The short answer is yes because he would replace history’s most successful economic theory (as measured by generalized prosperity and systemic economic growth), with its least successful (as measured by the same metrics).
Now to the important question – what is a socialist?
In strict theoretical terms, socialism is the abolition of private property, everything being owned by the government. Functionally, socialism consists of the government owning “the tools of production”, that is, all business units. Politically, socialism encompasses government control of the economy. In real-world terms, it is the degree to which decision-making is centralized versus individualized.
Socialism is, by any definition, un-American. In the very first document penned by the Founders, they made unambiguously clear their views on the supremacy of the people over government by stating as unalienable rights Life (defense), Liberty (political freedom) and the Pursuit of Happiness (economic freedom). The Articles of Confederation, the second document penned by the Founders as a group, clearly demonstrates their view as the “Pursuit of Happiness” meaning a meritocracy when they stated that residents of the several states would enjoy the full range of rights and privileges granted residents of the United States, save “vagabonds, paupers and fugitives from justice.” This primacy of the people over the government is reaffirmed in their third document, the Constitution of the United States of America, where the Tenth Amendment (penned by the authors) states that powers not enumerated in the Constitution do not belong to the government. All of this is further discussed at length in the Federalist Papers, authored by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, which discussed the Constitution with the residents of New York prior to its ratification.
Does this endorse unfettered laissez faire markets? No, it does not. The Constitution specifically gives the federal government jurisdiction over interstate commerce, for example, and yields to the states the authority to regulate business within their boundaries. Their vision was one of placing jurisdiction to the closest practicable level of government to the problem: federal jurisdiction over only those issues not adjudicable by the states; state jurisdiction over only those issues not adjudicable by the counties; county jurisdiction over only those issues not adjudicable by towns and cities. It is a minimalist view of government, the only way to maximize individual liberty – the point of the Enlightenment and the purpose of the Revolution.
The philosophical differences between “government knows best” and the American vision couldn’t be clearer. What about practical differences?
The Founders were imminently practical people. They were farmers, merchants and shopkeepers. They understood that local solutions to local problems were always more efficient, fairer and swifter than those made at a distance. They wanted to solve their own problems, decide their own fate. They were tired of constantly having their successes punished by central government – the Stamp Act, the Molasses Act, the Stationary Tax, and all the other Intolerable Acts. They saw this as not just an attribute of an indifferent British Crown, but a natural devolution of centralized governance over free peoples. The best way to keep governance responsive to the governed (as opposed to its own desires) is to keep it as close to the people as possible. That a person’s grievance in Cleveland can be addressed from Washington, like gardening from the second floor balcony with tools tied to sticks, doesn’t mean it should be. The more remote, the bigger government gets, the more self-interested, the less efficient, the less responsive it gets.
In addition to, again, handing ones destiny to absentee rulers, erecting a highly centralized government ensures a bloated, unresponsive, inefficient and self-interested bureaucracy that is closer to the Crown than the Constitution. “From each according to his ability to each according to his need” is a subsistence outlook, devoid of hope or achievement. It also assumes an altruism of human nature that just isn’t there, hence the Ten Commandments, Hammurabi’s Code, and all that has followed.
Is the president a socialist? I don’t think so, but his programs are definitely aimed at taking day-to-day decisions out of the hands of individuals and moving them to Washington. His vision of America is vastly less generous toward the governed than it is toward the government. His view of government ensures decreasing political and economic freedom to the governed. I don’t view his philosophy of governance to be wrong because it’s evil, rather to be insidious because it doesn’t work.