If a president, during a State of the Union address 50 years ago, uttered the words “America will never be a socialist country,” the threat he was talking about would have been the Soviet Union. After all, socialism and communism got little traction in the United States, even during the Great Depression. The idea that anyone would consent to have it imposed upon them democratically would have been patently absurd.
Not so much in 2019. As President Donald Trump said that line during his speech before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, in the chamber was a self-described socialist who currently sits second in the polls for the Democratic nomination for president. Another self-described socialist has become a media darling and is known, after just one month in office, by her initials alone.
That was surprising enough. What was even more surprising is the fact that the rest of the Democratic side of the chamber didn’t applaud, as well.
But that’s the thing about socialism: It’s hot right now. It was hot down in Venezuela once upon a time. Now, a loaf of bread will probably cost you as much as a car, except it’s hard to tell since most Venezuelans would be hard pressed to own either.
In a video posted by Campus Reform earlier this week, Cabot Phillips went out to talk to Venezuelan expatriates in Washington, D.C. to talk about the impact socialism has had on their home country, a country where socialist President Nicolás Maduro is desperately holding onto power as protests rage and international governments begin to recognize the opposition figure, Juan Guaido, as the country’s legitimate leader.
Phillips began with one simple question for the Venezuelans: “What would be your message to people who think socialism would be a good idea here?”
“Look yourself in the mirror of Venezuela and Cuba. You do not want anyone even close to socialism to come to this country,” one man said, almost putting a period after each word.
“People are eating from trash bags in the street,” another woman said. “So, how has socialism actually helped the country?”
Well, good question.
“From the perspective of people who’ve lived through failed socialism, it’s very hard to accomplish,” another interviewee said.
“It doesn’t work the way the book says it works because we’re human and we have imperfections and socialism is too perfect to be true,” said another.
But this was perhaps the best warning: “I don’t think any Venezuelan can really like socialism because we’ve seen it put in place very well,” one woman said.
Later, she added ominously: “We also thought that this could never happen in our country. We had a balance of powers. We had democracy and we elected our leaders.”
And look what happened.
This is what happens when you elect socialists. Keep in mind, Hugo Chávez was insanely popular in Venezuela, particularly when oil prices were high and the spigot was flowing.
Now, even if oil prices rise, Venezuela won’t be able to profit because the Chávez government refused to invest in oil infrastructure, preferring to redistribute that money; hence, production is way down. Then there’s hyperinflation, the fact that Máduro’s own people are revolting and the fact that a growing number of countries don’t even think he’s the rightful president.
And that’s where we come back to the United States.
“Bernie Sanders is your enemy,” one of the men said. “Do not ever get involved with this individual or any of the other socialists.”
Sanders swears that his socialism isn’t the socialism of Venezuela. Let’s pray we never find out.