Trish Regan believed that Bernie Sanders’s supporters did not properly understand the dangers that socialist leaders might represent. She brought Thor Halvorssen, head of the Human Rights Foundation, on her program to discuss how despotic leaders could abuse socialist ideals her show in early March.
Americans usually understand socialism to be wealth redistribution and welfare programs, such as food stamps and social security. Neither of these programs actually falls under the definition of true socialism, which requires the workers to own the means of production. Thor Halvorssen pointed out that many governments, including the current government of the United States, offer some socialist programs to their people. Halvorssen warned, however, that the ideals of socialism appeal to many people and that allows despotic leaders to abuse them to gain power.
Hugo Chavez and the government of Venezuela are a recent example of this phenomenon. The actions of the Chavez administration towards two of Halvorssen’s cousins prompted him to start the Human Rights Foundation. These cousins, who now reside in a Venezuelan prison, were arrested for speaking out against Cahvez’s government.
Halvorssen did not criticize socialist governments during the three minute segment. Before the interview ended, he praised the Scandinavian countries for managing to make socialist democracies work. Even though this type of government can work in some circumstances, Halvorssen cautioned that it has to work in countries with a long tradition of stable, democratic government. Countries that routinely face unrest are more likely to see despotic leaders using socialist ideals come into power.