When President Donald Trump criticized socialism during his speech Tuesday at the United Nations, he seemed to expect roaring approval from the audience. Instead, world leaders responded with laughter and weak applause.
It was perhaps the most awkward moment of Trump's speech.
Speaking on the recent crisis in Venezuela, Trump said, "The problem...is not that socialism has been poorly implemented but that socialism has been faithfully implemented."
"From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure," Trump added.
In the middle of his comments, Trump paused to take the room's temperature, but it was apparent world leaders were unmoved by the rebuke of the worker state. The room was silent. It was reminiscent of Jeb Bush's "please clap" moment.
Conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly perhaps described it best: "Most fascinating part of Trump [United Nations] speech: After lambasting socialism, he paused, perhaps waiting for applause. None came. Stony silence."
Video of the speech has immortalized the uncomfortable moment:
Venezuela reacted by saying in a statement that Trump's "fatal obsession" with the country is "a product of his white supremacist ideas." So at least one government gave Trump specific feedback, even if it wasn't what he was looking for.
Trump's comment—and the general response—reveal a lot about the way America sees socialism, compared with the rest of the globe.
In the U.S., socialism is still a dirty word. Just 35 percent of Americans view the system positively, compared with 60 percent who view capitalism favorably, according to a May 2016 Gallup poll.
In addition to the bleak conditions in some countries associated with socialism (like Venezuela), the Cold War seems to have ingrained in the U.S. an inherently negative view of socialism. Many wrongly believe socialism and communism are interchangeable.
There is growing support for socialism—and a growing rejection of capitalism—among millennials, who entered adulthood well after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
This likely helps explain why younger voters overwhelmingly supported self-declared democratic socialist Bernie Sanders when he ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. It might also reveal why a significant number of Democrats have come forward to support Senator Sanders's universal health care bill, which critics, predictably, deride as socialized medicine.
Repealing Obamacare "is about stopping a march towards socialism," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham recently said.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the developed world, socialism is not something that sends people running for the hills.
Most industrialized countries, for example, have implemented universal health care. Moreover, Norway was recently ranked the happiest country in the world, and it pointed to its strong state-support programs as crucial to achieving this accolade. Apparently, people like to know those around them have their back if times get tough.
Several other Scandinavian countries, including Denmark, Iceland and Sweden, were also among the top 10 happiest countries in the world, according to the most recent figures. Like Norway, all of these countries have robust social welfare programs, though none have implemented full-blown socialism.
The U.S., however, can't even make it into the top 10 happiest countries. It's ranked at No. 14.
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