Ex-GOP Lawmaker Says Equality Is 'Not What We Were Founded Upon' In Rant Against Socialism

Former Republican Representative Diane Black argued Sunday that equality was against the founding principles of the United States, blasting "younger people" who are supportive of socialism.

Black, who represented Tennessee's 6th district from 2011 until the beginning of 2019, took part in a panel discussion on CNN on Sunday. Her comments about socialism and equality came as the panel discussed Democratic 2020 presidential candidate John Hickenlooper's criticism of socialism from earlier in the weekend. At a California rally Saturday, the former Colorado governor received a resounding boo from the audience after he said "socialism is not the answer" to beat President Donald Trump in the upcoming election.

"You know, younger people, when they hear, 'Well, let's have everybody totally even — everybody should get their part and you should take from this person and give to that person to make sure everyone is equal,'" Black said on CNN Sunday, "that is not what this country was founded upon. This is not what we've been successful upon," she added.

A May Day sign decorates a concrete barrier before a demonstration on May 1 at Wall Street in New York City Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Arguing that she had to work hard to get to where she was, the former congresswoman said "this whole thing about sharing and making sure everybody has the same thing, it's not what we were founded upon."

The Declaration of Independence, which was written by Thomas Jefferson and signed by representatives of the 13 original colonies that rebelled against British King George III, states plainly: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

However, Black's assessment is not inaccurate. After the Revolutionary War, when independence was won from under British rule, the country's founders eventually set up a system that enshrined slavery in law while also assuring that wealthy, landing-owning men would be the only Americans allowed to vote in most states.

Over time, voting rights and equality in society have expanded slowly. It wasn't until more than a century later that black Americans and women were guaranteed the right to vote nationwide. Overt discrimination against black Americans remained legally enshrined in many parts of the country until the 1960s, and continued in some areas through practices, like redlining, that didn't explicitly discriminate based on race but had the same net effect.

So, the U.S. was not founded with everyone being equal, although the Declaration of Independence did state theoretically that all people were "created equal." By pointing to "what this country was founded upon" as an example however, as Black did, one could also argue for the disenfranchisement of minorities, women and Americans who do not own land.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) speaks during a rally at Howard University on May 13 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty Images

When it comes to socialism, a growing number of young Americans appear to be supportive of socialist policies, according to multiple recent polls. A Gallup survey released last month showed that 43 percent of American adults think socialism would be a "good" thing for the country, however 51 percent still said they believed it would be "bad." A separate Gallup poll from last summer found that 57 percent of Democrats had a positive view of socialism, compared to only 47 percent who had a positive view of capitalism.

Self-described Democratic Socialists such Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, and Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, are also among the most prominent politicians nationwide. Sanders, who is running for the Democratic party's 2020 presidential nomination, currently sits in second place behind former Vice President Joe Biden in most national primary polls.