A February Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll suggests that the future of America is trending toward socialism as an economic system.
According to the poll, which surveyed registered voters between February 19 and February 20, 56 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 24 (typically known as Generation Z) favored an economy that was “mostly socialist” in nature, and 48 percent of millennial-age voters between the ages of 25 and 34 agreed.
While the programs themselves aren’t socialism (the traditional definition of socialism is workers owning the means of production and selling products on the open market), initiatives like Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vermont) Medicare for All bill, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-New York) proposed 70 percent top marginal tax rate on incomes exceeding $10 million/year, or Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Massachusetts) proposed tax on high-net worth individuals are perceived as socialist in nature.
And these policies consistently poll well with the American public. 68 percent of voters in a January Harvard/Harris poll supported Medicare for All. Also last month, a survey from The Hill and HarrisX found that 59 percent of respondents supported raising the top marginal tax rate to 70 percent. And a Politico/Morning Consult poll released in early February found 60 percent support among voters for Sen. Warren’s wealth tax.
Socialism has come under intense scrutiny by the GOP, especially by President Trump, who’s using it as ammunition for his 2020 re-election campaign. Also, most of the current presidential candidates on the Democratic side have distanced themselves from the socialism label, including Senator Warren, who considers herself a capitalist. Beto O’Rourke has also came out and called himself a capitalist when asked about his stance on capitalism versus socialism. O’Rourke hasn’t thrown his hat into the Democratic primary ring just yet.
Bernie Sanders, however, has announced his intentions to seek the Democratic nomination and is seen by most as the face of democratic socialism. Other candidates such as Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) are considered to be leaning towards a capitalist agenda as opposed to socialism.
Young people have been trending toward socialism over the past decade, since the end of the Great Recession. A Gallup poll from August of 2018 found that among Democratic voters in the 18-29 age demographic, 51 percent of respondents held a favorable view of socialism, with only 45 percent saying they favored capitalism. In 2010, the percentage of young Democratic voters who liked capitalism was at 68 percent. And according to Brookings, millennials are arguably the largest voting bloc in America.
Brandon Howard is a Grit Post contributor, auto worker, and former public radio reporter based out of Lexington, Kentucky. Follow him on Twitter @mrpowerhoward.