Mike Pence Says 'Freedom, Not Socialism, Ended Slavery,' Doesn't Mention What Started Slavery

Vice President Mike Pence continued the Republican attacks on what they claim is socialism infiltrating the Democratic Party, making the dubious claim Friday that it was "freedom, not socialism, that ended slavery and won two World Wars." Pence, speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, did not mention what started slavery in the United States.

"It was freedom, not socialism, that ended slavery, won two World Wars and stands today as the beacon of hope for all the world."

If it was freedom that ended slavery then presumably it was also freedom that allowed it, with a provision written into the Constitution that specifically referred to slaves and the "three-fifths compromise," whereby they were counted as less than free people. Moreover, Southern states continued to argue for the freedom to keep slavery in place as the country descended into the Civil War. It was also not capitalism, which Pence appeared to be referring to, when he said it was freedom that ended slavery. Indeed, many historians have noted the explicit links between slavery and the birth of American capitalism.

Pence's claim about the ending of the World Wars is also historically questionable. The Soviet Union, under communist control, played a crucial—to some historians the most crucial—role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II. The country also paid the heaviest price during the war as it battled Germany on the Eastern Front, losing an estimated 26 million people, including about 11 million soldiers.

But Pence's blasting of socialism, which has also been a prominent theme of President Donald Trump's recent rhetoric, did not end there. At one point he took a direct shot at independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who announced his presdiential candidacy last week, and immediately drew massive donations.

"Remarkably, a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination is an avowed socialist," Pence said. "And it's not just him. Bernie's been joined by a chorus of candidates and newly elected officials who have papered over the failed policies of socialism with bumper-sticker slogans and slick social-media campaigns."

mike pence, socialism, slavery, war
Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 1. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Sanders, however, like other progressive Democrats such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, identifies as a democratic socialist, not a socialist. No Democrat has endorsed Venezuelan-atyle socialism.

The vice president was not the only member of the Trump administration to put socialism on blast.

"I want you, everybody in this room and your friends and your neighbors, I want you to put socialism on trial. That's what I'm asking you to do," White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Thursday. "I don't want us to stand idly by. I don't want to let this stuff fester, I want it challenged, I want it debated, I want it rebutted, and I want to convict socialism."