2016 presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks at the National Rifle Association convention, April 10, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn.
Photo by Mark Humphrey/AP

That’s not what ‘socialism’ means

Updated
Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) probably wouldn’t be a competitive national candidate, but he nevertheless seems to be moving forward with his plans for a presidential campaign. Late last week, he even released an ad teasing a likely announcement.
 
In the spot, which is airing in New Hampshire, the Republican says he’s had enough of “Obama-style socialism.” He didn’t appear to be kidding.
 
The comment came to mind yesterday reading Dave Weigel’s latest report on Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who seems annoyed by scuttlebutt about Republicans nominating a governor, not a senator, for their 2016 ticket.
After Texas Senator Ted Cruz addressed the First in the Nation summit in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Saturday, he headed to a basement conference room for a conversation with young Republicans…. When one audience member asked Cruz what executive experience he could bring to the job, Cruz lambasted the “greybeards” in Washington for coming up with the “senator versus governor” framework in the first place.
 
“Obama is not a disaster because he was a senator,” said Cruz. “Obama is a disaster because he’s an unmitigated socialist, what he believes is profoundly dangerous, and he’s undermined the Constitution and the role of America in the world.”
Let’s put aside the question of whether or not President Obama’s successful tenure constitutes a “disaster,” and instead focus on that other part.
 
They keep using that word, “socialism,” but I don’t think it means what they think it means.
 
Look, there’s no reason for “socialism” to serve as a synonym for “stuff Republicans don’t like.” It’s an actual word with a fairly specific meaning, involving public ownership of the means of production.
 
And it in no way reflects the Obama era. After corporate profits reached all-time highs, the stock markets reached all-time highs, and the sharp drop in the unemployment rate was based almost entirely on private-sector job growth, I thought to myself, “Well, at least they’ll stop calling Obama a ‘socialist.’” But here we are anyway, hearing the same nonsense.
 
Have we considered the possibility that Republicans literally don’t know what “socialism” means? Isn’t it plausible that knee-jerk partisans have relied so heavily on the word for so long that they simply have lost track of its definition?
 
Cruz complained last year, “Right now, the top 1 percent in this country … earn a higher share of our national income than any time since 1928.” I’m curious: does the far-right senator believe those are economic conditions created by “an unmitigated socialist”? Or does Cruz believe the president is just really ineffective in implementing his socialist vision?
 
* Update: I edited the opening anecdote to reflect the note that Pataki’s video is actually a television commercial.
 

George Pataki and Ted Cruz

That's not what 'socialism' means

Updated