By Parker Bowman, YAF William & Berniece Grewcock Intern Scholar

On Wednesday, June 5th, Young America’s Foundation hosted its annual Reagan Forum to commemorate the passing of President Ronald Reagan. Titled “Socialism vs. Freedom,” the forum was a great chance for congressional interns to learn about an issue President Reagan deeply cared about, and an issue that is increasingly relevant today. The event was packed to capacity with young conservatives, including standing room only for many.

The speakers included Rep. Chris Stewart, representing Utah’s 2ndDistrict and founder of the House Anti-Socialism Caucus; Dr. John Lenczowski, president of the Institute of World Politics and National Security Advisor to President Reagan; and Frank Donatelli, Chairman of YAF’s Reagan Ranch Board of Governors.

Throughout Rep. Stewart’s remarks at the forum, he focused on his surprise at the necessity of a renewed fight against socialism. He emphasized that while he expected a fight against socialism when he was a young lieutenant in Europe, he never expected to have to continue the fight in the halls of Congress.

He also focused on the importance of this fight for freedom, questioning how leftists could have a serious conversation about the future of our country while advocating for principles that will have damaging consequences for the future.

Congressman Stewart left students with a simple yet very important message about socialism: “It comes down to one word—compulsion. Point out the fact that it takes away your choices. It compels them.”

Dr. John Lenczowski focused more on the philosophical roots of socialism. He explained the socialist assumption that human nature is malleable and can be perfected through social and political pressure, and the ways that the National Socialists and communists attempted to perfect it. He pointed out that the American system was a direct rejection of the flawed view of humanity inherent in socialist systems. Additionally, he explained that the American system of government was designed to protect citizens from the inevitable flaws that come with human nature.

Dr. Lenczowski left the students with a powerful message: “The two greatest paths to poverty are socialism and the breakup of the family.”

Frank Donatelli reminded the young conservatives in the audience about President Reagan’s belief that socialist and Marxist thought would be relegated to the “ash heap of history.”

Mr. Donatelli then encouraged the audience to take up the fight against socialism, stating that “Just as America led the world against socialism in the 20thcentury, it is our duty to do so again.”

As always at YAF events, students also had the opportunity to ask questions, which produced an important discussion on the topic of socialism. Dr. Lenczowski had a perfect answer to a question asserting that there may be a time where socialism is a necessary evil, for example, in a situation to prevent an oligarchy. “Never,” he answered, explaining that it’s impossible for socialism to help anyone and that socialists themselves are the greatest example of oligarchs.