Whenever conservatives bring up the s-word in political discourse, indignant liberals recoil at the term. How dare you call us Socialists? Fine. Let's make a deal. We'll abide by a self-imposed cease and desist order on the socialism label just as soon as you guys explain this to the rest of us (see the final line item):
Capitalism -- the system that built America into the unparalleled economic engine and global hegemon that it is today -- is statistically tied with Socialism among Democrats, on the measure of general favorability. (Socialism, in fairness, has been a smashing success across the planet, hasn't it?) Also note Democrats' hostility towards "big business," that awful enterprise that provides needed goods and services across the world while employing millions of their fellow citizens. Less than half of Democrats are favorably disposed towards "the primary driver of economic growth and job creation" in America, according to the Hoover Institution's John Bunzel. Setting aside the socialism news hook for a moment, the stat that really astonishes me is the perception chasm on the federal government. Roughly one in four GOP leaners have a generally favorable view of Washington (who are these people?), while fully three-fourths of Dem leaners give the feds a thumbs-up. Our federal government has run up record deficits, has compiled a frightening national debt, hasn't passed a budget in years, and is generally dysfunctional, wasteful, and inept -- to say nothing of its concurrent lethal scandals. Good stuff, concludes a super-majority of Democrats. I'm mystified. I'll leave you with four points:
(1) The Capitalism vs. Socialism battle is playing out domestically in our very own laboratories of democracy. I know the Texas/California dichotomy is a bit played out, but it's more illustrative than ever. One state regularly balances budgets and is almost single-handedly keeping America's job creation numbers afloat. People have been flocking there. The other state is a fiscal basketcase, is dominated by unions, special interests and regulators, has amassed staggering deficits and unpaid-for obligations, is plagued by chronic unemployment, and has been shedding jobs and residents for years. Both states are governed, in effect, by one-party rule. Republicans control the levers of power in the former jurisdiction; Democrats in the latter. The battle of results is decidedly lopsided -- but as we're learning every day, many Democrats couldn't care less about results.
(2) Perhaps liberals can't bring themselves to register disapproval of the government because they'd see it as a form of self-loathing. After all, the DNC taught us that government is the only thing "we all belong to."
(3) I'm curious about the extent to which these polling outcomes are a function of who's in charge at the moment. For instance, has the popularity of "socialism" increased due to liberals' knee-jerk reaction to hearing people (who they view as knee-jerk conservatives) routinely calling Obama a socialist? And would 75 percent of Democrats give the federal government equally high marks if Romney, McConnell and Boehner were running the show?
(4) Elected Democrats still can't use...the word in public (see the 0:33 mark). Is the stigma of "socialism" waning?
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography