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Fighting the Rise of Socialism

October 19, 2018

The Heartlander, Fall 2018

America is undoubtedly at a crossroads today.

Just a few decades ago, who would have thought a political unknown, member of the Democrat Socialists of America like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could unseat a powerful, far-left establishment Democrat in a state like New York? Who would have imagined an avowed socialist like Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum could beat a field of well-funded Democratic challengers in Florida’s gubernatorial race? And who would have guessed that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a man who chose to honeymoon in the Soviet Union, would almost become the Democratic Party nominee for president in 2016?

As these socialist political victories reveal, many Democrats have fully embraced socialism and declared war on a pillar of American society: market capitalism. These Democrats’ sharp move to the far left can be clearly seen throughout their party’s platform and numerous recent policy proposals.

Democrats demand a universal, government-controlled, single-payer health care system. They want “free” college for everyone. They covet a guaranteed income for every American, regardless of whether he or she works. They crave massive income redistribution, no matter the disastrous economic and social consequences.

These policies are completely antithetical to the ideals that have made America exceptional: self-reliance, a fierce commitment to individual liberty, intellectual and religious freedom, and market capitalism, which has saved more people from poverty than any other economic system in all of human history.

The Heartland Institute was founded more than 30 years ago to counter America’s march to the Left, by developing and promoting free-market solutions to economic and social problems. We believe, as Ronald Reagan did, that more government is not the solution to America’s problems, because government is the problem.

We at The Heartland Institute could not be more diametrically opposed to what these democratic socialists want to do to this great nation. Socialism, in all of its forms, is one of the world’s most dangerous ideas, and I can prove it with just one word: Venezuela.

If they get their way, Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez, Gillum, and their comrades on the far Left would turn our United States into a socialist wasteland, just like former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and current President Nicolás Maduro have done to their beautiful, previously prosperous country. Their redistributionist policies have transformed Venezuela into a miserable pit of despair, where housing is almost impossible to find, food is scarce, jobs are nonexistent, and inflation has skyrocketed by more than 1 million percent. In Venezuela, people are literally starving to death, and socialism is entirely to blame.

Perhaps most troubling is that all this occurred with astonishing speed. In less than one generation, Venezuela went from being one of the wealthiest countries in the Western Hemisphere to one of the poorest. In geopolitical time, that is practically overnight. As Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.

Make no mistake about it: This is the nightmare democratic socialists want to bring to the United States. Of course, they don’t say that. Instead, socialists paint sunny pictures of families in Scandinavia laughing as they prance along beautiful Norwegian fjords, frolic in outdoor spas framed by snowcapped peaks, and drink hot chocolate before a warm fire after a day of skiing. According to American leftists, we should be looking for the solutions to society’s problems in Scandinavia, the one place on Earth where socialism supposedly works.

There’s one big problem with that argument: although Scandinavian countries have some large socialized industries, they have also maintained many free-market elements, and it’s those policies that are keeping their countries afloat—despite socialism, not because of it.

Even more importantly, democratic socialists, here and in Europe, don’t stop at single-payer health care and free college tuition. They desperately desire to radically disrupt the entire global economy, redistribute people’s land and wealth, and ruthlessly seize power for themselves.

That’s why the Left has spent so much time in recent decades trying to mislead people into believing the world is on the brink of disaster because of catastrophic, human-caused climate change. Democratic socialists know that if they able to use climate-change scare tactics to ban coal and other fossil fuels, fracking, and other U.S. energy dynamics, while regulating every pond, puddle, and business in the United States, they can control nearly every aspect of our lives.

The climate change debate is nothing more than a big Trojan Horse that leftists are using to seize power over Americans’ property rights, and they won’t stop until their secret mission is complete.

If the United States continues down the road to socialism, it too will end up like Venezuela, because the fact is—and it is a fact—socialism doesn’t work. It never has, and it never will. But don’t take my word for it. Consider the millions of women, men, and children killed by the numerous ruthless regimes throughout the world that have tried to adopt Marx’s socialist utopian dream.

We’ll start small—if any number of “deaths by government” can be considered small. Cuba: 73,000 dead. Cambodia: 2.6 million dead. North Korea: three million dead. The Soviet Union: 62 million dead. Communist China: 73.2 million dead. And, of course, Nazi Germany: about 31 million combat- and noncombat-related deaths. Don’t forget, the Nazis were the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.

All told, socialist and communist regimes were the leading cause of death worldwide in the twentieth century.

How in the world have socialism and communism, the most evil and murderous ideologies ever devised, gained popularity in today’s U.S. political landscape? And why do so many Democrats think this evil ideology is better than the hope, prosperity, and freedom that market capitalism has bequeathed to generations of Americans?

In opposition to what democratic socialists are fighting daily to achieve, The Heartland Institute’s mission statement is crystal clear: “To discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.”

The democratic socialists want ever-higher taxes, especially on the most productive and hard-working Americans. We’re constantly working for lower taxes for everyone.

They want single-payer, government-controlled health care. We want to foster innovation and competition and remove burdensome regulations to make superior private health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans.

They want “free” college for everyone, now that a huge flood of government money has made higher education unaffordable for most people. We want to improve the education system with more choice and less government intervention.

They want a government-guaranteed income for everyone. We want to encourage individual responsibility and industriousness by erasing job-killing regulations and promoting free-market policies to expand job opportunities for millions of Americans.

These are the battles we fight every single day, and our work is simply not possible without your support. Thank you for helping Heartland defend freedom.

Regardless of what happens on Election Day—whether freedom triumphs or socialism rears its ugly head—The Heartland Institute will continue to promote free markets and fight socialism. We will continue to defend liberty and oppose big government. We will advance the virtues of capitalism and individual liberty, not the vices of envy and class warfare inherent in socialism.

Once again, it’s up to pro-liberty Americans to fight back against the rapid rise of tyranny, and The Heartland Institute stands ready, as it has for three decades, to fight alongside you.

Article Tags
Government & Politics
Author
Tim Huelskamp is the president and CEO of The Heartland Institute.
thuelskamp@heartland.org @CongHuelskamp

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