Back in the late 1970s, my dad, with only a middle school education, worked as a machinist. My mom, who had a bachelor’s degree in education, taught Spanish at a high school. Even though my parents were not poor, the birth of my older sister prompted them to think about alternatives to improve their financial situation. That’s when my dad decided to build his own manufacturing business.
For four years, my parents lived on my mother’s teacher salary while my dad worked a part-time job to pay for the construction of a warehouse and machinery. There was no shopping for new clothes, new cars or new toys. All they had was the love for each other and the dream to provide a better life for themselves and their children. My father’s low education level didn’t stop them from dreaming big and working hard to achieve their goals.
By the early 1990s, their hard work was starting to pay off. The factory was reputable and well-known in the oil industry for manufacturing high-quality oilfield pump replacement parts. Moreover, my dad’s knowledge and ingenuity had earned him the respect of many professionals in the field.
Unfortunately, their small business received a tacit death sentence after Hugo Chavez became president and Venezuela adopted socialism as its economic system. The new regime imposed several regulations that were financially unsustainable for many businesses and forced my parents, over a 10-year period, to reduce their workforce from 15 full-time employees to only one.
I remember a Cuban friend alerting everyone he could about the misery socialism would bring to the country. Unfortunately, many disregarded my friend’s warnings with the argument, “In Venezuela we have a system that works, separation of powers, and we have firearms to defend ourselves. Venezuela is not Cuba.”
Nearly 20 years have passed since socialism was adopted in Venezuela, first under Chavez, and now under Nicolas Maduro—who brought even more corruption, the disarmament of law-abiding citizens, runaway violent crime and a humanitarian crisis. Freedom is on the very edge of extinction.
Truth is, we all know that the primary purpose of socialism is to control citizens by making the government lord and master of society’s affairs. In other words, a few hundred individuals rule as superiors, not as public servants for the people. So, if we know that—if we have repeatedly seen how socialism has been the downfall of many nations—then why are we experiencing a strong socialist movement in pockets of the United States?
Here is what I have learned in the past 25 years about how even a nation like the United States might slip into the idea of a socialist utopia:
The Path From The United States To Venezuela:
Divisiveness: The United States is currently dealing with strong hate issues in our country—hatred that greatly intensified during the Barack Obama administration. While I don’t believe that Obama hated white people or law enforcement officers, he chose not to be a champion for reconciliation when he had the opportunity. Instead he stealthily planted a seed of hate in America, especially between blacks and whites, and between some citizens and law enforcement.
Another example of fostering divisiveness was on display during the 2016 presidential campaign, when Hillary Clinton referred to Donald Trump supporters as “a basket of deplorables.” My memory took me back to the time when Chavez nicknamed the opposition as “escuálidos,” meaning “someone who is pathetic or scrawny.” Both Chavez and Clinton widened the fundamental political division between citizens by using denigrating slang to describe those who opposed them.
We see the same thing occurring right now with vile statements by those on the far left about National Rifle Association members and other law-abiding gun owners. Some blame the NRA—nearly 6 million law-abiding citizens banded together to preserve our constitutional rights—any time a criminal illegally uses a gun to kill someone else. And politicians who would like nothing more than to see a disarmed citizenry are quick to fan those flames, not so subtly insinuating that NRA members are criminals or terrorists. Just consider a statement New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made in early August: “If I could have put the NRA out of business, I would have done it 20 years ago.” He sarcastically added, “If the NRA goes away, I’ll remember the NRA in my thoughts and prayers.”
Much of the divisiveness and hatred we are experiencing in America are consequences of the scars left by past U.S. presidents and other elected officials’ mistakes and poor decisions. In the meantime, socialism is feeding on the division by offering a false alternative for reconciliation.
Indifference: “Venezuela is not Cuba.” “The United States is not Venezuela.”
See what I did there?
About 40 percent of American voters are dormant: They are not interested in voting, or at least not yet. Furthermore, during U.S. presidential elections, it is estimated that between 80 million and 100 million Americans of voting age don’t vote.
This trend might change sooner rather than later, given the high political tension we are currently experiencing. Negative emotions and hatred are what drive people to make radical decisions without thinking about the long-term consequences. It is very troubling to me to realize that the only times I have felt uncomfortable expressing my political views in public has been in Venezuela as an “escuàlida,” or anti-Chavez citizen, and in the United States as a Trump supporter. That is not a positive thing.
I believe that 15 percent (or more) of the dormant population will vote in or before this November’s midterm elections—or, if not then, at least by the end of the 2020 presidential election. A surge in U.S. citizenship applications, along with an active anti-gun campaign to register young people, will likely contribute to a larger number of votes.
In short, Americans who think that a radical political change will never happen in the United States could be struck by a crude reality if they remain indifferent to the possibility.
Giving Up Too Much: I believe that most people in the United States are proud of the opportunities and freedom, but many have forgotten how important it is to continue defending our liberties.
Truth is, we are creatures of habit, and we can become accustomed to new norms in a short period of time. For that reason, as long as citizens believe there is no alternative outcome, people resort to accepting their new reality. As an example, the Venezuelan socialist regime gained the upper hand by slowly introducing drastic changes that let people adapt to a new set of circumstances.
On Gun Control:
• Socialist Government: “Taking firearms from all citizens will reduce crime.’”
• Venezuela’s Current Situation: The Venezuelan government focused its effort on the disarmament of law-abiding citizens through the enforcement of gun registration, yet criminals remained armed. Crime rose to an extreme level, making Venezuela one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
• Society’s Behavior: As absurd as it sounds, people give in to this idea because they are convinced by the government that they cannot control their emotions, are not intelligent enough to learn, are not responsible beings and, lastly, that the government will always protect them. Even though most citizens disagree with almost all those statements, they end up accepting them because they assume that at least one is correct.
On Changes To The Constitution:
• Socialist Government: “The constitution is too old and needs to be changed to improve current social issues.”
• Venezuela’s Current Situation: The Venezuelan Constitution was changed to favor Chavez’s socialist agenda and to ensure his regime’s grip on power. Among the most radical changes were limiting people’s rights to private property and declaring that any type of property can be confiscated.
• Society’s Behavior: The increase of hatred and indifference within citizens contributes to changes in the constitution. The poor often hate those who are successful and vow to destroy them by supporting the new government’s control. The majority in the middle class are indifferent because at the beginning of the process, such power doesn’t affect them. Little do they know that, sooner or later, even the poor surrender what they believe they don’t have—prosperity.
The current negative sentiments and widespread hatred in this country are among the many factors that must be present to spawn fundamental changes of a country’s social and economic structure. Such toxic factors are beneficial for a socialist movement to succeed because they make a portion of the population move blindly toward what they believe could be a “utopian” society.
Currently, I don’t believe America is teetering on the edge of becoming a socialist society. But, just like a perfect storm, the conditions for a radical change are building.
Fortunately, we have time to change course. It is up to us—those who love and appreciate American freedom—to repel any socialist movement by being a part of a different paradigm shift in society. Here are some of the things we must do:
Fight back against the misinformation spread by the so-called “mainstream” media. A positive way to fight back is by having two flanks of attack—one that counteracts mainstream media’s lies, and another that strongly reflects the positive side of important topics like gun ownership and the pursuit of the American dream. NRATV and other NRA media properties do just that. By behaving differently than the mainstream media, we gain credibility, and we gain people’s trust and loyalty.
Treat the workforce with value and respect. The workforce is one of the most important assets for any business—and for our economy. Having employees who feel valued and respected leads to higher production, and motivates employees to grow with the company as long as they can.
Help at least one person or group of people reach success. The feeling of helping others achieve their goals is an incredibly positive one. That is the feeling I get when I teach my students at the gun range and help them improve their shooting skills. As a businesswoman, I opened my blog and social media to selected individuals from the firearm industry for them to share about their shooting competitions, businesses or products. The more successful people we have around us, the better we’ll be.
Share knowledge in business to help improve poverty in America. I think it is time for those who have the real understanding of how to fix a problem to get involved in finding a real solution to the poverty issues we face in America. Such an effort would be an invaluable contribution that everyone in this country would appreciate, and would tend to quash any movement toward a socialist society.
Always be politically active. Politics might seem to be a national phenomenon, but it begins with our families and friends. If we believe strongly enough in the cause of freedom, we’ll take every opportunity to explain to others what we believe and why we believe it. The constant defense of freedom is among our most important responsibilities. Joining together with like-minded citizens to fight for our freedoms also plays an important part in this political activism.
Vote at every opportunity. If we are going to have regrets, let’s regret that we couldn’t do more for our country because a day has only 24 hours, not because we didn’t do our part when the future of the country was decided at the ballot box. Get out and vote, and make sure your family and friends vote, too. It’s your most effective means to protect American freedom for generations.
An empowered society that believes in success, the American Dream, and never giving up will be the best shield against ideas that bring conformism and mediocrity.
I think that a life worth living is one where there are no limits to what we can achieve if we work hard and persevere. Just like I learned from my parents’ experiences, the only things that should determine the path of my future are my rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—not the mercy of the government’s power.
Gabby Franco was the first female shooter to represent Venezuela in the Olympics. As an accomplished author, speaker, competitive shooter and instructor, she is recognized worldwide for her shooting skills and advocacy for the right to own and bear arms.