By Jon Queally
Common Dreams (1/19/20)
As Democratic primary voters get ready to head to the polls beginning next month for the first votes of 2020, a reminder was issued Sunday that a majority of voting-age American women between the ages of 18 and 54—and just shy of half the people overall—would prefer living under under an economic system that more closely resembles the democratic socialist Nordic countries compared to the winner-takes-all capitalism that currently dominates in the United States.
Not raving Marxists clamoring for a state-run economy or communists calling for the abolition of private property, but the Harris poll conducted for “Axios on HBO” last year revealed that four in 10 Americans overall would rather live in country that provides a more comprehensive set of universal programs and a broader, more protective social safety net.
That percentage rose dramatically from 40% up to 55% when looking at American women between the ages of 18 and 54, noted Axios’ Felix Salmon and Alexi McCammond in a political analysis—titled “Capitalism’s discontents“—published Sunday.
“Capitalism has failed most Americans in recent decades. Instead, it has created an economy which feels—and is—deeply unfair. Tapping into that wellspring of resentment will be a major source of political support for all successful candidates in 2020.”
According to Salmon and McCammond: “When Americans say they want to live in a socialist country, they don’t mean they want to live in a Marxist command economy. Rather, they mean that they want universal health care, tuition-free education, and a decent day’s wage for a decent day’s work.”
Though the Harris poll was published in June of 2019, the Axios‘ journalists argued Sunday that similar findings have been shown elsewhere and are likely to have real relevance now that the 2020 primary season is about to begin.
While Sen. Bernie Sanders is the only 2020 Democratic presidential candidate who self-identifies as a democratic socialist and openly argues that the Nordic countries—such as Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and others—provide an attractive economic model to emulate, the Axios reporters say the “bottom line” is that a debate about the economic future of the country could have real impact in this year’s national elections in the United States.
Failure of capitalism
A separate Gallup poll in May of 2019 also showed that approximately 40% of Americans believe socialism is a “good thing,” and—as Common Dreams reported at the time—it’s likely not a coincidence that such a finding corresponds with the rise in popularity of politicians like Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
“Capitalism has failed most Americans in recent decades. Instead, it has created an economy which feels—and is—deeply unfair,” argue Salmon and McCammond. “Tapping into that wellspring of resentment will be a major source of political support for all successful candidates in 2020.”
Massive inequality, they added, “has become impossible to ignore both economically and politically, especially now that the U.S. is led by a billionaire president.”
Sanders himself touched on that idea when he sat recently with the New York Times editorial board to discuss his candidacy and accused President Donald Trump of demagoguery for exploiting the legitimate economic anxieties of the American people to sow racism and division.
The political assessment by Salmon and McCammond also pointed to a recent study by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—published earlier this month—that showed the drastic differences in both outcomes and life-satisfaction between people who are rich, working- and middle-class, and those living at or below the poverty line.
“It is simply unacceptable in a country as wealthy as ours that so many people lack sufficient income to pay for health care, housing or even food,” said RWJF President and CEO Rich Besser, in a statement about the study’s findings. “We need to address income inequality if we truly want everyone to have a fair and just opportunity to live the healthiest life possible.”
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