Socialist America

John Nichols suggests that all the talk of creeping “socialism” during the Republican primaries and beyond may have actually increased Americans’ positive disposition towards socialism generally:

A new Gallup Poll finds that socialism is now viewed positively by 39 percent of Americans, up from 36 percent in 2010. Among self-described liberals, socialism enjoyed a 62 percent positive rating, while 53 percent of Democrats and independent voters who lean Democratic gave socialism a thumb’s up.

Needless to say, this provoked the predictable fine whine of right-wing media. The conservative Washington Times newspaper declared: “Yes, Democrats, liberals favor socialism.” The Business Insider website announced: “Everything Republicans Fear About Democrats Is True.” William F. Buckley’s old magazine, National Review, allowed as how there is “much that is peculiar, and much that is worrying” about the new polling data.

That reactionary Republicans get a little hysterical at the mention of the word “socialism” is not news. But the reaction to there reaction is. No two groups of Americans talk so much about socialism in so many public settings these days as Republican candidates and conservative commentators. And this appears to be influencing the discourse.

Indeed, it is fair to say that nothing has done more to promote the cause of socialism than the ranting and raving of Sarah Palin, Paul Ryan, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. It’s not just that the right has spread the word about socialism, raising the ideology’s profile to levels rarely experienced in recent decades—if ever—and associating the ideology with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, President Obama and a lot of other programs and people that Americans actually like. The fact that so many agitated, angry and—at least in some cases—politically toxic characters go apoplectic at the mere mention of the ideology has undoubtedly caused millions of Americans who don’t know much about socialism to say to themselves, “Anything that Paul Ryan does not like must have some merit.”

But I have to agree with the National Review assessment that the Gallup survey information “is worrying”—at least for conservatives. The most significant increases in sympathy for socialism over the past two years—since the last time Gallup polled on economic and ideological terms such as “socialism” and “capitalism”—have been among self-identified “conservatives” and “Republicans.”

Advertisements

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s