November 6, 2019

A brand-new poll has some chilling information about how Americans feel about socialism, but the results are really the latest reminder that many people—especially millennials—don’t really know what socialism is all about.

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation recently released its fourth Annual Report on US Attitudes toward Socialism, Communism, and Collectivism, and the results were alarming. 70% of Millennials (Americans between the ages 23 and 38) said they are either “extremely likely” or “somewhat likely” to vote socialist. And only 57% of Millennials believe that the Declaration of Independence better guarantees freedom and inequality over the Communist Manifesto.

As with other recent polls, however, the Victims of Communism survey indicates that what young Americans like when they say they like “socialism” is simply a greater role for government. Almost half of Millennials say that the government should provide a job to anyone who wants to work but can’t find a job. Nearly the same percentage believe that all higher education in America should be free.

But what young adults today do not understand is that, although the idea of things like free college tuition sound enticing, socialism in its true form kills the innate competitive spirit of human beings. By its failure to promote the potential of their people through incentive-based institutions, centrally planned governments deprive the human race of their drive and puts economies in shambles.

With the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall happening this week, it’s an especially appropriate to reflect on the impacts of socialism. But Americans today seem to be forgetting the realities of what socialism can do—and has done—to people and societies. In the Victims of Communism survey, more than 7 in 10 Americans incorrectly said that Communism has killed less than 100 million people in the last 100 years.

This lack of understanding is why it’s so important to remind Americans of what socialism has wrought and fight to ensure that Americans have the freedom that enables them to live their lives as they choose. Earlier this year, U.S. Representative Dan Crenshaw said in an address to business leaders that fans of socialism will always want to push for increased government control over our lives, and that’s why those who understand that freedom is a better path “start off with principles of free markets and protection of personal property rights and understanding that that’s government’s role: to create the infrastructure and the environment for people to thrive and compete.” (Rep. Crenshaw will be a guest speaker at the Goldwater Institute’s Annual Dinner this Friday, November 8, in Scottsdale, Arizona—you can purchase your ticket here.)

Fortunately, there is a silver lining in the Victims of Communism poll: About two-thirds of Americans 35 and under say they trust themselves more than the community or the government. Embracing political philosophies that would take more power from them and move it to government simply doesn’t make sense. At the core, Americans understand that they know better than government institutions about how to run their own lives—and the Goldwater Institute will continue to fight to ensure that they are empowered to do just that.

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