for yoir Liberal talking points, or your White feel good speak, "splaining" to me and others what's good for MINORITIES!

Education improves opportunities in this nation! I would bet that you had great opportunities and school facilities juxtaposed to my having to wear second hand football equipment that the neighhood WHITE KIDS didn't want anymore! You probably had new books great curriculums, and more when I did not! So pardon me if I don't place much credence and emphasis on WHAT YOU HAVE READ!!!!!! I lived this stuff called racism, discrimination, Jim Crow, and Segregation! So YOU take all this you read and sell it to those on this forum who think and feel like you. Thank you for sharing! Posting with people with your ideas about things helps keep me on my toes! Lolo. I'm out. You get the last word, and I suspect that is what you crave for. So you are up, and I am done! ( For real ). Go for it!

Ed Buckner

Mr. Douglas, we agree on some things: I also think we're flowing down the river in the same canoe (I honestly don't think anyone should take either of us all that seriously). And I very strongly support better funding for public education in Texas, in Georgia, and throughout the US. We obviously disagree on things that matter mightily to both of us--I wouldn't be an atheist and you wouldn't be a bible-believing Christian if we didn't. Far too few of our students learn American history in all its rich complexity, and that is a huge mistake for us all. America has been, since its beginning, a great nation AND a flawed nation, and working to make it better is something we all should do. I strongly support higher taxes to pay teachers better, give our schools better equipment, etc. I had great facilities and pretty good teachers and I am grateful for that and I well understand (though i didn't very well when I was in junior high and high school in Webster and League City in the early 1960s) that many got far less educational support, based on race and poverty and other things. Even though many who got short-changed rose above the obstacles, we'll never know how many others didn't or how much we all have lost by not providing equal opportunity for all. I value truth, not any particular theory. I honor Dr. King's declaration that we should judge by character not skin color. I also do indeed like having the last word--but I sort of think you do as well, so I won't rag on you too hard if you just can't resist making just that one more little point. Or maybe two. Go for it!

David Hardee

Charles, it is a waste to embrace these pompous theorist. Their intellect is a regurgitation of the self compilations of what has been theorized before them. Especially the whites whose shoes have never trod the ditches of life because out of sync with the majority that crowded the gilded. A majority in the human theatre is always the superior - this is true whether the society be scored by color, culture or wealth. Systemic partiality (or as these destructors of all the norms, mores and morals of the USA ) have clamed is racism fits the desire of the progressive liberal to infect the minds of the naïve, developing, especially children that are susceptible, Non of these pompous theorist are ignorant of their offense they simply desire recognition of the eloquence in creativity beyond the responsibility to be an asset to humanity,

"bible based racism", is another peculiar mantra propagated from a theoretical socialist activist. Soon, "bible based racism" will evolve to "Christian Systemic Racism" when they feel Jesus needs denigration. Progressive liberals cannot have obstruction on their way to the Utopian world where nothing matters.

These nincompoops need you, Charles, definitely!

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