Socialism is finally getting the American honeymoon it never got in the last century. But American federalism’s division of power between a national government and fifty sovereign states makes difficult, if not impossible, the unified economic planning necessary to supplant capitalism. Decentralization of power, the Constitution’s Framers hoped, would not just promote government effectiveness but would also protect individual liberty by encouraging Washington and the states to check each other.
Our Constitution’s fundamental decentralization of power does not prevent many Americans from wishing for socialism anyway. A 2019 Gallup poll found that 43 percent of adults believed socialism to be “a good thing” and 47 percent even reported that they could vote for a socialist candidate for president. While a bare majority still opposes socialism, that view loses popularity among younger Americans. Since 2010, their attitude toward capitalism has deteriorated to the point that millennials view both capitalism and socialism with equal favor at about 50 percent. That contrasts with baby boomers, who support capitalism over socialism by 68–32 percent, and Gen Xers, whose support is 61–39 percent.
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