Normally, a blog post in the Washington Times stays just that — a blog post.
But yesterday’s post that Obama’s new slogan “Forward” has illicit ties to socialism and communism is possibly the dumbest thing to go viral on the far-right since Donald Trump’s candidacy and/or considering a national default. If you want to save yourself the brain cells and not read the article, it argues (more like awkwardly explains a Wikipedia litany,) that “Forward” has, in the past, been the name of socialist publications and party newspapers. And now, Barack Obama has chosen it as his slogan. Why this has any relevancy on US politics or our election remains to be seen — but the insinuation seems to be clear, Obama is secretly telegraphing that he is a socialist to the (apparently?) millions of Americans who are secretly socialists.
There’s just so much wrong with this. First off, that anyone on the Right took it seriously — and a quick google search proves that they did — suggests just how giddy folks are to share even the silliest thing that re-enforces the false notion that the President is some kind of secret communist.
Next, the entire idea that a US political slogan “Forward” has something to do with socialism smacks of a total lack of both a political education and an understanding of branding. If “Forward” is a secret communist telegraph, then what the heck does “Take Our Country Back” mean? Did Bush’s “Keep Us Safe” or “Strong America” have anything to do with fascist anthems of national unity? What’s next? God Bless America is suddenly out the window because Islamists also invoke God’s blessing?
Taking it a bit further, the right needs to kill off, rather than give a second life to the idea that the President is a socialist. He’s going to be campaigning as a moderate pragmatist. He’s actually logged a few tax cuts while in office. He just signed a bill that boosts start ups. He’s yet to back gay marriage. His most socialistic idea since taking office, the public option (which wasn’t even really his..) was to create a government corporation that competed with private insurance companies. Socialists nationalize public utilities. They take over private transportation companies. They shut down foreign investment. He’s not a socialist. Be happy he isn’t. He’s an economic liberal. The right needs to stop saying he’s a socialist, before they force Romney into saying it, and losing even more of his credibility.
This has nothing to do with socialism. This is just the slogan that dial-tested best during focus groups.
The problem isn’t so much that some dope at the Washington Times wrote this, (their other strokes of brilliance include a suggested article that popped up while I was reading the “Forward” piece called “Obama Embracing Islamists?”) but rather that the Right-leaning Internet took it seriously. Team Obama is about to spend a billion dollars blasting “Forward” into every American voter’s home (well okay, just those in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida,) and the Right is focused on whether or not it has something to with 20th century communist newspapers.
If connecting Obama to long-dead Soviets is the gameplan for how right-wing blogs online are going to act in 2012, we may as well just start planning Obama’s second inauguration now. An increasing number of Americans are getting their news online, and relying on blogs for their information. The online right has a pivotal role to play in electing a new President. Talking about socialist newspapers is not the way to go.