On this week’s episode, Morgan Zegers talks about the rising popularity of socialism among Millennials and Generation Z. We discuss the current definition of socialism—is it the same socialism of the Cold War era?—why it’s gained traction, and what are the best arguments against this rising tide.
Morgan Zegers is the founder of Young Americans Against Socialism, a non-profit organization that enlightens young Americans to the dangers of socialism. In 2018, Zegers was the Republican candidate for New York’s 113th Assembly District and is a frequent speaker at events and college campuses. She has appeared on Fox News, BBC World News and CNN. And last but not least Morgan is the owner of Zegers Freedom Flags, a small woodworking business that creates and sells handcrafted wooden American flags across the country.
And welcome to She Thinks, a podcast where you’re allowed to think for yourself. I’m your host Beverly Hallberg and on today’s episode, Morgan Zegers joins us to talk about the rising popularity of socialism among Millennials and Generation Z. We’ll discuss the current definition of socialism. Is it really the same socialism of the Cold War era? Whites gain traction and what are the best arguments against this rising tide?
But before we bring Morgan on, IWF knows that due to unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 it’s more important than ever to show what America’s made of. That’s why IWF is highlighting American ideals of ingenuity, generosity and kindness from everyday Americans donating blood to companies providing free food and housing. It’s a beautiful reminder that we’re in this together. Visit iwf.org or check us out on Facebook and Twitter and follow our campaign using #inthistogether. That’s #inthistogether to learn more about the campaign.
Now to Morgan Zegers. She is the founder of Young Americans Against Socialism, a nonprofit organization that enlightens young Americans to the dangers of socialism. In 2018, Zegers was the Republican candidate for New York’s 113th Assembly District and is a frequent speaker at events and college campuses. She has appeared on Fox News, BBC World News, and CNN. And last but not least, Morgan is the owner of Zegers Freedom Flags, a small woodworking business that creates and sells handcrafted wooden American flags across the country.
Morgan, a pleasure to have you on She Thinks.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited.
So, I just want to first start off by learning more about you. As I mentioned, you spend your time fighting against the dangers of socialism and countering young people who think that this is a good idea. How did this become your career path?
Yeah, well thank you for asking. It’s kind of interesting and also kind of boring at the same time because I wasn’t passionate about these topics growing up. I just had very patriotic American values. My dad’s a colonel in the Army. My mom loves Fox News, loves history, and so I grew up with those basic values. But when I was seeing polls in like 2018 that were finally saying officially 50% or more of young Americans would choose socialism for the country. And I looked at the article and I said, “What?” I felt this sense of embarrassment and confusion because I thought that was just the basic understanding that socialism was terrible, and why would you want to bring it to America? I thought, we’re doing pretty good here as classical liberals. Whether we’re Republicans or Democrats, we can at least have that basic foundation.
And I was so confused by it that I just started looking into things. I started researching and what I specifically researched was the tactics of the socialist left has used before in other countries where they’ve come to power and how it’s very similar to the tactics being used by the American left, by AOC, the Justice Democrats, the Democratic Socialists of America, and Bernie Sanders. But Bernie is out of the picture now. And I was really startled because there were so many connections. There were so many ways today’s American left was mimicking that. And overall what I was most confused about, I think my generation, I’m the last year of Millennials. But I think both Millennials and Gen Z are actually very capitalist. We thrive in this capitalist environment. We all want to chase our dreams. We all have this entrepreneurial mindset and creativity, and we really do thrive under capitalism. And we have those values deep down.
But the left has been so successful at training our generation to think that capitalism is a dirty word, that it’s immoral, that socialism is the more moral choice. So that just really inspired me to start something. And I was like, do I make this political? What do I do to really have an impact? And I think it all comes down to values and education. And so I decided to start Young Americans Against Socialism. And August, 2019 we launched and it’s just been pretty much a crazy ride ever since. And we’re really thankful for that. And it’s been really exciting. So we’re moving forward and we’re full steam ahead.
And I think a lot of people, like you just said, you were shocked to hear that there is this popularity for socialism. As you mentioned, young people are so entrepreneurial. They love to customize everything that they do in life. And so it does seem kind of shocking that there would be this flocking to socialism when you have so many young people who are passionate about their career and wanting it to have value behind it, and they don’t think of the typical nine to five job and getting a pension. They think outside of the box. The workforce is very different these days. And of course COVID-19 is changing that even more. So I think to understand it fully, it’s important to understand the definition that we use today when we say socialism. So is this really the socialism of the Cold War, of the Soviet union, or when young people talk about socialism, are they talking about something a little bit different?
Oh, I’m so glad you brought that up because that is really the essence of the issue here. And when I do interviews, a lot of people are just, they’re so upset. A lot of older Americans, they go, “Morgan, are we doomed?” And I say, “No.” Actually I’m really excited for the future because like I said earlier, our generation is very capitalist, very entrepreneurial, very excited to chase their American dream. And the left is just absolutely relentless in pushing this messaging that the American dream doesn’t exist anymore.
But when it comes down to what socialism is, I think it’s so important to define what the issue is and then to also define who our real enemy is in this. Because people will look at this issue of the rising tide of socialism and they go, “Oh, those stupid avocado toast feeding Millennials who they play on their $1000 iPhones and they rant against capitalism on Twitter and they have no appreciation.” Instead, what I think is happening here is that the far left, there’s a small group of people who actually want to seize the means of production. And so that’s what socialism really is. It’s when the government literally seizes the means of production of an industry, takes over a private business, private industry because they think they can provide the service or product to the people in a better way. And that is what the far radical left wants to do.
But they lie to people my age by saying, “You know what, capitalism is evil. And want to know what’s a really nice place. Nordic Europe, they have everything for free. They have all these big government programs, and if you end capitalism and support our mission to bring socialism to America, we’ll end up like Denmark.” And so when we define who the enemy is, first of all, we have to realize the enemy is that small radical group that actually wants to seize the means of production and are lying about what socialism is when they talk to young Americans.
The enemy is not the young Americans who think they want socialism because they think socialism will make us like a capitalist country, capitalist Denmark. And so defining that and making sure we’re not making fun of young Americans for liking socialism. Instead, we have to get them out of the loving arms with people like Bernie Sanders who are promising everything.
And then when it comes to what socialism really is, it’s really important to first of all make the strong connection between taking away a private property and private business, having the government take over those things and run them fully versus what’s in Nordic Europe versus what’s in those social democracy countries where they just have huge taxes and big regulations and big government programs, but they still have a capitalist backbone that allows them to create the wealth to pay for those programs.
And I think it is important to bring up models like Sweden. And that’s come up a lot during coronavirus, people looking to how Sweden is handling it. But Sweden comes up often when it comes to healthcare and having some type of universal healthcare in this country. People look to those countries say, “Well, they’re happier, so why don’t we just move to that model?” So my question is when you talk about the differences in those models to pure socialism and like you said, what these radicals really want to change America too. Do you find that you do gain traction with young people when there is that time to talk through these issues?
Yes. And what I think you really hit the nail on the head there. The top three issues that my generation really cares about are climate change, protecting the environment, the student loan crisis, and of course healthcare. And so when you get into the nitty gritty of those issues, when you talk with young people, and this is what’s been so successful for me on campus, there’s always the little protestors that come and they sit and they have these little smirks on their faces because they’re socialists and they think they’re going to have this fun time making fun of the capitalist who’s coming to speak. But what’s really interesting to me is when I just talked to them and I say, “Do you know XYZ could really help us move forward in a realistic way on this issue?” And that’s pretty much what allows me to open up the conversation is if we show them that we care about these issues too and it really opens up the conversation and opens their minds to be willing to see us as good people.
The problem is the left literally has trained young Americans to think that Republicans just don’t care about the environment, that we don’t care about healthcare, that we don’t care about their student loan crisis. And so the more we show that we care about their issue and we have better solutions for them, I think we’re going to be in a better position. And I mean it was frustrating for me especially… I say this in my speeches a lot. The Green New Deal and climate change is really, I think the left is using it as a Trojan horse to get socialism implemented in the country because AOC’s chief of staff admitted that the Green New Deal was written as an economic transformation plan and then later on they slapped the sticker on it and decided to make it about climate change. And to me that says it was used for a marketing purpose and socialists love a good crisis, like I was telling you before we started recording. And I really do think they’re manufacturing artificial fear and urgency using the climate change issue to push their radical agenda.
Well, we can already see that with the spending and what they’re trying to push forward. And before we get into more about their agenda, I’m also wondering as you talk to young people, is also important for us to explain what capitalism is because there is the problem in this country where you do have to fight against crony capitalism, people who are getting favors because of government officials. Is that one of the reasons why socialism is even growing in popularity because we have far too long had elected officials who do give favors to businesses who pay them?
Absolutely. And when you talk about the dangers and the failures of socialism, they’ll often just come back at you and, “Well, capitalism is worse.” And so we cannot look hypocritical by ignoring the issues of capitalism. And I don’t think capitalism has many issues, but it’s not perfect. And so acknowledging that it’s not perfect is the first step. And then talking about how we also don’t support the evils of capitalism. We also don’t support the immorality of crony capitalism. That’s a major step moving forward, at least in their minds.
And I really try to talk to conservative leaders to show them how important it is to call out bad business behavior because all the left says, they say that we put profits over people. And so it’s really important that we show that capitalism is more than just putting profits over people. It’s more than just exchanging goods. It’s more than some CEO or boss taking advantage of their workers. Because a lot of the socialists like to say like, “Oh, the fry cook works harder than the CEO.”
Everybody has the ability to create value. And there’s nothing wrong with creating value as the fry cook. There’s nothing wrong with contributing value as the CEO or the boss. And so it’s almost this comparative advantage but inside of one little business. There’s nothing wrong. Every value of work is dignified and so that’s important moving forward.
But I would also say especially… This is something that’s really important, especially when we talk about the immorality of capitalism, we have to talk about the culture that it creates. It creates the opportunity for young people to really flourish, to create, to cultivate, and to add value to society in ways that they wouldn’t be able to under socialism. And that’s something that’s incredibly hard to convey because how do you put that into words? And what I would say is that’s the pursuit of happiness. And so that’s something I’m also working on. I talk to a lot of people to see what do you think is the best way to pitch this? Because I think if we figure out the best way to package the pursuit of happiness and say that you cannot have this under socialism, that’s going to be a major step moving forward.
And so much of that is just the way that we talk about it. I wanted to share an anecdote about a conversation I overheard before we were all locked down. I was in line for museum. There was these two young people behind me and they were talking about Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and they were both going back and forth saying how much they wish she was old enough to run for president. And so there are these discussions. What are her career aspirations? I think she’s going to be in the political sphere for a long time. A lot of people mock her for just not being smart. I’ve always said that I think she’s very effective because she has been able to connect with people. How is she connecting, especially on the issue of socialism? Why do we see young people looking to her as potentially what they think is the answer to the evils of capitalism as they see it?
Okay, good question. AOC. So I remember, so I spoke at CPAC on the main stage. I was so excited in March. I was really, really excited to do it. And I got to go and I went on broadcast row and radio row and a lot of the people that were asking me, because Bernie hadn’t dropped out just yet. And they were saying, “Well, what are you going to do after the election? If Bernie Sanders loses, is your organization over? Does that mean you’ve won if Bernie Sanders is no longer going to be president, and you won’t to have a socialist in the White House?” And it’s so important that we see this the way the left sees it. And Bernie Sanders has even said it before, he says, “This is a generational fight, and I’m in it for that. I’m not in it just for some campaign.”
And so, we have to take on that same mentality. This is generational to them and they are truly trying to change the internal values of young Americans. And I really suggest, although all of your listeners read this book, The Road to Serfdom by Hayak, it’s absolutely wonderful and it’s written a very long time ago. But what he says rings true today, and he says that the socialists will change and distort basic language in order to control the narrative. And what I think they’re doing specifically is changing the meaning of freedom. And so I think they’ve done it with feminism. They’ve done it well with capitalism, but they’ve also done it with words like morality, justice, fairness, equality. What does that really mean?
And there’s a Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign video. He’s not in it anymore, but it was like a series of young people. And they come on screen and they ask questions to the camera and they go, “What is freedom? Am I free if I have student loan debt? Am I free if I have high healthcare costs? Am I free if I have to work my job to get healthcare insurance?” And I think the actual sentence was, “Am I free if I have to work my dead end job just to get healthcare insurance?” It was insane. And so when you see this, you would think, “Oh yes, you’re free in all of those situations. But it’s just a bad situation, and we can work to find solutions for those situations.” But unfortunately that video ends with saying, “No, you’re not free in those situations. Freedom comes from economic freedom and economic freedom comes from XYZ government action. You aren’t free unless the government takes those responsibilities off of your shoulders. You’d be more free if we provided and controlled those things for you.”
And so, what I think is that the left really rejects that burden of being and they say, “You’d be more free if we controlled these things for you because then you wouldn’t have that stress. Freedom is no longer freedom from an oppressive government. Freedom to live your own life.” And so that’s what I think AOC is really riding on and growing, especially in my generation. They don’t think of freedom as freedom to live your life. They see it as, “Oh, the more the government helps me, the more free I am to live my life.” And so that’s what we have to fight with AOC because she is going to run for president one day and we have to be prepared for that. We have to make sure Americans respect basic American values and what made our country great in the first place.
And then that leads to where we are today with the coronavirus. And when you talk about not letting a good crisis go to waste or how some people see it, I think the coronavirus is an example of that. Of course, we have immediate problems that we need to take care of. That is people’s health, but also people’s economic health is so many people have lost their jobs and businesses are struggling and going out of business. But I’m also concerned about what some of the temporary measures we have taken, how people are going to view government permanently as we move forward. That this has allowed government to play a greater role in our lives. I think there are times where government has to, but of course we’re always fighting what should states do when always bring it down to the local level. But it seems that this could be potentially a really great opportunity for the left, especially the radicals that you mentioned, to try to grab hold of government as this idea of a savior in a time of a crisis.
What are the specific things you see them doing, and what are some of the things that we need to do to combat that as we go forward until we have the vaccine, for example?
Yeah, like you said, the left will really use this crisis in order to make American see government as a savior. And so one story that I really love to reference, especially on college campuses to get young Americans, I like to paint the vivid picture of what happened in the past could happen here and it is happening here. We have to learn from the past in order to avoid it happening again. And there’s this story about in like 1891 there was a famine in Russia and Lennon talks about how, “I was from a well-to-do family,” and he also liked to be known as being a working class guy, which was inaccurate. He from a very well to do family and they had resources, they had money, they had a lot of food. And during the famine, he literally is on record saying, “I could have helped people, yes. But the point was that I didn’t help people because I wanted them to suffer. I knew that the worst things got, the better in the end they would be for me as I tried to implement my radical agenda in the country in the future.”
And it’s because when people are scared and downtrodden and morale is low and they don’t know what the future holds, that sense of fear, it encourages them to see government as a savior. And so that’s a really great lesson from history. And I’m worried about it happening now. I don’t think a Lennon is coming to take over. I should preface it with that. But I would say that, first of all, I was shocked. I shouldn’t have been shocked, but Bill de Blasio went right on to television, right as this COVID-19 mess was starting and said, “This is the case for nationalization. This is why we need to have more government owned industries in this country for when these things happen.” People were going on and saying, “If we had fill in the blank for all policies that we’ve been advocating for for years, we’d be in a better position beside this pandemic right now.”
And what’s even more important, this is another thing they do during a crisis. They use the crisis to normalize more radical ideas and so that’s why you had them. They were talking about this UBI, this universal basic income, and they were basically putting it as an equivalent to this release payment that every American is going to get. So like the $1200 payment. They were saying, “Oh, well Republicans are accepting this one-time payment to help them through this hard time. They clearly are socialists now. Look at them. They’re even willing to accept socialism during this hard time and showing that this idea is really gaining traction.”
And so, by doing that, they’re normalizing this radical idea of UBI, which is a monthly payment of what? $1000 a month just for everybody to have as extra spending money. And they’re conflating that with a one-time helpful payment during a time of crisis, during a pandemic to help people pay the bills and buy food for their families during this unprecedented time.
And so, we have to stay vigilant of what they’re doing, the rhetoric they’re using and their attempts to normalize their radical policies. But my suggestions moving forward is that we just have to get our power back. And I see that happening as complying with the social distancing rules in order to be able to open. And so if they want us to wear masks but we can open our business if we wear the masks, then okay let’s do that and we can get it back to work sooner. Because the more people that are out of work, the more people are going to continually rely on the government. And America’s great because we can all take care of ourselves. We can all have a strong economy and take care of our families, provide for ourselves without relying on the government. And that’s the opposite is happening right now. So I just want everything to get back to normal. If we have to peaceful protest, then let’s peaceful protest. Let’s stay safe and let’s do it in a responsible way to show that we are ready to get back and moving again.
And final question for you. You talked about businesses and wanting to get back to work. I want to leave with you talking a little bit about your other business ventures. You’re not just the founder of Young Americans Against Socialism. You’re the owner of Zegers Freedom Flags. Tell us a little bit about this business and where people can purchase some of your flags if they’re interested.
Oh, thank you so much.
I think it’s awesome you do this. So I’d love to hear about it.
Thank you. It’s very random. But in college I had student loan debt and I had free time, but I was also getting involved in politics in my community at a local level. And so I wanted to have like the freedom. It’s almost like you said earlier, our generation, we’re thinking outside of the box in terms of how to make an income without going to a nine to five. And I wanted to make money and have more freedom in my schedule to participate in community activity. So my dad and I found on YouTube this tutorial on how to make a wooden American flag. And so we went to Home Depot and we bought the woods for like $25, and we made this beautiful flag. And we were really surprised by how beautiful it was, and we were like, “We could actually sell this.”
And so, we started donating them to local Veterans of Foreign Wars, auxiliaries and their fundraisers for veterans so that they could donate. And that kind of helped us market the product, and we got sales out of that and we kept growing. Next thing you know we were just selling them across the country, and it’s grown into… We make hundreds of flags each year and it’s just been really exciting. I paid off my student loans, and we’re excited to keep growing it because now my brother makes them and he has a small family. He has two kids, and so he helps pay the bills with his production of flags. My dad, he just buys fishing gear with his flag income but I actually have to pay the bills too. I’m only 23, so it’s really exciting that we all get to work together on it.
See that’s true freedom. Paying off your student loan debt by working to pay it off instead of fingers crossed hoping government will do it for you. So that’s a great lesson right there for all of us.
Morgan, we so appreciate you coming on and sharing about your work, and we appreciate what you’re doing to fight socialism across this country. Thanks for joining She Thinks.
Thank you so much. And I can I just say, if anybody wants to show the young videos that we make for young Americans, we interview people who have lived through socialism because we really think firsthand testimony is undeniable. The left distorts truth and they distort history and they reject basic lives and basic history. But we think what’s undeniable is that firsthand testimony from survivors. So we make these educational videos and we put them on fightsocialism.org. So if anybody has young people in their lives that are leaning towards Bernie Sanders and AOC, you can send them to our social media or that website and they’ll be able to watch the videos.
And thank you for joining us this week on She Thinks.
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