According to a new poll from Gallup, a love for socialism is on the rise in America. While a majority of American adults still see socialism as a bad thing for the country, the number of people who think otherwise has jumped to an alarming 43%. As Gallup notes, this is a massive sea change from 1942, when a survey found that only 25% of Americans thought the country should begin adopting socialism. But then, that was before the media made stars out of people like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Of course, there are other factors affecting the rise of socialism’s popularity. For instance, Americans currently have a confused idea about what socialism actually is. “Previous Gallup research shows that Americans’ definition of socialism has changed over the years, with nearly one in four now associating the concept with social equality and 17% associating it with the more classical definition of having some degree of government control over the means of production.”
In other words, a lot of Democrats voting “Yay, socialism,” are really just endorsing some vague kind of feel-goodery where women and minorities have “justice.”
This is particularly obvious when we move on to another question in the Gallup survey, which asks Americans to decide who should be in control of various economic activities: The federal government or the free market?
Technological innovation? 75% say the free market should control that.
Distribution of wealth? 68% say free market.
The overall economy? 62% give the nod to the free market.
To put it another way, Americans are beginning to say they want “socialism,” but when push comes to shove, they don’t actually want anything of the kind. Even when it comes to areas like healthcare and college education, a slim majority wants to see the free market determine the way forward. Looking ahead to 2020, that spells trouble for Sanders and his insurgent wing of the party. He may come to find that the more people realize what he’s actually talking about, the less they want him to be the Democratic nominee.