Georgia State Rep. David Casas didn't like it when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tried to use Mitt Romney's wealth and business experience as a weapon during the GOP presidential primary. So he jumped from supporting Gingrich to Romney, as he explained in a media call staged by Romney's campaign on Tuesday.
And one other thing: Casas says President Barack Obama's policies are Marxist.
"When you see what this current president is doing to this country and his Marxist positions and his Marxist policies, it certainly refreshing to hear someone that doesn't apologize for America; that believes in America's greatness," he said of Romney.
Casas, the son of Cuban immigrants, was asked if he was calling the president a Marxist.
"No, I called his policies Marxist," he said. "I believe that that's certainly what he has been doing for the last four years in putting in an unbelievable treatise on government solutions and moving this country closer and closer to the redistribution of wealth and so when you analyze it that way, his policies are certainly leaning towards Marxist-leftist policies."
Not so, according to a pair of experts.
"He can be criticized for various things but not being pro-Marxist," says James Thurber, director for the Center of Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. "I do not think the policies of the president, as expressed or as implemented redistribute wealth. He's pro-capitalist. He feels there need to be regulations; obviously that's what Dodd-Frank is about in terms of re-regulating the financial industry."
Whoever said Obama was pro-Marxist "is using it as a glib talking point," Thurber says.
"It's like calling someone a communist. It's something we don't like in the United States and it's really a red flag, it's a short term for identifying somebody with extreme politics," he adds.
Michael Kazin, a history professor at Georgetown University and author of American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation, says Marxism is a theory of how society works, not necessarily some specific policy.
"You can be a Marxist and be in the Labour Party in Britain or you could be a Marxist and be living in North Korea. You can apply Marxism in different ways," he says. "What he means is socialist, because modern socialism is associated with Marx. He said that capitalism would evolve into a socialist society either through revolution or through peaceful election."
Kazin says conservatives have long been accusing the left of leading the United States down the "slippery slope" towards communism.
"Clearly conservatives believe that it is a slippery slope from government regulating corporations, government helping to bailout auto companies and banks, governments mandating people buy insurance to something that would be completely socialist, that is, no private ownership of the means of production," Kazin says.
But those are all things that can – and have – happened in a capitalist society.
"Otherwise, you'd have to say Teddy Roosevelt was a socialist, Woodrow Wilson was a socialist, and for that matter Dwight Eisenhower was a socialist," Kazin says. "Under Eisenhower the social security system for the first time covered all Americans; he enlarged the national highway system."
And, Kazin adds, you would also "have to say that most governments in the world are Marxist, because most governments in the world have more power in the economy than our government does."
But Georgia's Casas said he sees it differently.
"[Romney] is an example of a man that's put his talents to work, who has built companies, has built wealth, has created jobs, and it's something that we should be celebrating as an alternative to what we have right now in our president in the White House," he said. "And so it wasn't something I was comfortable with when an opponent in the same party criticizes that. Instead of doing something that resonates with people in general, we should be sticking to our principles and talking about the issues and how we're going to turn this economy around."
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