Recently, conservative pundits have been having a field day with a new Gallup poll which suggests that Democrats prefer socialism to capitalism. Conservative pundits are fond of pointing out that, when progressives are asked about the socialism they support, definitions elude them.
What's happening here is not difficult to understand.
For the last several decades, one group in America used the word "socialism" almost obsessively: conservatives. After Ronald Reagan's victory against international socialism (communism), the Right got trigger-happy, and started labeling all "big government" programs "socialism."
The political Left has grown tired of defending basic social programs with the argument, "nuh-uh! that's not socialism!" It is proving easier to simply embrace the Right's definition and run with it. This is especially true among millennials, for whom "socialism" has never been a dirty word. Essentially, millennial progressives have said, "Fine. You win. We're socialist. And you should be, too!"
It is not historical or economic ignorance that makes individual lay progressives encounter difficulty articulating "socialism." The word is now a slogan, much like "Make America Great Again." Asking lay conservatives what America needs in order to be "great again" generates similarly amorphous answers.
The "socialism" that is inspiring the new Left was defined by conservatives who used the word to refer to nearly every policy to the Left of Ron Paul. And, so defined, socialism will have a place in America's future.