The result of the failure of Donald J. Trump’s presidency would be a socialist government in the United States. That’s the opinion of American Conservative Editor Robert W. Merry – who is obviously no fan of socialism.
Merry; who is also something of a presidential historian, is somebody we should pay attention to because he was one of the few U.S. journalists to suggest (correctly) that Trump would win the Presidential election in September 2016. Merry’s latest hypothesis is that the failure of Trump, would lead to socialism in the United States.
This hypothesis is based on the theory that American presidential elections are largely a referendum on the party in power. Merry’s proposition is that Trump; who ran under the center-right Republican banner, won because of popular dissatisfaction with Barrack Obama’s center-left Democrats.
Will the Next U.S. Election be a Referendum on Capitalism in America?
The basic idea here is that voters will blame conservatives (and the Republican Party) for Trump’s failures. There is some validity to this Trump has appointed one of the most conservative cabinets in decades and he’s widely admired by rank and file conservatives.
Any failure of Trump is likely to turn future presidential and congressional elections (like the one scheduled for 2018) into a referendum on conservativism, and perhaps capitalism. A major reason for this is that Trump has wrapped himself in the capitalist flag; touting his “business prowess” and his status as a billionaire.
Voters are likely to equate Trump with all businessmen, and view his party the Republicans as the party of business. Since the popular standing of business; and finance, is already low in the United States because of the 2008 economic meltdown, pro-business politicians like Trump are already in a difficult position.
Socialism is Popular in America
There is some statistical evidence to support Merry’s argument; polls indicate that socialism is unexpectedly popular in America these days.
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont); who likes to describe himself as a “democratic socialist” is the most popular politician in America according a Harvard Harris study from April, The Hill reported. Sanders had a 57% approval rating compared with 42% for Hillary Clinton and 44% for Trump.
Interestingly Sanders was one of the few national political figures in the U.S. whose approval rating exceed 50% among those polled. That indicates Merry might be onto something here.
Tellingly 80% of Democrats had a favorable view of Sanders. That might make Bernie; or a surrogate; such as U.S. Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota), a favorite in the 2020 Presidential election.
There are also some polls that indicate younger Americans are predisposed towards socialism. A Reason Rupe Poll from February 2015 found that 58% of college-aged Americans had a favorable view of socialism. A YouGov poll from January 2016 found that 35% of Americans under 30 had a “somewhat favorable” view of socialism.
American Billionaires like Socialism
Nor it is just young people and Democrats who are embracing socialism in America; surprisingly some of the nation’s richest people are advancing socialist solutions.
The second richest man in the United States; Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, went on national television (the PBS News Hour) to promote single-payer health insurance. Buffett’s argument is that health insurance costs are out of control and a threat to long-term prosperity. He noted that the percentage of the US gross national product spent on healthcare rose from 5% in 1960 to 17% in 2016.
America’s fifth richest man; Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, used his commencement address at Harvard to endorse the idea of basic income. Even the “billionaire president” Donald J. Trump is an outspoken advocate of single-payer health insurance. Trump actually praised Britain’s National Health Service on a popular late night talk show; Dave Letterman, shortly before launching his presidential run.
Why is Socialism Suddenly Popular in America?
The reason for socialism’s popularity in the United States is the same rationale for Jeremy Corbyn’s success in the United Kingdom: the inability of the present system to meet average people’s needs. A perfect example of this is falling incomes.
Data released by the Pew Research Center in May 2016, indicates that both the middle class and middle class incomes are shrinking in America. Some of Pew’s findings include:
The median income of U.S. Households in 2014 was 8% lower than in 1999.
Middle class households lost ground financially in 222 of the 229 of the metropolitan areas surveyed by Pew.
The middle class is making less money than it did in the 20th Century; in 1999 the average middle class household made around $77,898 a year. By 2014 that number had dropped to $72,919. That means the average American family is making $5,000 less than it was at the turn at turn of the century.
Many Americans are struggling economically and there seems to be little hope for them on the horizon. America’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a rate of 1.6% in 2016 and 1.4% in first quarter 2017, hardly the growth the struggling multitudes need.
America is Already More Socialist than You Think
Another reason why socialism is becoming more attractive in the USA is that more Americans are becoming dependent on the government for income and healthcare.
Around 30% of Americans over 55 have no money saved for retirement; meaning they will be dependent on Social Security (basic income for the elderly) after retirement, The Guardian reported. Such people will be attracted to any politician or philosophy that promises to raise their benefits. As will tens of millions of Americans already dependent on the government.
Around 62 million Americans now depend on Social Security (which also provides basic income for the disabled), the Social Security Administration reported. There are also 55.3 million Americans dependent on Medicare (single-payer health insurance for the elderly and disabled) and 74.5 million Americans that depend on Medicaid and CHIP (single-payer healthcare for the poor and children).
This means more than one third of Americans already get their health insurance from the government, because the current US population is around 326 million. These figures prove the United States already has single-payer healthcare; or socialized medicine, even if Republicans refuse to admit the obvious truth.
Other groups attracted to socialism include young American college graduates. The average member of the class of 2016 owed $37,172 in student loan debt up 6% from 2015, Student Loan Hero reported. Around 44 million Americans owe $1.4 trillion in student loan debt – an amount that exceeds the nation’s credit card debt by $620 million.
Such numbers explain why tens of thousands of college students; and recent graduates, turned out for Bernie Sanders’ rallies when he ran for President last year. Sanders’ platform included a provision replacing the student loan system with government financed college tuition paid for by a transfer tax on investments.
It looks as if America is rapidly moving towards some sort of socialist system. That system will be euphemistically labeled “progressive,” but nobody will be fooled. The question we need to ask is not if America is turning socialist – but how socialist will it turn? Nobody knows the answer, but the US is likely to go farther down the socialist path than most Americans are willing to admit.