Politics, Socialism, Spring 2016 Articles

Socialist Sanders?


In order to explore the popularity of Bernie Sanders on campus, the latest Pack Poll explored the topic of socialism, with special emphasis upon Sanders’ particular take on socialism – which he calls Democratic Socialism.  In order to determine whether or not Sanders’ definition of socialism was acceptable on campus, we asked survey respondents to pick between a Merriam-Webster definition for communism, and Sanders own definition, with the option to choose “other” and then supply their own definition.

A majority of students, 55%, indicated that Sanders definition of socialism was in line with their own, an important distinction when trying to determine the impact of Sanders within the current political climate. Instead of being a harbinger of communism, Sanders should be viewed more as a catalyst for acceptance of a mixed economy. Notably, a majority of Republicans equated socialism with communism, with 53% of Republicans opting for the communist definition, compared to only 15% of Democrats.  Despite hearing the same word, the two partisan groups draw very different meanings.

Even more damning to the prospect of a true cold-war era socialist revival within the U.S. is that, among those who chose the communist answer choice, only 4% of them viewed socialism favorably. So, when thinking about Sanders impact within the Democratic party, win or lose, don’t expect the party to be too different. Sanders isn’t too substantially different from his Democrat predecessors, leading to comparisons to American politicians such as Franklin Roosevelt. Or, as The Who said it – Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Toplines coming soon.

Leave a Reply