The following is a commentary by ABC News' Sam Donaldson. Click here to view a video version of his latest essay.
After Ronald Reagan was shot. he joked to his doctors just before the operation that saved his life -- "I hope you are all Republicans" -- to which the doctors replied, "Today, Mr. President, we are all Republicans."
Well today, with the possibility of another worldwide financial depression staring us in the face, it turns out our doctors are all socialists. Yes, socialism has now washed over free market capitalism and only a very brave, or foolhardy few would protest.
The federal government has nationalized the banks, the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve doors have opened wide and taxpayer money flows faster than quicksilver, and this week, the presidential candidates have each come up with new, immediate relief plans that have the government intervening in a way that costs a lot more money. The candidates have realized, late, but finally, that the economic pain Americans are feeling must be felt now -- thank you, Bill Clinton -- not next January when one of them becomes president.
And how much would all this government spending cost? Who knows. The estimate of what the federal government has put into place so far is well more than $1 trillion, the next fiscal year's deficit may be $750 billion or higher.
Yes, some will cry "socialism" but that cry in today's crowded theater of worried Americans won't stop this train.
Make no mistake; we are living in a new age. Just as we will never go back to a pre-9/11 security mentality, we will never go back to the free market, deregulated economic policies in the same degree that brought us to this crisis.
Sam Donaldson, a 41-year ABC News veteran, served two appointments as chief White House correspondent for ABC News, from 1977-1989 and from January 1998 to August 1999, covering Presidents Carter, Reagan and Clinton. Donaldson also co-anchored, with Diane Sawyer, "PrimeTime Live," from August 1989 until it merged with "20/20" in 1999. He co-anchored the ABC News Sunday morning broadcast, "This Week With Sam Donaldson & Cokie Roberts," from December 1996 to September 2002. Currently, Donaldson appears on ABC News Now, the ABC News digital network, in a daily show called "Politics Live."