Thursday afternoon at CPAC, Mercedes Schlapp held a panel on socialism and millennials. This panel, aptly titled ‘Freedom or Free Stuff?’ included Representative Ron Desantis, Dr. Greg Dolin, an ACU senior fellow, and Ana Quintana of the Heritage Foundation. The topic discussed was the millennial love affair with Senator Bernie Sanders, a 2016 Presidential candidate who lost to Secretary Hillary Clinton in the democratic primary.

Over 80% of people under 30, commonly referred to as millennials, voted for Bernie Sanders. There was an attraction to the idea of free college, healthcare for all, and complete and total equality. Naturally, these ideas are attractive to a generation where 71% of college students have been forced to take out loans in order to achieve a higher education, something the generations before us didn’t have to do. Only 14% of recent college graduates have ‘real jobs’ or careers in their field rather than flipping burgers at the nearest fast food establishment. These promises of free college, affordable housing, and healthcare, all things millennials desperately need currently, has made socialism popular again, championed by Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein.

Socialism in action, however, is not as smooth running as Mr. Sanders insinuates. To see the reality, we should look to countries like Venezuela, where food and medicine is in such short supply that the citizens have resorted to eating flamingo and anteater meat, the nation in complete economic deterioration. Children are dying due to the lack of food and medicine. This is the true effect of socialism: death, pain, and deterioration. There is no socialism in a truly free society. Yet, the Sanders effect is that young people still see promise in these ideas despite the failure of these same ideas in every other nation that has a socialist regime.

The Democrats have pandered directly to low-income people, promising them welfare and Section 8 housing in exchange for party loyalty, but under the Democrats, the politicians got richer while these people continue to suffer in poverty, dependent on promised handouts. In America, we work hard for what we want and believe in. The founding fathers intended for us, as equal citizens, to have equal ability to do equal work, and succeed on our own volition, not because anyone handed us the success but because we earned it. Although socialism is great in theory, it leads to complete and total economic downfall in practice. But most of all, socialism is not the American way, and it never will be.