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Mob Mentality

[ Posted Wednesday, October 10th, 2018 – 16:48 PDT ]

Today's column is brought to you by the word "mob."

OK, maybe I didn't need that Sesame Street opening, but I just wanted to be as clear as possible from the get-go. Because after Donald Trump (and his Republican minions) started fearmongering their madding crowds (irony alert!) by warning of the Democrats' mob tactics, I started thinking about the word itself and its use. Today, I read Donald Trump's recent opinion piece in USA Today, which got me thinking about a whole different use of the word. Hence today's somewhat-disjointed column, and hence this introduction trying to tie it all together linguistically.

The word "mob" was first coined circa 1690 A.D., as a shortening of a Latin phrase: "mobile vulgus." The Latin translates roughly as "the moveable common people," although "movable" could have meant "fickle in their opinions" as much as it could have meant actual physical motion. The most succinct translation into English I've seen is "moveable party." This points out the political nature of the term's origins and its continued usage over the centuries.

The most common image of a mob is usually of an angry and perhaps violent group of people. But unlike the horror-movie cliché, the people with torches and pitchforks aren't marching against a literal monster (such as the one Frankenstein built), but against something they perceive as monstrous -- which is usually something political in nature.

In America, mobs have a long and illustrious history. The American Revolution began and was fueled by mob violence, plain and simple. There's just no getting around this historical fact. It can accurately be stated that our country was created by mobs. Here is respected historian Arthur Schlesinger, making this point in no uncertain terms:

Mass violence played a dominant role at every significant turning point of the events leading up to the War for Independence. Mobs terrified the stamp agents into resigning and forced a repeal of the tax. Mobs obstructed the execution of the Townshend Revenue Act and backed up the boycotts of British trade. Mobs triggered the Boston Massacre and later the famous Tea Party. The last disturbance, however, goaded the long-suffering Parliament to harsh retaliation, and this legislation, known ever since as the Intolerable Acts, provoked the colonists first to armed resistance and then to revolution. But even at this climactic stage of the controversy civilian mobs behind the lines systematically intimidated Tory opponents, paralyzing their efforts or driving them into exile.

Note that last bit -- back then, the political opponents of the mob were driven into exile. The mobs would appear at their homes and force them to leave with whatever they could carry, and then the mobs would escort them -- while, at times, tarring and feathering them along the way -- to ports held by Tories (i.e. British-supporters), where they could get on a ship heading for Canada or the Caribbean. This fact isn't generally known, but that doesn't make it any less true. Yelling at senators inside the Capitol isn't really even in the same ballpark, now is it?

Another fact from back then that isn't all that well-known is that John Adams, a lawyer, actually defended in court the British soldiers who had fired on the crowd in the Boston Massacre. In his defense, he specifically addresses the term's use in reference to the crowd itself [the quaint spelling and emphasis is from the original, I should mention]:

We have been entertained with a great variety of phrases, to avoid calling this sort of people a mob. Some will call them shavers, some call them genius's. The plain English is gentlemen, most probably a motley rabble of saucy boys, negroes and molottoes, Irish teagues and out landish jack tarrs. And why we should scruple to call such a set of people a mob, I can't conceive, unless the name is too respectable for them: The sun is not about to stand still or go out, nor the rivers to dry up because there was a mob in Boston on the 5th of March that attacked a party of soldiers. Such things are not new in the world, nor in the British dominions, though they are comparatively, rareties and novelties in this town.

Indeed, such things were not new in the world of the 18th century, and they certainly aren't new today. But the designation of being a mob is usually entirely within the eye of the beholder. One man's mob is another man's vigorous political protest. This is not new either, because this has really been an integral part of the definition all along. A mob is a group of angry people who are against what you stand for politically. For example, to Democrats, Donald Trump's rallies during his presidential campaign were indeed mobs. They not only threatened violence against both the media and people who didn't support Trump, in several cases they were caught on camera violently attacking protesters in the crowd. Conversely, Trump supporters point to mobs of anti-Trumpers who attacked people attending Trump rallies (the most infamous case, also caught on camera, happened in sleepy San Jose, California).

Taking a slightly broader view, to conservatives, the people shouting down politicians at town halls during the rise of the (modern) Tea Party movement were proud patriots exercising their rights to: assemble, petition the government for redress, and of course, speak freely. Their opponents decried their mob tactics at the time. The movement even named itself after an occurrence of mob violence during the Revolution (again: irony alert!).

More recently, the opponents of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh made their voices heard in the halls of Congress and elsewhere during his confirmation battle. To Trump, this was a dandy opportunity to warn his followers that should the Democrats win the midterm elections, the country was heading straight for mob rule. I guess fearmongering against immigrants had been getting old, or something.

Today, he took this several steps further in his USA Today piece. This 800-word article is extraordinary because, as the Washington Post fact-checker noted: "almost every sentence contained a misleading statement or a falsehood." He was later more blunt in his assessment: "It is full of outright lies, easily demonstrated lies." But this is where I have to slowly pivot to yet another definition of the mob.

Trump's main point (such as it is) in his screed is that the mean and nasty Democrats will somehow destroy Medicare by making it available to more people, with better benefits. He argues (double irony alert!) that Democrats want to change Medicare into "government-run healthcare" and "socialism," which, he claims, would absolutely destroy the program. To review the actual facts: Medicare is government-run healthcare, and Medicare is straight-up socialism. Period. Arguing that Democrats are going to change Medicare into what it already is is mind-blowingly idiotic, but that's not to say it won't convince some of the public (remember that infamous sign seen during the original Tea Party protests: "Keep your government hands off my Medicare!"?).

This is a new twist on an old argument for Republicans, of course. Ronald Reagan actually launched his political career on this very springboard. He cut a political album entitled: "Ronald Reagan speaks out against Socialized Medicine," which warned true-blue Americans of the evils inherent in creating Medicare. I initially wrote about this extraordinary rant back in 2009, but I later excerpted just the section about Reagan (which makes it easier to read). Here is just a sample of what Reagan was warning doctors' wives about in his political début:

Now what reason could the other people have for backing a bill which says we insist on compulsory health insurance for senior citizens on a basis of age alone regardless of whether they are worth millions of dollars, whether they have an income, whether they're protected by their own insurance, whether they have savings. I think we could be excused for believing that... this was simply an excuse to bring about what they wanted all the time: socialized medicine.

The horrors! Oh, the humanity! This speech actually ends with a line that too many Republicans to count have since used in their own speeches (the most memorable recent example was from Sarah Palin, when she was John McCain's running mate):

Write those letters now, call your friends and tell them to write. If you don't, this program, I promise you, will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow. And behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country, until, one day, as Norman Thomas said, we will awake to find that we have socialism. And if you don't do this and if I don't do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free.

It should be noted that, figuratively, Reagan's children's children are alive today. So is Medicare. So is freedom, actually. Fearmongering rarely has any relation to actual truth, because the fears warned about are usually so over-the-top as to never actually come true in the real world. For instance, remember the "death panels" people like Sarah Palin warned us Obamacare would create? Obamacare's been law for many years now, with nary a death panel in sight. 'Twas always thus, with fearmongering.

Donald Trump and the Republicans in general are in an awfully tight spot over the issue of healthcare. It seems the Republicans are finally realizing that the upcoming midterm elections are being largely fought over the issue, and that Democrats are winning the public opinion battle hands-down. So Republicans are now reduced to making a "Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?" argument over the specific subject of pre-existing conditions. Democratic candidates are rightfully pointing to all the congressional votes, lawsuits from state attorneys general, and rhetoric that Republicans have been deploying against Obamacare for years now, which culminated in the defeat of their "repeal and replace with nothing" bill last year. Now Republicans are -- rather incredibly -- trying to argue that they are the ones fighting against removing protections for those with pre-existing conditions. It's as if they're hoping the public will just conveniently forget how they tried to destroy such protections a very short time ago.

As a direct result of this battle, the public (or the "mob," if you will) has moved sharply to the Democratic position. Obamacare is now popular. And this popularity has given rise to politicians like Bernie Sanders proposing "Medicare For All" (or the less-far-reaching "Medicare For All Who Want It"). These ideas are growing in popularity now as well.

Which is why Trump (or his handlers) felt it necessary to write his recent article. Because, according to him, Medicare For All will destroy "Medicare as we know it." It will somehow do so by giving seniors dental and vision insurance coverage, and allowing others to participate in Medicare. How this destruction of Medicare will happen is never really explained in the article, though, because it makes no sense whatsoever.

The irony is thick on the ground, here. Medicare itself was the socialist danger Ronald Reagan warned America about, back in the 1960s. Now Republicans are positioning themselves as the champions of this socialistic program, while at the same time warning the public that socialized medicine will somehow destroy Medicare, and turn it into government-run healthcare. My irony-meter just exploded, I should mention, while I was writing that.

Republicans have been attempting to destroy Medicare for decades. Paul Ryan wanted to end Medicare as we know it and turn it into a voucher program where the vouchers wouldn't buy seniors much of anything in the way of health insurance. And now, somehow, they're supposed to be the saviors of Medicare? They're going to protect Medicare from the evils Democrats wish to do to it?

This brings me back to my original subject and my long-awaited pivot. Because Republicans "protecting" Medicare gives rise to yet another definition of mob and mob tactics. In this case, the word should properly be capitalized, because these are nothing short of Mob tactics. Organized crime (or "the Mob") has long run what are known as "protection rackets." On their turf, they demand regular payments from business owners for "protection." What this money actually buys is protection from the Mob itself, though. This is exemplified best by the classic gangster line: "Nice place you got here... be a shame if something happened to it, wouldn't it?"

This seems to be exactly what Trump is saying, except he's trying to extort votes instead of money. "Nice government-run socialistic Medicare you got here... it'd be a real shame if someone snuck in in the middle of the night and destroyed it, wouldn't it? Trust us -- just vote for our guys, and we'll make sure that doesn't happen." It's hard to fit the threat of turning Medicare into government-run socialism (since it already is that) into this equation, but then again since it makes no sense whatsoever, it's hard to fit into any sort of logical reasoning, really.

My bet is that Trump's Mob tactics are simply too late to have any effect. The public is already aware of who is trying to make Medicare (and healthcare in general) better and who is trying to make it much, much worse. They saw this on display in the "repeal and replace Obamacare" debate, and they have not forgotten. Democratic candidates for the midterms are running over half of their ads on protecting healthcare, just in case any of the people have forgotten who was on which side. Republicans are -- quite laughably -- trying to pull the wool over everyone's eyes by claiming that they are now the protectors of Medicare and pre-existing conditions, but my guess is that they're not going to have much luck, seeing as how this stance is 180 degrees from the reality of the situation.

Republicans are left with nothing but fear to run on, really. This is why Trump is stoking as much fear as he can at his rallies. He warns of Democratic mobs wreaking vengeance, but in doing so he only points out the fervency of his own opposition. Instead of "mobs," though, Democrats should point to the original meaning of the term: mobile vulgus. The people are mobilized. They're angry. They're taking to the streets, as they have been since the first day Trump was in office. The passion has not cooled. If anything, it's gotten more intense.

The mobs which Trump fearmongers about may have a new name, though, in one month's time. Because if you get a big enough mob, it can only be called "a majority." Which is what is supposed to rule, in America. After all, this is the system we created after our own mobs violently threw the British out, over two centuries ago. At that time, in fact, the term "mob rule" was used as an epithet (and as a warning) against the concept of democracy itself. Majority rule and mob rule were seen at the time as one and the same thing. Whether mobs are a good thing or a bad thing is always in the eye of the beholder, after all.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

25 Comments on “Mob Mentality”

  1. [1] 
    Paula wrote:

    It's going to be interesting so see - if this is determinable - how many Repubs are/were willing to vote GOP when they know their healthcare is on the line. I mean, they can claim to believe a lot of utter nonsense when, deep inside, they know it's nonsense because it doesn't actually touch them. MS13 gangs and all that - they can talk about being terrified when, as they go about their days, no ravening gangs ever appear, etc.

    But people are acutely aware of the status of their medical coverage. And majorities of Americans distrust GOP on that.

    Since just about half of eligible voters don't typically vote I suppose it's possible that most Dems and Independents and a bunch of non-voting people distrust GOP on healthcare, while the 25-30% of the population that is the GOP, are they same people who swallow all the socialized medicine nonsense and maybe, actually believe all we need to do is "make plans available across state lines." So those idiots may well vote for Repubs and then bitch when they lose healthcare.

  2. [2] 
    Paula wrote:

    Kick/Liz: Just saw this little tidbit: Former VP @joebiden will present this year’s #LibertyMedal award to former President George W. Bush and former First Lady @laurawbush for their commitment to veterans.

    I don't think that's going to endear Joe Biden to a lot of Dems.

  3. [3] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Biden-Bush 2020? :D

  4. [4] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    And here I thought this would be aboot how once someone gets made in the Mob (taking Big Money contributions) that they were owned and controlled by the Mob (the Big Money interests).

  5. [5] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    C. W... Now we are in my wheelhouse.

    The origin of 'The Mob' can be dated back 2800 years to the Athenians. It is a broad term for 'the mass' or group of people with similar intention. It's a simplistic definition of 'Mob' that restricts it to political groups or gatherings. Moreover, I'd suggest apt synonyms of 'the Mob' would be, rabble, masses and multitude, all of which can be applied to a group of people, jostling in line, vying for Boxing Day sales. A mob is simply a group of people who share a common goal (it could be just a bread line.), a vulgus not necessarily drawn into a cohesive political movement.

    'Illegitimi non carborundum' is the only advice I can offer up for the politically squatting. Trump's, and indeed, the NRA's contention that universal healthcare is some kind of thin end of a wedge, inexorably tied to their egregious definition of 'socialism', is nothing short of incitement.

    As I proved, beyond a doubt, democratic socialism isn't a governmental 'free-for-all' of Joe and Jane Doe's tax dollar, to be frittered on a social net. Universal healthcare in Canada doesn't cost Canadians a cent more than the equivalent service in the US costs Americans, in fact, folks in the US pay much more for a social prerogative that was so important to the framers of the US constitution, that they chose to address it in the preamble of the text.

    I still don't get what the rightwing see in a vulgarian such as Trump. He's not of the sweaty-brow ilk that constitutes the bulk of his support. One has assume, the first semester at Trump University dealt exclusively with the buying and selling of snake oil.

    LL&P

    *I'm taking odds on Trump blaming the left and the 'deep state' while Wall St. readjusts itself over the next few weeks. 1-1

  6. [6] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Hey CW, just a note on those “death panels” Palin was talking about... “death panels” had already existed for decades — they were the insurance companies refusing to pay for potentially life-saving treatments due to the cost/pre-existing conditions!

    ObamaCare actually ended that group of “death-panels”!

  7. [7] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Paula
    I don't think that's going to endear Joe Biden to a lot of Dems.

    I doubt most Democrats will ever hear about it, but even so, just because I didn’t care for Bush’s presidency doesn’t mean that I should ignore the good he has done for our veterans since leaving the White House.

  8. [8] 
    Paula wrote:

    [5] JTC: I still don't get what the rightwing see in a vulgarian such as Trump. He's not of the sweaty-brow ilk that constitutes the bulk of his support.

    You are making a common mistake. Blotus' coalition isn't primarily working class people or poor people - it's very much middle/upper-class white. He is LOSING the college-educated portion of the GOP, especially the college-educated women, but they voted him in originally and plenty are sticking with him.

    [7] Listen: Yes, Bush and his consciousness of guilt. After creating millions of wounded vets, he felt a need to "do something" for them. Bush also felt a need to help get Kavanaugh seated, coz he's such a good guy.

    Biden participating in a ceremony that HONORS GWBush for ANYTHING actually turns my stomach.

  9. [9] 
    Paula wrote:

    [7] Listen: doesn’t mean that I should ignore the good he has done for our veterans since leaving the White House.

    So after arranging to kill and wound millions of people over a lie, Bush should be rewarded? If he did anything real to help Vets that's good, but after doing the crime he should be rewarded for trying to ameliorate the damage HE caused? Is that what atonement is?

  10. [10] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    [7] ", just because I didn’t care for Bush’s presidency doesn’t mean that I should ignore the good he has done for our veterans since leaving the White House."

    By that logic, Trump is working Bush's side of the street when he creates problems and then accepts acclaim for diffusing them. NAFTA, N.K, Iran, trade wars etc...

    I see no nobility in that.

    LL&P

  11. [11] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Paula, here's a lesson in political tactics, courtesy of Mr. Biden:

    Notice who wasn't at that ceremony? Trump. Except for the odd General, the room was filled with moderate Republicans and conservative democrats, or as Fox calls them: never Trumpers.

    These are the 'lost boys' of our current political landscape. They've been threatened (see CW's post, above, it's very good, and I recommend it), belittled and generally demeaned in every manner by the Trump faithful, and some of the folks in that crowd are conduits to tons and tons of political donor money.

    If they happen to believe that a Democrat like Biden is their ticket out of political limbo, why not? Worth a shot, anyway.

  12. [12] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Eric Holder: "When they go low, we kick them."

    No, no. Go Samuel L. Jackson on 'em:

    "Motherf*cker, drop to the floor is your response to this f*cking situation? Get your mother f*cking ass up off the motherf*cking floor before I stomp you like a motherf*cking bug, motherf*cker."

    :}

  13. [13] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    By that logic, Trump is working Bush's side of the street when he creates problems and then accepts acclaim for diffusing them. NAFTA, N.K, Iran, trade wars etc...

    I see no nobility in that.

    It’s one thing if Trump is diffusing a problem that he had just caused, but Bush is being honored 10 years after leaving office. If he has continued to support our vets all this time, then that is commendable. Bush was the President, but Cheney was the one calling the shots when it came to the war and it is pretty clear that he lied to Bush about what was actually going on. Not giving Bush a free pass on Iraq, but I don’t believe he knew we were torturing prisoners. I am guessing that he believed that there were WMD’s as Cheney had assured him, too. Cheney should be made to answer for his war crimes charges as far as I am concerned!

  14. [14] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Not giving Bush a free pass on Iraq, but I don’t believe he knew we were torturing prisoners.

    Don't give him a pass. He and the rest of the top-level Administration officials that were involved knew that small-t torture, at least, was going on. Their ideological motivation was well known, too: it was perfectly embodied in the character of Jack Bauer in the television series 24 that was popular at the time, in which Kiefer Southerland, playing the spy racing the clock, repeatedly tortured bad guys to gain information that advanced the plot. The belief among the GOP faithful that the tactic worked led not only to the policy, but also to the inclusion in the movie Zero Dark Thirty of the erroneous assertion that critical information was obtained through torture that led to Osama Bin Laden - which has since been thoroughly debunked. In fact, information obtained through torture has proven to be singularly unreliable, and experts have often decried its use as both unnecessary and counterproductive.

    But it's still popular with the Right because it sounds like 'getting tough' with enemies. It's a deadly and stupid form of swagger.

    It's also popular with autocrats because, quite separate from its use in intelligence gathering, it's also useful for instilling fear in one's enemies. Mobsters used to sometimes stage killings to be deliberately grotesque in order to send a message to their rivals. The Soviets (and KGB in particular) did the same.

    I doubt that the Right considers the issue settled. After all, they just installed one of the lawyers that helped to legally justify torture for the Bush administration onto the Supreme Court.

  15. [15] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    [13] I'll happily consider your premise, if you consider mine.

    'Bush was the President, but Cheney was the one calling the shots when it came to the war and it is pretty clear that he lied to Bush about what was actually going on.'

    Would you consider this... The invasion of Iraq was actually a familial vendetta Bush jr decided to end on behalf of his father?

    It's no secret, Bush the elder had 'very close ties' to the Hussein regime before, during and after the Iran/Iraq war. Rubbing out Saddam might have been foremost on jr's mind when his administration were casting about for another villain after UBL vanished from sight.

    I simply don't buy this notion that Bush was unaware of the Iraqi ruse, I didn't buy it at the time...Trump is running the same play with Iran as we speak, his gang are arguing, against the advice of allies, that Iran is being naughty with nukes...without a shred of actual proof. It's the same play, only without all the spectre of 9/11 to fuel it. Oh...and this time, they got Netan-the-yahoo to bring the bristle board and pointers.

    LL&P

  16. [16] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    conservative support for donald is not ideological, it's transactional. since he gets them a lot of what they want, they turn a blind eye to the rest.

  17. [17] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    conservative support for donald is not ideological, it's transactional. since he gets them a lot of what they want, they turn a blind eye to the rest.

    Agreed. Or as one columnist put it: conservatives finally tired of fighting (and losing) the usual political fights over policy, finally turned to a Mob guy - Trump - to push their preferences through.

    The hit they take to their respectability is outweighed in their minds by his effectiveness, but the South and certain boroughs of New York (and New Jersey) notwithstanding, bosses don't generally do well with voters long-term, else constitutional democracy would have withered and died long ago.

  18. [18] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    [16] 'conservative support for donald is not ideological, it's transactional. since he gets them a lot of what they want, they turn a blind eye to the rest.'

    I agree also. The true test of ideological adherence will come with the zealots...they have their man in a robe...let's see if the rubes commit themselves to Trump as full-throatily, now all their Christmases have arrived at once.

    LL&P

  19. [19] 
    Paula wrote:

    Conservative support for Blotus may be transactional vs. idelogical but that in no way makes it less heinous (in case anyone thinks it does make it less heinous). In some ways its even worse because it's so cynical and sociopathic.

    OTOH, I'm not sure that's even true. People who want to destroy the social safety net are motivated by SOMETHING - they believe SOMETHING. What is it they believe and how does that differ from ideology? First definition on ideology I found is: a system of ideas and ideals, especially one that forms the basis of economic theory or policy.

    "Conservatives" favor a lot of policies on economic grounds (falsehoods) and went along with Blotus because he'd do what they wanted re: taxes and social safety net. Why isn't that ideological?

  20. [20] 
    Paula wrote:

    Indeed, "conservatism" is almost entirely ideological in that conservatives appear to hold onto beliefs -- like trickle-down -- that are manifestly flawed. Evidence DOESN'T support trickle-down, yet Conservatives/Republicans are still running around flapping their jaws about job creators.

  21. [21] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    conservative ideology is based on the primacy of freedom as espoused by barry goldwater.

    https://www.questia.com/library/147342/the-conscience-of-a-conservative

  22. [22] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    Mobs and political parties are fueled on anger and outrage. When an election is just days away, anger and outrage drives the vote, and Republicans these days produce lots of reasons to be outraged. Mostly, at the local level, it comes and goes.

    For the clueless bastards living fifty years ago under the landing lights of approaches into IAH airport, in a quiet county of exurban Houston in the next few days, it isn't going to go that smooth. Maddow just angered and outraged her audience of about 3 million not-Republicans tonight over the vote suppression tactics of Waller County.

    That's just the tip of the berg, though, because it's ignited on Twitter now, and FB, and, by tomorrow, YouTube. It's just politics, of course, but for the white guys who run a sleepy little county on the banks of the Brazos, it's going to be long couple of weeks.

  23. [23] 
    Kick wrote:

    And if you don't do this and if I don't do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free. ~ Sarah Palin

    Silly Sarah was right about spending her sunset years telling her children what freedom was like, but that's only because her spawn keep landing in trouble with the law and in jail for drunken brawls and assaulting lots of people.

  24. [24] 
    Kick wrote:

    Balthasar
    12

    No, no. Go Samuel L. Jackson on 'em:

    "Motherf*cker, drop to the floor is your response to this f*cking situation? Get your mother f*cking ass up off the motherf*cking floor before I stomp you like a motherf*cking bug, motherf*cker."

    And if that doesn't work, you have your purple lightsaber as a backup. ;)

  25. [25] 
    Tzx42 wrote:

    Would single payer manifest socialism? By this definition . . .
    "Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production as well as the political theories and movements associated with them. Social ownership may refer to forms of public, collective or cooperative ownership, or to citizen ownership of equity" . . . By this definition. I am not so sure.
    The abuse of the term socialism by the Right as one of their favorite boogeymen and scare mongering epithets, is dismaying.

    Is a public institution in any way "owned"? It is simply a cooperative endeavor by taxpayers and voters-the public. Single payer would not be the seizure of the privately owned health insurance companies. It would simply take those private companies out of the health insurance business. They would be free to "insure" other things. If the proposal included the nationalization of hospitals and all health care provider's businesses, that would be different.
    So, Chris, your simplistic labeling of Medicare as socialism makes me uncomfortable. It appears to me that you are being sucked into the Right wing's framing of the issue. Words and language matter, and the Right wing knows it.

    Maybe I am just splitting hairs, but I see a clear divide between "ownership of means of production" and public institutions. Insurance being implemented by for profit, privately owned companies or by a publicly operated organization is by no means any sort of "production". Rather, it is the channeling of money from the consumer (people needing health care) to the providers (the health care industry).

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