Civil Discourse Now

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GOP Marion County chair candidate uses "socialism" as a buzz term

On Saturday March 6, Precinct Committee people (PCs) of the Marion County GOP will caucus to elect a party chair. One candidate, Michael-Paul Hart, called me (I’m a PC) this week. He sent me his “Marion County GOP Plan of Action” (Plan) with a cover letter (letter).

The Plan focuses on organization and money, i.e. branding and sales. Issues at best are implied, e.g.: “democrats are tearing our City apart by shutting down businesses, letting rioters tear down our City, and aiding Socialist parties to build alliances.”

I’m unaware that the Democratic Party seeks alliances with any other party, socialist or other. But socialism (or any related term) is a scare word, mere mention of which wins an argument for the GOP, like when horses whinny at mention of “Frau Blucher” in “Young Frankenstein.”

Just as “blucher” does not mean “glue” in German, there is no reason to fear socialism, for which there are “no fewer than forty definitions...” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The entry notes socialism is best defined in contrast with capitalism and as a proposal for overcoming and replacing it.

In that vein, great graffiti I read in 1975 in Las Vegas, New Mexico: “Capitalism is the system of man exploiting man/socialism is the other way around.” Oxford Languages provides a simple definition - after all, we need to be simple. This is the GOP.

Socialism is “a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.” We need regulations, on local, State and national levels.

In Texas today people are dying because that State opted out of a national power grid in favor of State control and the free market. (See Price, Austin American Statesman, Feb 16, 2021.) In the late 1800s we learned that an unfettered free market kills people.

In that time a progressive member of the Republican Party, Theodore Roosevelt, began to fight the large corporations that had formed oligopolies and monopolies. You see, capitalism is like a one-loss basketball tournament.

It’s like the NCAA “big dance” except businesses, not basketball teams, compete. A business “wins” if it makes profits. There are a couple of major differences. First, there is not a re-set at the end of each season. A winning team damn well wants to keep that trophy.

Businesses do not always win by playing “clean.” Standard Oil, in the late 1800s, priced oil so low as to put competitors out of business, then jacked prices way over previous levels. Venture capitalists even acquire and scavenge successful businesses.

Second, usually businesses are corporations and shield shareholders from liability for corporate acts. In the 1980s Union Carbide killed several thousand people in Bhopal, India. No one went to jail. For what has happened in Texas, people might go to Cancun, but none to jail.

We face very real problems in Marion County. The GOP should not focus on “branding” and sales, but issues. As the Black Lives Matter movement illustrates, racism is a bottom-line problem in this country, and one the GOP used to address with a progressive stand.

We have parts of socialism in Indy, just not the way Mr Hart seems to believe. We hand tons of money to developers and retain little control. Really, the last POTUS whom one could argue was a socialist was Richard Nixon. He brought us the EPA. He was a Republican.

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