Did you know there are socialists in the Midwest?
Americans are used to the country's vast rural hinterlands being depicted as Trump Territory " and variants on socialism attributed to East Coast intellectuals and pointy-headed Vermonters.
But the socialist movement has deep historical roots in "flyover country": In the early 20th century, the tiny town of Girard, Kansas was a hub of American socialism, as was Madison, Wisconsin. These days, as The Atlantic outlines, a growing number of young adults in Iowa are at the forefront of the movement.
It's difficult to discuss socialism these days without acknowledging that its definition varies depending on who you're asking.
For Republicans, socialism is often an all-purpose slur used to describe relatively mild ideas like progressive taxation and Medicare, while the rest of the country can use it as a catch-all term for a whole spectrum of ideas and approaches left of "expanding the safety net a little bit."
Labeling an idea "democratic socialism" offers a bit more clarity, but only barely.
But socialists, self-described or otherwise, do seem to agree on one thing, as 27-year-old Iowan Casey Erixon told The Atlantic:
"There is a growing sense that the system is broken."
President Trump, meanwhile, started 2019 with a declaration at the State of the Union that "we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country."
Whether that remains true, though, depends in part on the health of capitalism " and the health of the middle class in this capitalist country. The question, then, is whether or not capitalism seems to be improving American lives. If so, it'll remain dominant. If not, alternatives will look increasingly attractive.
Here are three pieces of evidence that the capitalist system in America is, indeed, broken:
1. Leaders are paving the way for a second massive economic crisis within a generation.
2. It is becoming more and more difficult for the average American to live life sustainably.
3. The party of capitalism put Donald Trump in the White House.
America is the richest country in the world and yet half the population is poor. 80 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and half of all Americans cannot afford an unexpected $400 emergency expense.
Yeah, American capitalism is broken.