In 1942 — following the economic horrors of the Great Depression — just 25% of Americans said some degree of socialism would be good for the United States. Today, more than four in ten Americans express warm attitudes toward socialism. Perhaps even more telling, according to fascinating research by Harvard Business School’s Michael I. Norton and Duke University’s Dan Ariely, with regard to inequality, a whopping 92% of Americans would choose to live in an economy that looks more like Sweden’s than America’s.
And as much as Trump and hard-line Republicans call any idea they don’t agree with “socialism,” the simple fact is that the choice America faces going forward isn’t between capitalism and not-capitalism but between elitist, corrupt, unequal capitalism and a capitalism that actually works fairly for everyone, including working people. Smart capitalists are reading the tea leaves. They’re watching mass uprisings around the globe, often based on the sorts of economic grievances that animated Occupy Wall Street and even, to an extent, the early anti-bailout Tea Party.
The bankers and traders and shareholders and CEOs know that if they don’t help fix capitalism’s ills now, there are going to be people in their corporate lobbies wielding pitchforks. It’s in corporate America’s best interest to reform capitalism now rather than, by doubling down on inequality and intransigence, invite a full-scale revolution. Which means in this moment, Elizabeth Warren isn’t corporate America’s worst enemy. She’s their best hope.