A recent alarm-ridden headline on the Drudge Report had Senator Bernie Sanders lead President Trump by nine points in a presidential poll. Nobody should take such polls seriously: as Rush Limbaugh has reminded us, an incumbent president is practically always trailing prospective challengers a year and a half before he is up for re-election.
It's usually pretty difficult to get good information about public attitudes towards socialism, but the past month has been a real watershed. First came a Gallup poll that I covered here which asked whether various political concerns should be managed by the government or the free market. Now comes a poll by Axios asking respondents what "a socialist system" means to them. The results, I think, are pretty intuitive, though they also send a mixed message to activists and intellectuals working within the historical socialist tradition.
The answers in the Axios poll are compelling but not very surprising. The percentage of poll responders who associated specific features with socialism varied as one would expect, given that no American under 30 has any living memory of the Soviet Union:
1. Universal healthcare: 76%
2. Tuition free education: 72%3. Living wage: 68%4. State-controlled economy: 66%5. State control and regulation of private property : 61%6. High taxes for the rich: 60%7. State-controlled media and communication: 57%8. Strong environmental regulations: 56%9. High public spending: 55%10. Government ’’democratizes’’ private businesses — that is, gives workers control over them — to the greatest extent possible: 52%
A key finding is that fewer than half of the people polled thought that dictatorship and worker-owned businesses were part of socialism. This should not be taken as a sign that people reject socialism, simply that they differentiate - perhaps just semantically - between socialism and communism. The former would be seen as democratic, while the latter is perceived as a dictatorship.
If so, the next question is whether or not they understand that socialism inevitably collapses into communism. They probably do not;those in the poll who believe socialism means economic redistribution (items 1-3, 6 and 9 above) may very well have a favorable view of all these policy reforms. If so, they associate the provision by government of these benefits as form of democracy.
-In May some poll showed a lot of people were for it, so he was, too.
Sanders, of course, has more ideological backbone than the mayor from South Bend. In fact, Sanders is so bold in his beliefs that he just proclaimed "the dawn of democratic socialism in America".
And right here, we begin tying back to the aforementioned, very serious danger that socialism presents to our Constitution.
It does not take much scratching on the surface before the democratic veneer comes off the Trojan socialist horse and its authoritarian inner is exposed. In fact,according to the Washington Times (print edition, June 13, pp. A1 and A8) the socialist Senator from Vermont suggests
it's time the country moves beyond the liberties enshrined in the Constitution and embraces a new set of human rights promises including free college education, guaranteed jobs and better retirements.
When now-defunct socialist madman and former president Hugo Chavez met resistance to his socialist agenda from Venezuela's national legislature, he gradually encroached on their constitutional powers, eventually simply replacing the country's existing legislature with a new parliament to his own liking. He also emptied out the country's Supreme Court and filled it with judges to his own liking.
Despite his growing grip on power, he was not satisfied. Socialists never are. Chavez even used natural disasters as a pretext to expand his own powers at the expense of the legislative branch. His successor, Maduro, has continued concentrating powers into his own hands, making a mockery of the final remains of anything "democratic" in Venezuela's government.
Socialists prefer dictatorial powers because it makes the implementation of socialist doctrine much more expedient. They see parliamentary democracy as a step on the way toward their favored goal: as I explain in my new book Faith and Freedom: The Moral Case for America (due out later this year) a parliamentary system is far more easily ruled by majorities; they do not grant minorities nearly the same right to resist ideological agendas carried by a popular-vote majority.
- Curbing free speech and deeming non-socialist opinions as various forms of morally reprehensible language ("hate speech" is the modern version); and
- Constitutionally banning both ownership of and advocacy for private property (a popular method in Eastern Europe during its communist era).
There is only one way to prevent this from happening. It has to do with the beginning of this article, namely what people define as socialism. The only way the Republican party can stop this socialist takeover is by
a) explaining to middle-class America why the entitlements that they associate with socialism are bad, in other words why they should not be provided by government;
b) presenting their alternative solutions; and
c) convincing middle-class America why their solutions are better than what the socialists offer.
They have to do this for each and every one of the items on the list above. If they do this well, they will decisively beat the socialist agenda in 2020.