Republicans Need to Make the Case For Capitalism, Because Dems and Young People Reject It
In the last 150 years, life has changed miraculously for the better. For the vast majority of human history, ordinary people did not have refrigerators, microwaves, and dishwashers, never mind televisions, computers, and smartphones. Yet the very free market capitalism that drove this expansion in human flourishing is under attack today, and most Democrats and young people prefer socialism to capitalism.
According to a Gallup poll published Monday, 57 percent of Democrats and voters who lean Democrat have a positive view of socialism, while only 47 percent of them have a positive view of capitalism. Similarly, a majority of people between the ages of 18 and 29 have a positive view of socialism (51 percent), while only 45 percent of them view capitalism positively.
As recently as 2012, more Democrats had positive views about capitalism (55 percent) than socialism (53 percent). Young people also favored free markets (68 percent) over central planning (51 percent), as recently as 2010. The popularity of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may help explain this phenomenon, but it doesn't make socialism any more rational.
In the past eight years, Americans have become disenchanted with free markets. In 2010, 61 percent of Americans viewed capitalism favorably, while in 2018 that number dropped to 56 percent, according to Gallup. But Americans have not all become enamored with socialism. In 2010, 36 percent of Americans saw socialism favorably, and in 2018 that number stands at 37.
Republicans aren't buying the big government Kool Aid, however. Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of GOP voters and Republican-leaning Americans had a positive view of capitalism, while only 16 percent expressed a positive view of socialism. In 2012, a full 23 percent of Republicans approved of socialism, but the capitalism approval rate was still far higher, at 72 percent.
Republicans have their work cut out for them. Thankfully, they won't have to painstakingly make the case for free markets in order to win elections. According to a Rasmussen Reports survey last month, a whopping 74 percent of likely U.S. voters prefer a free market system over a socialist system. Only 13 percent think socialism is better, and only 13 percent are undecided.
Even so, conservatives and Republicans still need to make the case for capitalism, because that 51 percent of young people needs to hear it.
As PJ Media's D.C. McAllister argued last November, socialism is tantamount to a mental disorder. She cited Ludwig Von Mises' "Liberalism," in which the great economist traced socialism back to a "pathological mental attitude" born of resentment and "envious malevolence."
"Resentment is at work when one so hates somebody for his more favorable circumstances that he is prepared to bear heavy losses if only the hated one might also come to harm," Mises wrote. "Many of those who attack capitalism know very well that their situation under any other economic system will be less favorable. Nevertheless, with full knowledge of this fact, they advocate a reform, e.g., socialism, because they hope that the rich, whom they envy, will also suffer under it."