America and its leaders are in love with the free market

As anyone who has ever been on the losing end of a verbal duel knows, when you can’t win based on your arguments, you have a chance at victory by changing what the argument is about. Conservative critics of the Obama administration’s policies have influenced public debate by turning their attention from the policies themselves to the political ideology they represent.

U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, R-SC, said in response to Obama’s state of the union address, “Earlier this week, we heard the world’s best salesman of socialism address the nation.” Former presidential candidate and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said, “Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff,” in reference to the new president’s policies.

Association with socialism carries a stigma in American society both because of America’s history and political and military antagonism towards Communist countries and antipathy towards the system itself. Socialism is as frightening to a room of red-blooded Americans as a week in the Whole Foods-less boondocks is to a group of argula-starved city-dwellers.

The same reasons that socialism is so effectively invoked as a specter of doom make the allegations of a socialist revolution in the White House absurd.

No symbol in American culture is more enshrined than that of the individual triumphing over adversity, a theme in inherent opposition to any system that promotes the collective over the individual. Self-reliance and independence are signal values of our society.

That most American of icons – the cowboy – is someone who lives and works alone without help from anyone. There is no story or popular trope in America revolving around Comrade Boris, who goes to work in the foundry every day and does everything he can to help the party.

American culture has a love affair with stories about individuals bucking the system in order to succeed. S.E. Hinton called her novel “The Outsiders” for a reason. Robert Frost didn’t write about following all of his comrades on the government-built road. Americans are endlessly fascinated with stories about people who spurn the collective to take their own path.

No culture that values individual self-determination and accomplishment as much as America does would stomach extensive government invasion into the economy and private life.

The fact that America has resisted the urge to adopt policies involving even more government intervention in the face of the recent economic collapse is also a testament to the country’s resistance to socialism. Most observers acknowledge that a lack of government regulation and oversight contributed to the economic crisis, but Congress has done nothing to alter the structure of America’s economy in the aftermath, which would be the reaction of many governments to the same situation.

Instead, Congress has acted to do what it sees as helping business and individuals within the existing economic structure. Effectiveness aside, bailouts of banks and other major financial institutions are not intended as a government power grab but an attempt to revive free market commerce in its previous state.

With unemployment at 8.1 percent and the economy hemorrhaging almost 2 million jobs over the past three months, the fact that Congress and the president have not taken drastic action to restructure the economy is a sign of the country’s dedication to the free market.

The policies of the Obama administration in response to the economic crisis are quite the opposite of socialism, even if the means may involve increased government intervention in the short run. Conservative critics of President Obama are like the free market’s jealous, obsessive lovers. Any flirtation with increased government intervention is seen as a sign of adultery. In the long run, DeMint, Huckabee and others have nothing to fear.

America and its leaders have been and always will be madly in love with individual determination and the free market.

Amy is a freshman in math and is hoping that the government will nationalize her column and take over writing it.