What's Behind Socialism's New Appeal Among Americans?

Victor Davis Hanson

Multiple forms of socialism, from hard Stalinism to European redistribution, continue to fail.

Russia and China are still struggling with the legacy of genocidal communism. Eastern Europe still suffers after decades of Soviet-imposed socialist chaos.

Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea, and Venezuela are unfree, poor, and failed states. Baathism—a synonym for pan-Arabic socialism—ruined the postwar Middle East.

The soft-socialist European Union countries are stagnant and mostly dependent on the U.S. military for their protection.

In contrast, current American deregulation, tax cuts, and incentives, and record energy production have given the United States the strongest economy in the world.

So why, then, are two of the top three Democratic presidential contenders—Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren—either overtly or implicitly running on socialist agendas? Why are the heartthrobs of American progressives—Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.; and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.—calling for socialist redistributionist schemes?

Why do polls show that a majority of American millennials have a favorable view of socialism?

There are lots of catalysts for the new socialism.

Massive immigration is changing the demography of the United States. The number of foreign-born U.S. residents and their children has been estimated at almost 60 million, or about 1 in 5 U.S. residents. Some 27% of California residents were born outside of America.

Many of these immigrants flee from poor areas of Latin America, Mexico, Africa, and Asia that were wrecked by statism and socialism. Often, they arrive in the U.S. unaware of economic and political alternatives to state socialism.

When they reach the U.S.—often without marketable skills and unable to speak English—many assume that America will simply offer a far better version of the statism from which they fled. Consequently, many take for granted that government will provide them an array of social services, and they become supportive of progressive socialism.

Another culprit for the new socialist craze is the strange leftward drift of the very wealthy in Silicon Valley, in corporate America and on Wall Street.

Some of the new progressive rich feel guilty about their unprecedented wealth. So they champion redistribution as the sort of medieval penance that alleviates guilt.

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