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“There’s a move afoot to change life in America into a totally European – I’ve heard that so much I’m getting sick of it: ‘European’ – socialist thing,” says country-music legend Charlie Daniels, “but it’s the dag-blamed truth [sic], and it don’t work, it never has worked, and if America goes that way, America will never be America again.”

Daniels told WND in an exclusive interview that he expects 2012, with the nation’s very identity on the line, will be “the biggest election we have ever had.”

“In my 75 years on Earth, it’s never been as clear-cut as it is now,” Daniels said. “We’re either going to go into socialism, where part of the people work and the rest of them don’t, and the ones that do will be taxed to death, or – I got the point where I don’t trust politicians anymore, but hopefully – the other side represents, ‘Let’s put America back to work; let’s re-instill the work ethic back in people.’”

Since the 1950s Daniels has been a country singer and famed fiddler, perhaps best known for his hit song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008.

But he also writes frequently on culture and politics, no stranger to bold statements in defense of God and country, and maintains a “soapbox” blog on his website, CharlieDaniels.com.

For Daniels, the word “socialism” – synonymous in his mind with the big-spending, tax-the-rich, government-welfare, spread-the-wealth policies of President Obama and his fellow “progressives” – is a system not only destined for failure, but also inherently tyrannical.

“You cannot enforce socialism without some force,” Daniels told WND. “It’s a very top-heavy society, and every society that’s ever tried it has fallen, because you finally get to where there’s so many people, you cut out the work ethic, you make people think they have to be dependent on government for everything. It’s a mindset.”

Daniels brought up the recent controversy about Chick-fil-A restaurants – in which the Democrat mayors of Chicago and Boston threatened to ban the chicken sandwich makers from their respective cities because the owner is an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage – as an example.

“To me that tips off where these guys are coming from: ‘If you don’t agree with us, we don’t want you in our town, we don’t want you in our country, we don’t want you in our political system,’” Daniels said. “Is it not downright un-American for an elected official to stand up and try to destroy a business? As bad as we need jobs in this country?

“This is not about ‘gay’ marriage; this is about America being America, about people being able to stick by their deeply held religious beliefs and not to have these people trying to put them out of business,” Daniels said. “That’s what this boils down to: Are these people going to try to shut up everybody who doesn’t agree with them?”

Daniels told WND there have been a few people who have tried to silence him, too, to tell him to stick to his music and leave politics alone.

“People say, ‘Shut up and sing.’ Somebody said that,” Daniels said. “But shut up for what? Why don’t you shut up? What do you do? You do something else. You’re a private citizen. Do you think you should shut up? I’m speaking as a private citizen, so I think I have a perfect right to do that.”

And what about the owner of Chick-fil-A Dan Cathy and other Christians like him who are told to leave their religious beliefs out of the public and political sphere?

“That’s a bunch of junk,” Daniels said. “They need to stand up for what they believe in.”

Daniels’ fierce defense of free speech goes hand in hand with what he sees as the solution to America’s economic woes: not some new “socialist” program from Congress that leaves people looking to Washington, D.C. for answers, but a grassroots solution of small businesses, work ethic and a capitalist revival of the American dream.

“You’re talking to a guy who travels coast to coast and border to border every year,” Daniels told WND. “There are bad things going on in this country. Too many empty storefronts, too many closed down businesses – the ‘economic recovery’ Obama has been spinning is not happening. The only answer [socialists] seem to have for it is to try over and over again. Look at the results. Look at the results of throwing money down a black hole in Washington.

“We change the nation by putting people back to work again,” Daniels proffered. “I’m a Christian; I believe in helping people who can’t help themselves. I do not believe in helping people who can help themselves. Instead of putting them on the dole, put them on the payroll.

“I heard a while ago that more people file for disability than file to get a job. Where in the heck is that at?” Daniels asked. “Is that America? Is that what made America great?

“We need to get people back, to employ them,” Daniels concluded, “and it’s never going to be done in Washington. It’s going to have to be done in the private sector.”

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