According to a Gallup poll, 47% of Americans would vote for a socialist president. This is actually the lowest percentage in the poll: 60% would vote for a Muslim president, and 92% would vote for a woman president.
The amount of support for socialism, however, is still a surprising fact to many. After all, as recently as Barack Obama’s ongoing administration, the word “socialism” was used as a derogatory term for his policies. However, this poll shows that socialism might be gaining a foothold in America.
Haymarket Affair in Chicago
The International Worker’s Day, also called Labor Day, is on May 1 internationally. In many places, it is a holiday. It was a direct result of the Haymarket Affair in Chicago, 1886. As early as 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions called for an 1886 movement for the 8-hour work week, starting on May 1.
On May 1, an estimated 80,000 protesters marched arm-in-arm down Michigan Avenue. The movement continued, with more peaceful marches the next day. This was a Saturday and a Sunday, so there were few repercussions.
However, on Monday, workers picketed the McCormick Reaper Plant. Violent retaliation by police caused a peaceful protest, organized by socialist leaders at Haymarket Square. When police arrived, an unknown person threw a bomb, causing panic. Several socialist leaders were tried and executed for the incident, whether or not they had been present.
The Johnson Administration
The administration of Lyndon Johnson, who became president after the assassination of John F. Kennedy during the Vietnam War era, is known for its “War on Poverty” and the “Great Society.” The Johnson Administration enacted a number of policies meant to lower the unemployment of America, if not to eradicate it completely.
One of the consultants of this movement was named Michael Harrington. In 1962, he had published a book called The Other America: Poverty in the United States. It argued that poverty in America was a widespread issue, worthy of national concern. In 1964, Harrington became a consultant to the Johnson Administration.
The 1960s Civil Rights Movement also happened during this time. One of its most prominent leaders, Martin Luther King Jr., admitted in private his economic ideas were more socialist than capitalist. To the civil rights movement leaders, “socialism” was an idea that could create a more equal society for African-Americans to live in.
Democratic Socialists of America
The Democratic Socialists of America is the socialist organization with the largest membership in the United States. They stand for the creation of a more democratic society, through increasing the power of employees and decreasing those of capitalists. They are, unsurprisingly, staunch supporters of Bernie Sanders for President of the U.S. 2016. The organization has even devoted a super PAC to him.
Is The Socialist Movement In America Strong?
Maybe not strong, but it is definitely gaining ground. The decisive win of Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary over Hillary Clinton shows his ideas are generating support with voters. As general equality continues to be a concern and an issue for voters, we just might see the idea of socialism on a rise in America.