Andy Puzder: As Venezuela is devastated by Maduro, Trump is forcefully confronting the evils of socialism

With his stirring repudiation of socialism, both at home and abroad, President Trump is proving himself to be the very champion of liberty and freedom the world needs.

While previous U.S. leaders have opposed totalitarian regimes, no American president since Ronald Reagan has confronted the evils of socialism as forcefully as Trump is doing today by supporting the people of Venezuela as they retake their country from the corrupt socialist dictatorship of disputed president Nicolas Maduro.

President Trump deserves more credit than he is getting for taking this stance against an economic system that throughout its history has created nothing but poverty, despair and want – all managed by totalitarian elites.

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“I ask every member of the Maduro regime: End this nightmare of poverty, hunger, and death,” President Trump wrote in a recent tweet. “LET YOUR PEOPLE GO. Set your country free!”

“Now is the time for all Venezuelan Patriots to act together, as one united people,” he continued. “Nothing could be better for the future of Venezuela!”

Indeed, socialism has crippled Venezuela’s once-thriving economy, impoverishing the populace to the point that people are literally starving in the streets. As recently as 2001, Venezuela was the richest country in South America. It sits on an ocean of oil, the world’s largest proven reserves.

Yet today, its people are eating their pets and feeding their children from garbage bins, all as Maduro blocks humanitarian aid shipments intended to alleviate his people’s suffering. On Friday, a woman was killed and a dozen were injured in a deadly clash near the Brazilian border that Maduro has ordered shut.

Young Americans should understand that, contrary to what they’re being told, that is the benevolence of socialism.

Despite this horrifying example of socialism’s destructive impact, socialist ideas are becoming increasingly popular among Democratic politicians right here in America.

Democratic lawmakers such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., are actively promoting the sort of policies – from punitive tax rates to government control of huge portions of the economy – that have inflicted immeasurable suffering and led to the downfall of socialist governments around the world for over a century.

The “Green New Deal” alone harkens back to the five-year plans of the totalitarian socialist regimes of the former Soviet Union. To achieve its ends would require a government of immense power, not unlike Venezuela’s, but very different from the limited government our Constitution contemplates. It actually proposes what amounts to a government takeover of massive sectors of our economy including health care, transportation and energy.

We can see the results of government elites rather than free markets controlling the economy in this manner 1,300 miles south of Miami – in Venezuela.

Of course, these radical Democrats in Washington are outraged by President Trump’s tough approach to the Maduro regime, fearing that voters will see the parallels between Venezuelan socialism and the homegrown variety being pushed by the far left. Some Democrats are even claiming that the White House is backing a “coup” in the country as a way to detract from the president’s powerful message of freedom.

“A U.S. backed coup in Venezuela is not a solution to the dire issues they face,” Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., said in a recent tweet. “Trump’s efforts to install a far right opposition will only incite violence and further destabilize the region.”

Of course, the president has never actually suggested staging a coup to oust Maduro; in fact, he’s focused his diplomatic efforts on supporting Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who became the country’s legitimate leader after Maduro blatantly rigged his re-election.

Sadly, pro-socialist Democrats have to resort to such obfuscation because the tragedy in Venezuela offers a poignant preview of what they have in store for America if they gain control of the White House.

“Years of socialist rule have brought this once thriving nation to the brink of ruin,” President Trump said during a recent speech in Miami. “Socialism by its very nature does not respect borders. It does not respect the boundaries or the sovereign rights of its citizens or its neighbors. It’s always seeking to expand, to encroach and subjugate others to its will.” President Reagan could not have said it better.

It’s worth noting that standing up to the Maduro regime is not just a moral imperative – it’s also the most prudent geopolitical move that President Trump could make in South America.

Since it was first taken over by the socialist dictatorship of Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, Venezuela has cultivated close ties with Russia, giving one of America’s foremost rivals a foothold right in our own backyard. Just two months ago, two nuclear-capable TU-160 supersonic Russian bombers flew all the way to Venezuela just to signal support for Maduro’s regime.

The longer Maduro stays in power with backing from the Kremlin, the longer Venezuela will remain an oppressive socialist country that starves and brutalizes its own citizens while seeking to undermine U.S. interests at every opportunity.

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Thankfully, we now have a president who will not shy away from the vital task of defending America’s fundamental values. President Trump is reminding the world that those values are directly responsible for the prosperity and influence we enjoy today.

The cause of liberty once again has a worthy champion in Donald Trump, and future generations will owe him a debt of gratitude for stopping the resurgence of socialism in its tracks.

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