As you have seen here and in the news, President Barack Obama has started a war against House Republicans over Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, claiming the the spending cuts being proposed to domestic programs is “social darwinism.” Over at Cato @ Liberty, David Boaz takes Obama to task for the level of discourse he’s using to bash Republicans:
[H]eadlines this week report that President Obama accused the Republicans of “social Darwinism,” and I don’t see anyone exercised about that. A New York Times editorial endorses the attack.
Is “social Darwinist” within some bound of propriety that “socialist” violates? I don’t think so. After all, plenty of people call themselves socialists — not President Obama, to be sure, but estimable figures such as Tony Blair and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Members of the British Labour Party have been known to sing the socialist anthem “The Red Flag” on the floor of Parliament.
But no one calls himself a social Darwinist. Not now, not ever. Not Herbert Spencer. The term is always used to label one’s opponents. In that sense it’s clearly a more abusive term than “socialist,” a term that millions of people have proudly claimed.