Earlier this summer a Gallup survey asked respondents to answer the following question:
Between now and the 2016 political conventions, there will be discussion about the qualifications of presidential candidates—their education, age, religion, race, and so on. If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be _______________, would you vote for that person?
The survey provided some interesting findings, such as 25 percent of Americans would not vote for an evangelical Christian. In contrast, fewer people said they would not for a Mormon (18 percent), Jewish (7 percent), or Catholic (6 percent) candidate.
But while that particular finding is disconcerting (at least to Evangelicals like me), there was another result that was even more troubling. The survey found that 46 percent said they would vote for a socialist while 50 percent said they would not.
If you’re a “glass half full” type of person you may find that result reassuring. After all, half of Americans would not vote for a socialist. But keep in mind that nearly half of Americans would also refuse to vote for a Democrat or a Republican.
The numbers are even more disconcerting when you break them down by political party affiliation: 59 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of Independents would vote for a socialist candidate, as would one in four Republicans.
It’s difficult to know if this willingness to vote for socialists is a new trend or has been around for decades. Although Gallup has been asking about candidates backgrounds since 1937, this is the first time they’ve included the question about socialists in their survey.
The real concern, however, is not that a self-identifying socialist will become POTUS anytime soon (sorry Bernie, it ain’t your year). The worry is that people who would vote for an actual socialist will have no qualms about voting for candidates who support socialist-like policies.
For years, the political left has been claiming that inequality is the most pressing economic problem—and too many people are starting to believe it. The left has set that up as the “problem” because socialism is the only “solution.” When asked to give his “elevator pitch for socialism“, the senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said,
My elevator pitch is that the United States has a grotesque level of income and wealth inequality where the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, where almost 20 percent of our children are living in poverty, 40 percent of African-American children are living in poverty. We are moving rapidly toward an oligarchic form of society where a small number of families control not only the economy but our political system as well. It is imperative that we develop a strong political movement that says to the billionaire class they cannot have it all.
Most concerns about inequality—such as those expressed by Sanders—are driven by envy. Unfortunately, envy is a sin that is not only popular but is politically respectable. Envy-driven messages will resonate with many voters, which is why we must constantly remind them that electing socialist-style candidates not only won’t solve the “inequality problem” but will lead to financial disaster for our nation. “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess,” as Margaret Thatcher said, “They always run out of other people’s money.”