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Now that Election 2012 is shaping up as a contest between President Obama and Mitt Romney, an observation and a prediction.

Our nation heads into a presidential campaign with an incumbent whose online birth certificate and Selective Service registration card are almost certainly forgeries, and this is a nonissue. (Don’t ask about the subpoena from a Georgia court that Obama ignored. Everyone else did, too.)

That’s the observation. The prediction is that unless voters come to view Barack Obama as a “socialist” – even a “democratic socialist” – and, as such, an existential threat to our (in theory) constitutional republic, President Obama, funny papers and all, will be re-elected in November.

The two stories are related. Both turn on the relative power of “evidence” vs. “narrative.” By evidence, I mean the facts and clues that support an argument or hypothesis. By narrative, I mean propaganda. For example, there is evidence of fraud in Obama’s identity documents, but such evidence does not fit the narrative that Obama’s identity documents are authentic. In the face of narrative, We the People are supposed to ignore the evidence. All of our officials and elites do.

Similarly, there is plentiful evidence of Barack Obama’s socialist beliefs and ties – Stanley Kurtz’s 2010 book “Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism” meticulously lays it out – but the narrative insists that Obama is anything but a socialist. And, as with the evidence of identity fraud, woe and besmirching to anyone who mentions it.

Now, what do I mean by socialism? Too often, and sometimes by design, defining socialism becomes an absurdly contentious exercise. If we narrowly define socialism as “government ownership of the means of production,” however, we’ll never know what hit us until it’s too late. I found it helpful to learn that Alexander Solzhenitsyn recognized there was no “single precise definition of socialism” out there. This is probably due to vagaries of time and place, and to the fact that, short of a violent revolution, socialism is a complex, messy work in progress. What’s vital to identify is the direction of that progress. If the progress tends toward increasing economic collectivism and political centralization, the movement is socialist. If the progress is in the other direction, the movement is known as capitalist.

By leaps of collectivism and bounds of centralization, Barack Obama has been taking the country in a socialist direction since he took office. I would add, however, that this is the direction the country has been moving since 1933. That’s another story.

But it’s all part of a story we’re not supposed to discuss in concrete terms. This must change this year, or else. Or else what? More and more socialism. That means less and less freedom.

On Oct. 12, 2008, Joe the Plumber – who, today, as Samuel Wurzelbacher is running for Congress – prompted candidate Obama to repeat the socialist mantra, in Obama’s words, that “when you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody.” If you recall, this led to an intense, frenzied media vetting – of Joe the Plumber. Obama and his ties – for example, to the socialist New Party and the socialist front organization ACORN – went unreported in the print and television mainstream, even as new evidence was exploding like fireworks on mainly conservative Internet news sites and blogs, particularly in those final weeks of the campaign.

To date, Mitt Romney has balked at labeling President Obama or even his policies as socialist, probably calculating that the label distracts from his arguments. I implore him to reconsider lest Obama’s and the Democrats’ stealth socialism finish off the country once and for all.

What’s fascinating, meanwhile, is that Obama is underscoring his own socialism by disavowing it – even as no one in the political arena is accusing him of it. Psychologists probably would call this phenomenon “projection.”

Joel Gehrke of the Washington Examiner noted that twice last week Obama defended his economic ideas against charges of socialism – charges no one is actually making. This week, Gehrke picked up on the president’s stated denial that he is trying to “redistribute wealth,” even as Obama touted a plan to do exactly that with the “Buffett Rule.” This rule, as Obama explained to Joe the Plumber back in 2008, “spreads the wealth around” by taxing millionaires at a higher rate to pay for “investments” (a deceptive word for government programs). These “investments,” Obama told a Florida audience, “haven’t been made as some grand scheme to redistribute wealth from one group to another. This is not some socialist dream.”

That’s the narrative, of course. Who really believes it’s supported by the facts?

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