You may have seen headlines like this one reporting the findings of a recent Gallup Poll: Four in Ten Americans Embrace Socialism. That might suggest that free enterprise, which made America the world’s greatest economic power, is losing ground to the system that gave us the Soviet Union, Cuba and Venezuela. But the story is more complex than that.
Yes, 43% of Americans surveyed called socialism “a good thing” while a bare majority (51%) labelled it “a bad thing.” But, if you were to read past the first worrisome paragraph of the poll, you’d find the respondents were also asked what they understood the term “socialism” to mean. As Gallup reports, nearly one in four associated the concept with social equality and only 17% with government control over the means of production.
Indeed, of eight categories Gallup cited, ranging from redistribution of wealth to health care, only two – on-line privacy and environmental protection – found a majority favoring government action over private initiative.
As might be expected, Democrats are friendlier to socialism than Republicans by a wide margin, 57% to just 16%. But even there, Gallup notes that “several (Democratic) candidates with socialist leanings lost their primary bids (last year) “raising doubts about the depth of Democrats’ embrace of socialism.”
Likewise, young people fresh out of the indoctrination that in some quarters passes for education, only slightly tilted toward socialism (51%), roughly the same percentage as ten years ago, leftwing late night “comics” notwithstanding.
In short, this is no time to lose heart. The people are with us even if some of the media isn’t. It’s up to us to back conservative causes and candidates.