It was 1979.
I was 17 years old and I had the opportunity to visit the divided city of Berlin, Germany.
Berlin was split in two, making the contrasts within the artificially-divided city incredibly stark. There was the free West Berlin, and there was the socialist East Berlin.
A wall separated the two to prevent people in the socialist East from escaping to the free West. People in the East risked death to escape from its unnatural, godless shackles and the ever-present Stasi, the secret police that spied on the people.
Don’t get me wrong. People in East Germany were equal: equally without opportunity and equally without freedom, that is unless you were part of the governing class.
The people were promised universal healthcare and a free education in a socialist utopia.
Instead, they got primitive health care, a so-called education that prepared them for the drudgery of an existence without prosperity and a polluted environment to boot. The leaders of the so-called “worker’s paradise” in the socialist East, however, had it pretty good: special schools with passes to visit the West, special hospitals for their privileged class, and even special summer resorts.
For socialism to “work,” it must kill freedom by creating two types of people: those who rule and those who are nothing but cogs in the socialist machine.
America’s leading socialist, Bernie Sanders, is visiting Pittsburgh Sunday as this scourge of an ideology is taking root locally.
Two so-called “Democratic Socialists” have won Democratic state legislative primaries right here in Pittsburgh. Barring something unforeseen, they will be seated as duly-sworn Pennsylvania State Representatives this December.
The Democratic Socialists are no longer hiding their agenda. They are upfront about it on their own web site: “The Pittsburgh Local of the Democratic Socialists of America seeks to facilitate the transition to a truly democratic and socialist society, one in which the means/resources of production are democratically and socially controlled.”
A socialist society. Controlled. People must be reminded of what this truly means. With the foregoing premise, theoretically you only get to do with your property, choose a career or get the health care or higher education you want if a bare majority of the people say you do. What else could “democratically and socially controlling” the means of production mean? It’s a recipe for societal paralysis, and that is exactly what you get in a socialist society.
This ideology is at complete odds with our Declaration of Independence, which speaks of people being endowed with God-given inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and it is wholly inconsistent with our constitutional rights of not being deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of law.
We are seeing this ideology accompanied with shocking “in your face” tactics the new hard left is using to advance its agenda, from shouting down opponents to screaming vulgarities to Congresswoman Maxine Waters’s call to harass public officials. The American people must be reminded that socialism is not a dream. It is a nightmare that is responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people in the 20th century. Google it.
It is a dead-end ideology that countless Americans gave their lives to eradicate from the globe. Google that one, too.
Venezuela and North Korea, where people are literally starving, are the modern realities of socialism. Is that what we want America to look like? Of course not, and I will fight with every fiber of my being in Congress to make sure we do not head down that path.
The choice before voters this November could not be clearer. Freedom with prosperity, or, socialism with poverty. More jobs and higher wages, or more government and higher taxes.
The socialists can keep Che Guevara, the murderous Cuban thug from the 1960s, as their icon. I will stick with Lech Walesa, the freedom fighter from Gdansk who led the Solidarity trade union to victory over the Polish socialists.
Keith J. Rothfus, a Republican, is the U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district.