WASHINGTON—Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told a crowd of over 1,000 young students at Turning Point USA’s Teen Student Action Summit on July 24 that the “fundamental debate” facing the nation is between socialism and free enterprise.
Cruz urged students to “defend liberty” and think for themselves, adding that the “message of freedom” is “really powerful.”
“The media tells young people you are all supposed to be mindless socialists, unwilling or unable to have an opinion to speak yourself,” he said.
“Who in their right mind, what young person with any even spark of sanity would want your life governed by a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington?” he asked.
The senator spoke during the third day of the summit where students, mostly teenagers, came from all across the country to hear from conservative leaders and politicians.
“It’s a debate for young people, are you in charge of your life, are you in charge of your speech? Are you in charge of your faith? Are you in charge of your liberties? Are you in charge of the bill of rights?” he said.
The senator said the core message behind it all is truth and encouraged the young students to use their own voices to speak out.
“It’s easy for people to tell you when you’re a young person, ‘Wait till you get older,’” he said.
“Everyone of you right now has a megaphone, everyone of you right now can speak to your peers, you can be a voice of liberty and that, at the end of the day, is powerful—particularly if your having fun and being enjoyable.”
Cruz recalled running into many young people who were supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) when he was traveling to different college campuses during the 2016 presidential elections.
He said he would tell those students that he agrees with Sanders that Washington is corrupt, but he disputed one major point.
“The only thing I disagree with Bernie is the solution. If Washington is corrupt, why on earth would you want to give Washington more power?” Cruz said.
“So liberty is powerful, spread it to your friends,” he urged.
During a question and answer segment after his speech, Cruz continued to speak out against socialism. He brought up the polls that said about 50 percent of young people today think socialism is a good idea.
“That is terrifying, and sadly it is mostly born of ignorance,” Cruz said. “I think we should welcome this debate between socialism and free enterprise. Let me tell you socialism has produced more poverty, more suffering, more misery than anything in the history of humanity. Billions have suffered under socialism.”
“My family has seen it in Cuba and one point that I love to make, and many young people don’t know, look no further than Venezuela” he said.
Cruz described the great wealth of Venezuela in the 1950s before the country collapsed after decades of rule under socialist dictator Hugo Chavez and his illegitimate successor, Nicolas Maduro.
Food and medicine shortages, hyperinflation, and violent crime have driven more than 3 million Venezuelans out of the country, according to the UNHCR refugee agency.
“They are starving and eating from trash bins in the street,” Cruz said referring to the citizens of Venezuela suffering under the regime.
“Socialism doesn’t work. If you care about social justice, the greatest enemy that poverty has ever seen is the American free enterprise system.”
“We need to tell that story … freedom works” he added.