Forty-three percent of Americans think socialism would be a good thing for the United States, while a slim majority — 51 percent — of those surveyed in a Gallup Poll released on May 20 think it would be a bad thing. The figures contrast markedly with a Roper/Fortune survey taken in 1942, in which 25 percent of those polled described socialism as a good thing, 40 percent as a bad thing, and 34 percent did not have an opinion.
An article published by Gallup on May 20 noted:
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. A majority of Democrats have said they view socialism positively in Gallup polling since 2010, including 57% in the most recent measure in 2018.
Gallup’s continuation of its commentary on the poll results is also telling:
Gallup first asked Americans in 1949 about their outlook on the spread of democracy over the next 50 years. At that time, seven in 10 Americans (72%) predicted that most countries in the world would have a democratic government. It's important to note that in much of the political rhetoric of the time, the terms democracy and capitalism were more intimately intertwined than they are today, perhaps synonymous to many.
If Gallup’s observations are accurate, we might very well attribute the slide towards acceptance of socialism in America and also the favorable view of “democracy” among most Americans, to the failure of our nation’s government-controlled schools to teach their students the proper definitions of this “political rhetoric.” The abandonment of history classes in favor of more ambiguous “social studies” is very likely a key factor in this lack of education.
In May 2013, The New American published a condensed version of the classic essay, “Republics and Democracies,” first delivered as a speech by Robert Welch, the founder of the John Birch Society, on September 17, 1961.
Welch noted, “By the time of the American Revolution and Constitution, the meanings of the words ‘republic’ and ‘democracy’ had been well established and were readily understood.”
He observed that as early as 1775, John Adams had pointed out that Aristotle (a Greek), Livy (a Roman), and Harington (an Englishman) all “define a republic to be … a government of laws and not of men.”
The essay quoted multiple statements made by our founders indicating that their decision to establish a republic and not a democracy (which they warned against) was deliberate and made after much consideration.
Knowing the difference between a republic and a democracy is essential to understanding why socialism (to which “democracy” invariably leads) is a complete contradiction to — and repudiation of — the constitutional republic established by our founders. If more Americans understood these terms, the results of the Gallup poll would have been very different.
Image: seb_ra via iStock / Getty Images Plus