A panel of women leaders at the Conservative Political Action Conference shared personal experiences with socialism abroad to denounce the idea of the economic system being advanced by the far-left in the United States.
On Thursday morning, CPAC hosted a panel featuring Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Joni Ernst of Iowa, which was moderated by Townhall.com editor Katie Pavlich.
During her comments, Ernst recalled her “brush with a socialist country” while a student at Iowa State University where she got the opportunity to go on an agricultural exchange trip to the Soviet Union.
“I lived on a collective farm where my family had no running water, they were farming with horses and wagons,” explained Ernst.
“They had no refrigerator, they had no automobile, they shared one bicycle among all the family members. That was socialism, folks. Living in poverty.”
Ernst explained that when the whole community would come together during the evenings with the American students, they asked them “what is it like to be an American?” and “what is it like to be free?”
“They hungered for the opportunity and the freedoms that we have as a country,” continued Ernst, stressing that socialism is “not what we should be striving for.”
She added that “if that’s what we’re striving for as a United States, I’m not going to have any of it” in response to Democrats in Congress and presidential hopefuls who are attempting to advance socialism.
Pavlich recalled a time when she went to the People’s Republic of China a couple of years ago as part of a delegation of professional journalists.
“We went to a university to speak to translator students about America and they were allowed to ask questions and they asked about the First Amendment, a basic right that we have,” recalled Pavlich.
“One of the young women, one of the students who asked a question was condemned after that for asking, because they ask a bunch of American journalists, we obviously defended the First Amendment and the right to speak out, and she was punished for that.”
Considered the largest annual gathering of conservatives in the United States, CPAC is being held at the Gaylord National Resort & Conference Center at National Harbor, Maryland, through Saturday.
The theme of this year’s CPAC is “America vs. Socialism,” featuring several speakers and sessions centered on examining the ideology.
Other prominent scheduled speakers include President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway, and several members of Congress, among others.
The CPAC focus on socialism comes as Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., an avowed Democratic Socialist, is gaining support in the Democratic presidential primary season.
Sanders finished second in the Iowa Caucus, was declared the winner of the New Hampshire Primary, and won the Nevada Caucus. He has defended the idea of Democratic Socialism, comparing it to the New Deal reforms of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
“Roosevelt helped create a government that made transformative progress in protecting the needs of working families. Today, in the second decade of the 21st century, we must take up the unfinished business of the New Deal and carry it to completion,” Sanders said in a speech last year.
“Now, we must take the next step forward and guarantee every man, woman and child in our country basic economic rights — the right to quality health care, the right to as much education as one needs to succeed in our society, the right to a good job that pays a living wage, the right to affordable housing, the right to a secure retirement, and the right to live in a clean environment.”