President Donald Trump issued a powerful warning against the nefarious impact of socialism in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. Yet he also did one better: he had two Venezuelans in the audience, including the legitimate president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó.
“Socialism destroys nations,” Trump declared. “But always remember, freedom unites the soul.”
The president celebrated the 59-nation coalition against Venezuelan socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro.
“Maduro is an illegitimate ruler, a tyrant who brutalizes his people. But Maduro’s grip on tyranny will be smashed and broken,” he declared. “Here this evening is a very brave man who carries with him the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of all Venezuelans. Joining us in the gallery is the true and legitimate president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó.”
He asked Guaidó to tell Venezuela that “All Americans are united with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom!”
In a moving display of bipartisanship, Democrats rose with Republicans to applaud Guaidó. While Democrats support expansions of the federal government that comport with Sen. Bernie Sanders’ vision of “democratic socialism,” Democrats also oppose the tyranny of Maduro.
— CNBC Politics (@CNBCPolitics) February 5, 2020
Trump condemned socialism both abroad and at home. “One hundred and thirty-two lawmakers in this room have endorsed legislation… wiping out the private health insurance plans of 180 million very happy Americans,” he warned.
“To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know, we will never let socialism destroy American health care.”
This declaration received loud applause from Republicans. The presidential candidates championing socialized medicine under the title “Medicare for All” — Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — likely shuddered at the deafening applause.
"132 Lawmakers in this room have endorsed legislation… wiping out the private health insurance plans of 180 million very happy Americans."
"To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know, we will never let socialism destroy American health care."
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) February 5, 2020
Trump’s warning against socialism might seem partisan — after all, he condemned the health care plan of two Democrats running for the presidency — but it is important to warn against the danger of big government tyranny, often originally supported for the noblest of reasons. Bernie Sanders has no intention to become a dictator like Nicolás Maduro, but his government takeover of industries like health care would require a massive confiscation of wealth and a quasi-military draft of doctors, forcing them to work for government wages.
The kind of prosperity America enjoys today is an anomaly in human history, which is marked by long stretches of poverty and tyranny. Free markets and limited government cannot be taken for granted, and socialism undercuts this engine of prosperity. For these reasons, Americans should be grateful for Trump’s warning against socialism.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.