A Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll came out recently with its title on Fox Business being “Political Divisions in US Are Widening, Long-Lasting, Poll Shows.” Indeed, it is sad that despite years of Americans demanding greater unity that our country seems as divided as ever. Congress in recent months is a mere reflection of this, as legislative gridlock and polarization in public opinion prevents significant policies from getting enacted.
However one issue is rapidly coming up that may give Congress a chance to come together and demonstrate our commitment, no matter party, to common American principles.
Over 100 years ago this year, the October/Bolshevik Revolution took place in Russia and ushered in what would be a dark century full of war, suffering, crimes against humanity, and oppression. It was America’s commitment to God-given liberty that was the light in the darkness for many millions in the world, and it was that light that eventually prevailed.
On this 100th anniversary, it is worth for Congress to come together and recommit ourselves to our history and principles of liberty through passing a resolution commemorating the innumerable hundreds of millions of victims of Communism.
Congress is no stranger to commemorating Communism. Ranging from a unanimous bipartisan resolution in 1993, signed by Bill Clinton, commemorating the victims and establishing a non-profit, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (“VOC”), to continue to promote education on the issue, to the regular involvement of members of both parties in events and organizations in D.C. commemorating Communism’s victims.
As President George W. Bush described in 2007 when he dedicated the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington D.C., Communism’s victims range across all the world from Cuba to Cambodia to the Baltics, from China to Korea to Eastern Europe, from Ethiopia to Nicaragua to Russia. President Bush would then serve as Honorary Chair of VOC while President, demonstrating a remarkable commitment to remember the victims of authoritarianism and continuing to push for freedom for all peoples.
Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Marco Rubio have been perhaps the two most outspoken commemorators of Communism in recent years. Both have also regularly spoken eloquently about what ideals makes us different from the Communist system and have continued to press for liberty for those currently suffering under authoritarian oppression in countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea.
At his Cuba policy announcement in June, President Trump similarly forcefully condemned Communism and its authoritarian and collectivist ideals.
Beyond remembering the dead and bringing attention to those currently suffering under authoritarian regimes, honoring the victims defies one of the defining features of Communist regimes, which was to try to erase the existence of their victims in a real-life version of George Orwell’s “1984”. By remembering, we defeat their attempt.
Furthermore, by commemorating Communism’s victims we are reminded of what makes America different from them and our proud history during the Cold War in making the case for human liberty. Under Marxist regimes, there was no liberty, whether personal, religious, economic, or social, with all human rights and freedoms being subservient to the state.
A frequent danger however with commemorating the victims of Communism is that, like any issue, it can become politicized and partisan for a cause too important to fall to mere politics.
Democrats and Republicans have historically been unified during the Cold War against Communist aggression overseas. Whether Truman or Eisenhower, Kennedy or Nixon, Johnson or Reagan, much of American foreign policy remained the same in both its understanding of the threat and goals, while differing at times in execution.
From the Berlin Airlift to the Vietnam War, from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Reagan’s Speech at the Berlin Wall, opposition to Soviet domination saw no party but was a common thread uniting Americans on both sides of the spectrum.
That is not even mentioning the countless government officials, representatives, community leaders, and ordinary citizens of all beliefs and backgrounds who partook in our united front in defense of human liberty.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, commemoration has been relatively unified and bipartisan as well, and needs to stay that way.
By passing a unified and bipartisan resolution on this 100th anniversary, Congress can do historical justice by remembering all of those who suffered under Marxist-Leninist oppression this past century. My own family counts among its number many victims of Communism, as do many other Americans, let alone countless overseas who looked to America as their beacon of hope and admiration.
While the Cold War is over and much of the world has been freed from Communist oppression, many still suffer as well in countries such as North Korea, Cuba, and otherwise.
The October Revolution’s anniversary is a unique chance to reflect on our history and remember all those whose lives were unjustly taken in the name of wild totalitarian utopian dreams during the 20th century. In this time of deep polarization, Congress has both the opportunity as well as duty to bring us together and remember our common commitment to the principles of liberty, equality, and justice for all.
Erich Reimer is an American entrepreneur, policy professional, and conservative commentator. He holds a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and a Bachelor’s from the University of Pennsylvania. He can be followed on Twitter at @ErichReimer.