The socialist Economist endorses Obama

Since 1843, the magazine has supported free markets. Wha' happened?

By Andrew Leonard
Published October 30, 2008 6:50PM (EDT)

McCain supporters can try, if they like, to dismiss The Economist magazine's endorsement of Barack Obama for President of the United States as yet another piece of evidence that the liberal media is in the tank for Barack Obama.

And they would be right -- if what they meant was Liberalism as advocated by Adam Smith and John Locke, a liberalism that encompasses, as Wikipedia handily defines it, "freedom of thought and speech, limitations on the power of governments, the rule of law, an individual's right to private property, free markets, and a transparent system of government." Such is the proud credo of The Economist.

Established in 1843 to campaign on one of the great political issues of the day, The Economist remains, in the second half of its second century, true to the principles of its founder. James Wilson, a hat maker from the small Scottish town of Hawick, believed in free trade, internationalism and minimum interference by government, especially in the affairs of the market. Though the protectionist Corn Laws which inspired Wilson to start The Economist were repealed in 1846, the newspaper has lived on, never abandoning its commitment to the classical 19th-century Liberal ideas of its founder.

Which makes it all the more amazing that such an august defender of free markets would endorse a socialist redistributionist like Barack Obama who wants to "spread the wealth" accumulated by Economist subscribers and hand it over to people who presumably think that David Hume is a Fox anchor.

But then, Matthew Yglesias informs us that The Economist has a habit of endorsing the candidate of the non-incumbent party. "Thus Clinton, Dole, Bush, Kerry, Obama. So it hardly qualifies as a huge surprise."

Fine. But take a closer look. Clinton and Kerry both supported progressive taxation -- therefore, they are unrepentant socialists. George Bush, he who went before the nation and pitched the $700 billion bailout, is undoubtedly our most socialist president since FDR. Dole? Well, Dole's tricky. I think it's possible that The Economist got confused -- in the U.K., being "on the dole" means living on government welfare. Clearly socialistic.

The Economist is exposed: All socialists, all the time, for president.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama Globalization How The World Works