I came to the United States in 2009 at the age of 27 from an island where the last free and fair elections happened 72 years ago — Cuba. There, violent communist rule is not some “red scare” tactic or a concern of generations past but the insufferable reality for more than 11 million people, including many family members I was forced to leave behind when I received asylum here.
There, growing up under the privations of a communist regime, I learned — despite the best efforts of my teachers and the government’s propaganda — to admire the United States of America, and I dreamed about one day having the God-given rights, like freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the right to elect my own leaders, enshrined in and guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution…
Younger Americans — millennials like me — are becoming increasingly sympathetic to the very ideologies that forced me to seek asylum in America. According to the fourth Annual Report on U.S. Attitudes Toward Socialism, Communism and Collectivism of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, “70 percent of millennials say they are likely to vote socialist,” and communism is viewed favorably by more than 1 in 3 millennials (36 percent). I have to believe that, if all Americans knew the true human cost of living under a socialist, communist regime, they would have a different attitude.
We’ve seen the results of a blasé attitude toward socialism before: 20 years ago, many Cubans who were exiled in Venezuela warned the locals about socialism, but Venezuelans thought it could not happen to them, because they believed that Venezuela was a stable democracy. But after many people then voted for a socialist regime, believing its leaders’ false promises of easy prosperity, the once-prosperous country has become a ruin, and the naysayers are now learning the hard way that, as Ronald Reagan first said in 1961, “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”