A Gallup poll released this week finds that 43 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of “some form of socialism.” A Gallup poll from last year found that 57 percent of Democrats hold a favorable view of socialism. Polls can be useful, and they can tell us things. But they cannot always tell us why. In this circumstance, there’s probably a lot at work — and the debate against socialism especially matters with Memorial Day drawing close.

We hear all the time that we “don’t understand” what “real socialism” actually is: Communism is not “true” socialism. The Bolsheviks ruined “real” socialism. Cuba, Venezuela, and others are not practicing “pure” socialism. What Bernie Sanders, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, and others on the Left are promoting is “not the same thing” as “complete” socialism.


But the reality is, no matter how varied the form, the root and end of socialism remain unchanged: it is the abrogation of individual, human rights, freedom, and electoral consent in favor of whatever justice the ruling elite of the State determine is needed.

But what accounts for support of even a form of this end?

Partly, it is political. In the past, Democrat support for a border wall was largely seen as commonsensical. Now that Trump supports a wall, the wall is wrong. Because the electoral college resulted in Trump’s election, a new wave of hostility aimed at abolishing the electoral college has arisen. If Trump is representative of free markets, then it naturally follows for those liberals to oppose the free markets and support socialism.

Then, there’s the mistake of materialism. When you have everything, you appreciate it less. There is a difference between living comfortably and living in poverty. The truth is that material ease leads to disenchantment if material ease is what we value, because more is never enough. Too many of us are no longer inspired by the success of others. Instead, we’ve been taught to covet and resent it.

But still, our iPhones, smart TVs, and fancy cars aren’t enough for us. We live as if those sorts of things were the summation of our existence rather than God, love, purpose, family, and freedom. Most of us do not know what it is like to go without food and clean water. One of my grandfathers lived in a shack with a dirt floor, no running water, and no electricity. This is the kind of socialist squalor Venezuelans face, now — not nearly a century ago, but now.

Some of the strongest American opponents of socialism are immigrants from those countries where various forms of socialism have ruined their lives. In the United States, for example, eating rabbit is considered an “experience” one shares with friends. In Venezuela, people are eating rabbits to survive. In the United States, we look to our Armed Forces and law enforcement for safety. In Venezuela, crowds of unarmed protestors are run over by armored vehicles.

But such realities don’t matter where ideas are concerned.

Socialism is appealing because it is an idea counter to reality. It can be altered, morphed, and redecorated at will. It is as disembodied as smoke -but the smoke still remains smoke.

The truth is that human beings are both imperfect, and rebellious. It is why responsible freedom and voluntary consent matter so much in the American way; and it is why force and violence are so crucial to any socialist state that intends to maintain itself. It is why so much of the barbaric and murderous activity of the Soviets was disguised or buried, because the facts couldn’t get in the way of achieving the socialist end -and because the world could not be allowed to see the bloody cost if socialism was to spread.

Then, there’s the fact that most vocal champions of socialism are young and relatable to the rising Millennial generation. To be sure, Millennials did experience economic setbacks during the Recession, so it is tempting to think there is an easy way to move beyond that experience through socialist adjustment. Here, again, ideas resonate more deeply than truth.

Yet we hear it all the time: don’t be afraid of new ideas. But socialism, in any form, is not a new idea. It’s an idea people keep dragging out from the ash heap and redressing, but the end remains the same.

As I’ve argued elsewhere, before, the American Dream is not about TVs and white picket fences. It’s about responsible freedom and informed choices. The American Dream is the chance to be able to determine our own destiny, with God above.

My grandfather looked back on his upbringing not with contempt or hatred, but with a kind of reverent understanding that it was only a beginning, that anything was possible in the United States. He spent part of his childhood in an orphanage, cut ice from the Great Lakes for a living, and then spent nearly three decades of his life in an Army uniform. In fact, both of my grandfathers (the other served in the Navy, then worked as a salesman) always reminded me that everyone could do something in their own way, even in simple, small ways, to better themselves and better America.

Honoring the men and women who have given their lives for our own means not just remembering them, but understanding and advocating for what it is they fought.


Socialism was not it.