To be honest, I don't have the best feel for what real socialism is like. You see, I have never lived under the soul-searing, random-acts-of-evil, dictatorial, system called socialism - and neither have most conservatives.
But I can listen to people that do. People like Milks Forman, who lived under Czechoslovakia's iron boot ( (article). People like Ayn Rand, whose book Atlas Shrugged gives a pretty good description of a real socialist country (but it has no knowledge whatsoever about what a real capitalistic country looks like)
And none of them are moronic enough to think Obama, the Democrats, or any liberal politician (with the possible exception of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont) is a socialist.
Hallmarks of socialism are:
- Government forcing people to buy/use SPECIFIC products, not general classes of product. (That is, requiring people to buy this particular brand of food, car, etc.)
- Government using reasons besides health to require the purchase of a general class of product. (All governments require people to buy brakes on their car, wear hard hats in dangerous places, etc. etc. - and yes, etc. includes health insurance).
- Government preventing people from doing harmless, safe work without restrictive license. Examples include limited number of taxi licenses, any license for cosmetic/hairdressing jobs, any license for massage, etc. (Note, many local governments - particularly republican ones - do this even in part of capitalism. They generally don't know they are being socialist when they do so - but they are.)
- People are afraid of talking poorly about the government. If you aren't afraid to talk about how horrible the government is, then you are not in a socialist country. If anyone can go on even local TV or local radio and badmouth a sitting president, it's not a socialist country.