In just two terms, President Obama made significant headway in moving the U.S. economy toward his goal of socialism. No longer a free-market economy, ours currently resides in that economic never-neverland known as statism. Should a Democrat win the presidential election of 2016, that person will, no doubt, try to take the U.S. economy the rest of the way to full-fledged socialism. The Democrat may not succeed in this regard, but he or she will certainly make a concerted effort. For this reason, it is important for Americans to understand that although socialism is clearly a misguided economic system, it is not just a misguided economic system. Unfortunately, it is much more.

An economist will define socialism as a centrally planned economy in which the government controls the means of production and distribution. This is a somewhat sterile definition that is like defining inoperable cancer as just an illness. Socialism is much more than just an economic system. It is a worldview based on the premise that the state knows best what you should think and how you should live. Socialism seeks government control of all aspects of the individual’s life, and uses the power of government to reduce productive, contributing people to the same level as those who are less productive and contribute little or nothing to the economy or to society. This is what Barack Obama means when he blithely talks about “fairness” and “redistributing wealth.”

With socialism, the state is supreme and all problems have the same solution: government. In a socialist system, responsibility is replaced by an aversion to responsibility, and charity is replaced by government entitlements. A government entitlement is charity by force, which is not charity at all. It is legalized theft. When the state becomes supreme and government becomes the solution, the entrepreneurial spirit, work ethic, freedom, and liberty quickly become casualties. Thanks to so-called progressives like Barack Obama, America has contracted the disease of statism or socialism-lite and there is already evidence that freedom, liberty, entrepreneurship, and the work ethic are suffering the effects of it. This is a point that all Republican candidates will need to drive home to Americans during the current presidential campaign.

Due in part to the erosion of the entrepreneurial spirit and traditional work ethic coupled with mounting government regulations American businesses have been struggling since 2007. Even as the president touts his economic recovery, Americans still have little confidence in where our nation is heading economically. After enjoying decades of economic prosperity, America fell on hard times during the recession that began in 2007. That recession is over but the after-effects still linger in the hearts and minds of Americans who lost much if not everything because of it. Although poor leadership, bad management, and questionable decision-making on the part of business executives contributed to America’s economic woes, the bigger culprit is the federal government.

The Obama administration’s socialistic response to America’s economic problems made the recovery longer and slower than it should have been and the economy—though not in recession—is still tepid at best. His policies—designed to keep the poor in poverty and dependent on government handouts—are pushing our country deeper and deeper into the murky swamp of socialism where restrictions on individual freedom are the norm, the entrepreneurial spirit is drowned in bureaucratic muck, and the traditional work ethic is replaced by an entitlement mentality. Elect a Democrat in November 2016 and the United States will take the last remaining steps to socialism.