Capitalism? Socialism? For Democrats, It’s Really Bernie vs Donald.

Gallup has a new poll out showing that Democrats now feel more favorably toward socialism than capitalism. But a few folks have pointed out that this isn’t due to increased warmth toward socialism; rather, it’s due to a sudden distaste for Trump-era capitalism. This is true as far as it goes, but the full story is a little more complicated. Here it is:

Approval of socialism took a sudden smallish jump in 2016. This was presumably the Bernie effect, which persisted but didn’t increase this year. But Bernie had zero effect on support for capitalism. The warmer attitude toward socialism was purely a personal thing.

Likewise, this year’s drop in support for capitalism didn’t improve the outlook for socialism, Alexandria Ocasio-Sanchez notwithstanding. Once again, it appears to be more a gut reaction to what Republicans and Trump are doing with tax cuts and the economy generally.

That’s my take, anyway. For Democrats, this isn’t the sharp ideological choice that it is for Republicans—who almost unanimously approve of capitalism and hate socialism. Basically, a fair number of Democrats like Bernie, whatever he calls himself, and hate the Republican version of the economy, whatever they call it. That’s really all these numbers mean.¹

¹So far.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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