I've always felt that the American people have good values, but that those values are often misled and given false information in order to have the American people support things that are against their values. The Iraq war for instance. However, given time to learn what's going on, the American people will wise up, and act in their interest of peace and economic justice.
Just how much the Republican party dug its own grave is apparent in two polls.
According to Pew research, only 27% of the American people identify as Republican. 36% identify as Democrats, and of the 37% who identify as independent, more lean Democratic than Republican.
What is truly striking though is the Rasmussen Reports study on American's views on Socialism and Capitalism. I think it's important to point out the fact that this poll was even taken, shows a new era in terms of socialism in America. It shows that it is no longer out of the question. A fact shown by the fact that only 53% prefer Capitalism to Socialism. Decades of anti-Communist propaganda has been undermined by reality itself. 20% prefer socialism, and 27% are unsure which is better. That's about 60 million people in a country of 300 million who prefer socialism.
Many have speculated that the poll can not be trusted. I think the poll is more or less accurate.
One criticism is that there are no reliable figures on public opinion of socialism in the US throughout the years. True, however, the poll was conducted as scientifically as any other. I suspect that future polls on the subject will lead to more nuanced statistics and will help to create a record of America public opinion about socialism.
Another criticism of the poll is that many American's don't really know the difference between Capitalism and Socialism. On one hand, there is a point to this criticism. Many American's don't receive an adequate education, it seems that our government would rather spend money on bombs than schools. I mean, this is the country where more than a third of the people who live here believe that the US government planned and was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. There is also a lot of misinformation about both economic systems. Some of the propaganda put out there is simply absurd, straw man arguments that wildly misrepresents both sides of the argument.
While I doubt many American's would be able go into the details of how either economic system works, I feel like they have a general idea of the values and philosophies behind such economic systems. Capitalism, according to even it's proponents like Milton Friedman and the fictional Gordon Gecko (imitated by thousands of pathetic business students and stock traders), is about greed. Socialism is fundamentally about ending poverty, and helping each other. I think most American's understand that.
One segment in particular understands that better than any one. The youth of America. Only 37% of American's under 30 years old prefer capitalism to socialism. While 33% of the under 30 crowd prefer socialism to capitalism. This is a major story that no one has picked up on. 33% of America's youth prefer socialism. Only 27% of American's consider themselves Republican. While this means that of the 37% of America's youth who prefer capitalism, many of them are Democrats, they are at least Democrats who are willing to ally themselves with with socialists. The question is who is leading that alliance, and whose interests are going to be represented in that coalition?
Why is America's youth so open to socialism? I would primarily contribute this to a lake of propaganda clouding their judgment. They have no memories of anti-communist hysteria. They know only that socialism means food, housing, health care, education, and jobs for all. They know that socialism means peace and gay rights. That sounds good to them.
This is the generation that watched American foreign policy backfire on September 11th, fought the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, watched New Orleans drown and watched the global capitalist system collapse. The generation that has created a gift economy around music and crippled the corporate music behemoths. This is the generation that elected the first Black president. They are open to new ideas about how to run the economy.
One has to wonder: when will the political parties begin attempting to woo this new important voting bloc? Or will those who prefer Socialism have to form their own party?
I recommend people read Carl Davidson's article “Eleven Talking Points on 21st Century Socialism.” I think he has some good ideas on how to move forward towards socialism in the current political landscape.