In any case, I don't think it's right to call the New Party "socialist." I remember this party. One of the founders was UW lawprof Joel Rogers. They presented themselves not as socialists, but as left-leaning and progressive. I realize that for right wingers that counts as "socialist," but let's not be inflammatory.
I found an article in the LA Times, January 27, 1997, called "Life of the Party, Joel Rogers, Recipient of a MacArthur 'Genius' Grant, Helps Guide the Fledgling New Party and its Campaign to Provide Educational Opportunity and a Living Wage." (No link, because the LA Times website is inadequate.) Excerpt:
Imagine, [Joel Rogers] says, that in 2000 the Democrats run Al Gore for president and the Republicans offer, say, millionaire Steve Forbes....It's not fair to call the New Party "socialist," and it's really not fair to paint Obama as a crypto-socialist today because of his association with it.
A mad taxer might, instead, "vote his values" by poking the ballot next to Gore's name--not where he is listed as a Democrat, but beside his New Party nomination...
Either way, the vote would count toward the candidate's total. And the candidate, says Rogers, would get a sharp reminder that a certain percentage of his votes came from people who think a certain way--like New Party "progressives," for instance.
Which leads to the question of just what this New Party stands for, and how popular its "populism" would really be....
"If you ask, 'Do you think all kids should have an equal start in life,' 80% of the population would agree with you," he says.
Next he shoots out a rhetorical filament about declining incomes and wage disparity--reflecting the party's vehement support of "living wage" campaigns.
"People really don't think it's fair to work full time, 2,000 hours a year, and get such lousy pay that they can't even raise a kid on it," he says. "That has electoral promise, that sentiment. . . . You can't inflict this much damage on people's expectations and not see it show up somewhere in voter volatility and anger.
"When you say, 'It doesn't seem fair that Michael Eisner makes $ 75,000 an hour,' people respond to that."
The party also supports progressive taxation, international workers rights, environmental protection, urban renewal and the public financing of elections....
If anything bugs Rogers, though, it is the suggestion that his dream is a new playground for political hobbyists and pinko pointy heads.
"I think it would be unfair to characterize it as just a marketing strategy for old defeated socialists. . . ," Rogers says. "It attaches much less weight to the state--much less than even conventional liberalism."
IN THE COMMENTS: One of my favorite commenters, Chip Ahoy, calls this "Simply the most incoherent post I've ever read here." He goes on:
Why not call a socialist a socialist? Don't tell me not to call a spade a spade or a club a club, I'll call them as I see them.I'm sorry you burned your leg, Chip. And I'm not speaking to the question whether Rogers is a socialist. But I think the New Party project was meant to be more mainstream ... left, but mainstream. I think candidates that were endorsed by the party, as it followed its supposedly clever strategy, were just very liberal Democrats.
Everything about this post speaks to socialism, jealousy, income redistribution, class war. Joel Roberts [sic], whether or not he likes to hear it, is a socialist. There's nothing else to make of peeling off the most left of the left.
I didn't bother with the word clouds presented here earlier, but I recall hearing the word "fairness" a lot by both Obama and Biden. Now there's a word that grates. There. is. no. such. thing ◯ <--- emphatic period. What is an attempt to achieve fairness through social engineering if not a yearning for socialism? Bah. This was all so very interesting the first time we read about it in Animal Farm. Yes, Obama is socialist. In his bones. As socialist as allowed in American politics with himself at the control levers. Joel Rogers is attempting to stretch that allowance. I'm in poor spirit this morning. I fumbled boiling water and burned my leg. So I'm really not in any mood to be instructed how to redefine my native language. I spent too much time learning these words [than] to have somebody I don't know tell me they actually mean something else so that it becomes easier to slip proven-to-fail economic policies into American politics under another name.
AJ Lynch, another commenter with a fine reputation here, calls Chip's post "the best comment of the month." He adds:
I suggest you let them sink in Ann.Peter snarks:
Let's not be silly. Of course Obama is a socialist!I'm just a humble citizen of Madison, Wisconsin, an observer of political things who is not herself political. I come from the world of art, and I sojourned into law, where I did not really belong, but I got ensnared in a career here, and blogging is my reemergence as the real person that I truly am. I have met many interesting people here in Madison, including many lefties, including Joel Rogers. They are the normal people around here -- here, where I feel so comfortable, where I have lived for a quarter of a century, even though I in no way belong here. Have some pity on me, dear readers.
The real question is this: Is Ann Althouse a socialist?