President Trump has repeatedly promised, "America will never be a socialist country." Since Franklin Roosevelt began expanding government in the 1930s, the United States has increasingly adopted big-state policies associated with socialism.
We may not be at the stage Bernie Sanders would advocate, but more millennials appear to favor a system under which they have never lived. Free stuff is appealing until one realizes its costs.
In an attempt to reach Generation Z -- those in their teens and 20s -- a new organization is starting this month to combat socialism's appeal.
It's called Young Americans Against Socialism" (yaas.org), according to its site, a nonpartisan nonprofit "dedicated to exposing socialism's failures to young Americans by creating viral educational videos for social media." Its founder, Morgan Zegers, worries that "more than half of young people believe socialism should be implemented in America." The reason, she says, is because many of them know little about it. Her campaign will be largely on social media where she notes young people spend hours every day.
"Yaas is taking the Left's tactics of injecting emotion into everything," she says, "and throwing it right back in their faces." One Yaas video includes statements by two men. One, Raydel Armas, says he escaped Cuba by "windsurfing for 10 hours." The other, Daniel Di Martino, a Venezuelan, challenges Sanders' promotion of socialism.
Sanders is shown in a video from the '70s in which he calls food lines in some countries "a good thing," presumably referring to non-socialist countries. "The rich," he claims, "get the food and the poor starve to death." Daniel Di Martino responds, "It wasn't that I was rich; it was because politicians like him destroyed my country."
Armas suggests young people who wear Che Guevara T-shirts are ignorant of history and of the number of people Guevara killed during and after the Cuban revolution. Surveys back him up.
In a 2017 opinion column for The New York Post, Karol Markowicz cited a 2014 report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress that showed "an abysmal 18 percent of American high school kids were proficient in U.S. history. When colleges such as Stanford decline to require Western Civilization classes or high schools propose changing their curriculum so that history is taught only from 1877 onward ... it's merely a blip in our news cycle."
Markowicz also noted a 2012 story in Perspectives on History magazine by University of North Carolina professor Bruce VanSledright, who found that "88 percent of elementary school teachers considered teaching history a low priority."
While the reasons are varied, she says, "VanSledright found that teachers didn't focus on history because students aren't tested on it at the state level. Why teach something you can't test?"
When history is taught, especially at many liberal universities, there is often a bias against America because of slavery and the "invasion" of white Europeans who killed and displaced Native Americans. Markowicz concluded, "We talk often about how fractured our country has become. That our division increases while school kids are taught less and less about our shared history should come as no surprise."
In her video, Zegers says, "Capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system." Even China, though still officially communist and socialist, has had to adopt more of the principles characteristic of capitalism to lift large numbers of people from poverty.
Socialism has long needed pushback in America from those opposed to it. President Trump has begun pointing out how harmful it is elsewhere. Zegers hopes to target young Americans with testimonies from people who have lived under the reality of socialism.
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Cal Thomas, America's most-syndicated columnist, is the author of 10 books.