David Schraub objects to classifying Mr Obama as a socialist … and he is right and wrong at the same time.
Well, that is, of course, because it all depends on what is “is”. Oops. Sorry wrong word. Actually, it really depends more strongly on what you mean by socialist. By a strict definitional standpoint, a socialist is
Socialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and the creation of an egalitarian society. Modern socialism originated in the late nineteenth-century working class political movement. Karl Marx posited that socialism would be achieved via class struggle and a proletarian revolution which represents the transitional stage between capitalism and communism.
So, by that definition, strictly speaking Mr Obama is not a socialist. He doesn’t want a “transition” to a Marxist regime and doesn’t want the government to fully control have collective ownership of corporations (that is except for the banks). So in a strict sense, he is not a socialist. So, Mr Obama is not a socialist.
However, by a more casual usage of the term “socialist”, there is a continuum between those (precious few) who believe in a completely unregulated economy and a strict Marxist/socialist. In that sense, the notion that Mr Obama is pressing policies that would engage more government’s distribution of goods, such as “spreading the wealth” than are currently in place, it is perfectly true that he is trending toward socialism and at the same time his critics would prefer the reverse. Their claim that from their point on the spectrum, “he is a socialist” is true in that sense. Liberal and conservative are fuzzy terms, which honestly really mean “more liberal than me, and more conservative than me” for a lot of people who commonly view themselves as somewhere near the center. Socialist in this sense, would mean “more tending to socialism” than either me (or my perception of the “middle”). In that sense, Mr Obama is arguably a socialist. So, Mr Obama is a socialist.