In the last couple of Presidential elections, many of the pollsters were embarrassingly off the mark in their read of the American public. One pollster, however, has put together an amazing run. After proving to be America’s most accurate national poll in the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, IBD/TIPP did it again in 2020. IBD/TIPP has now been the most accurate in each of the last five presidential election cycles.
IBD/TIPP doesn’t only ask Americans about their Presidential preference, however. They do polls on many topics. Each poll uses the same scientific methodology that has proven so accurate for them. Their latest poll asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with the following simple statement: “The U.S. is evolving into a big government socialist state.”
By 51% to 31%, Americans agreed the U.S. is moving toward socialism. Among the remainder, 18% said they were “unsure.” The poll had a margin of error of +/-2.8 percentage points.
How is it possible that the most economically successful country in the history of the planet is headed toward the repeatedly failed economic model of socialism? The simple answer may be human nature.
Human beings, regardless of geography, culture or the moment in history, have an unwavering desire for change. Clothing styles come and go. Hairstyles come and go. Religious beliefs sweep over an entire continent, only to be replaced over time by some contrary belief. The only constant is change.
Americans, in particular, are funny. The four-year-old family car may run perfectly fine, has no visible dings or dents, and, most importantly, is paid in full. Yet, someone in the family sees a newer model, determines it is more attractive and insists on swapping it out, usually at great expense. Human nature is to want change, regardless of the consequences.
Perhaps the best commercial example of this phenomenon is the iPhone. Each time Apple announces a new iPhone is available, literally, millions of people ditch their prior model because they “must” have the latest and greatest. I often ask my excited friends what the new model can do that their existing phone can’t, and more often than not, they can’t answer. They just know there is a new one, and they want it.
So it is, apparently, with the American public. The U.S. standard of living far surpasses most of the world. Grocery stores have an entire aisle of nothing but cereal. Another 100-foot aisle has nothing but soda choices. Still, another is filled with potato chips. America is literally the land of plenty. You will not find that variety of choices in socialist countries.
Our country was also founded on the notion that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed, but it is tied to personal responsibility. If one is willing to work hard and can bounce back from life’s inevitable bumps, most Americans have the chance to do better than their parents. Some succeed beyond their wildest dreams.
Yet despite a two-decade parental investment of love, time, money and whatever the latest fad may be, what does nearly every teen do? Espouse how her parents know nothing, don’t understand her and then she insists on changing as much as she can. That change may include moving to a different city. It may include school or the military. It may show itself in body piercings or tattoos. Unfortunately, the youthful insistence on change may include drug or alcohol use.
A young adult wanting to blaze his own path is perfectly natural. What is perplexing, however, is that in his zest for self-determination, he often fails to recognize all the good his parents have provided. The teen’s insistence on change, primarily for the sake of change, too often ends in disaster. Poor choices may beat his or her own path, but that path may be one of destruction.
So it is with the American public’s march toward socialism. Much like the teen who fails to recognize that though mom and dad may not be perfect, they did provide a lot and continue to have much to offer, the American public seems to have blinders on as to all the benefits capitalism has brought. It’s not the perfect model, and sometimes people can be victims of unfair circumstances, but capitalism has provided the greatest opportunity to the greatest number of people. The proof is in the pudding.
In America, cell phones are the norm for 10-year-olds! High school parking lots are full of student automobiles. Parents pay exorbitant fees for their children to play in the high school band, play travel baseball or participate in a music academy. Mom and Dad spend thousands on straightening teeth and on providing the latest clothing styles.
Misguided change, however, is clearly on the menu. Much like the immature teen throwing off the perceived yoke of her parents, America is somehow falling prey to the notion that capitalism is unfair and that socialism is the answer. History tells a remarkably different story.
What is especially interesting is that the IBD/TIPP poll referenced above asked a related question. The response painted an alarming yet clear picture of the difference in American political parties. The question was whether “the government should control or own key industries such as health care and energy.”
Among Democrats, 55% supported the idea, and only 30% opposed it. Government should take over these industries. Conversely, only 26% of GOP voters supported the concept, and a full 64% opposed it. As a side note, a majority of Independents opposed government takeover of industries too.
The point being Democrats not only think America is turning socialist, but they are also cheerleading for it. When pressed to give an example of where the government runs better than private industry, socialist supporters look dumbfounded. Does the Post Office run better than private carriers? Does the VA offer better health care than other options? Nearly every government program, no matter how well intended, is laced with bloat, waste and inefficiency, yet the Democrats want more of it.
The United States cannot march blindly into change simply for the sake of change. When we look at the teens who don’t appreciate what their parents have sacrificed and accomplished, it seems obvious to everyone else. It should be just as obvious that America has provided a tremendous opportunity and unparalleled prosperity to hundreds of millions of people. Socialism has not.
Thankfully in the instance of wayward young adults, after flirting with alternative approaches to life, some eventually return to the values instilled by mom and dad. Let’s hope our nation can do the same. Flirt with socialism if you must. Look it over, but check for its pitfalls and realize it’s simply not a viable alternative to what we have always enjoyed in the United States. Freedom and prosperity.
- Tim Constantine is a columnist with The Washington Times.