I love America. Unlike Hollywood liberals, I am not leaving this country — regardless of the final results of the presidential election. I understand that I was born with privilege. It’s not because of my race or even where my ancestors were born. It’s where they came to — these United States of America — that matters.
My ancestors came from Germany and Scotland and Ireland and Wales. In particular, my great, great-grandfather came from south-central Wales, where his father was a miner. He traveled from Merthyr Tydfil to Philadelphia to work as a blacksmith. He and his wife had five children. Eventually, they moved to the Midwest and had four more children.
My wife Tonette’s grandparents came from Sicily and made their way to our country through Ellis Island. Each of them came here to live their American Dream based on the hope of freedom and opportunity for themselves and — more importantly — their children and children’s children.
This is not unique to my family. It is, however, a uniquely American story. It does not matter what class you were born into, what you look like or what your parents did for a living. In a country where we believe that all people are created equal, you can do what you want to do and be what you want to be. And it does not matter whether you came here five generations ago or five days ago.
I wish that every student in our country could hear firsthand from someone who recently came to the United States from a socialist country. They love America.
More than a million people legally immigrate to the U.S. every year. We have more foreign-born citizens than anyone else in the world — four times more than the next-closest country. Most come for the freedom and opportunity uniquely available in the home of the free. The rest of the world sees something many of our woke friends and neighbors don’t understand, and that is there’s something special in America.
Do we have challenges? For sure, but the self-described Marxists leading the Blacks Lives Matter organization aren’t focused on creating harmony among the races — they want chaos. Their supporters are pushing for anarchy.
True freedom and prosperity do not come from the clumsy hand of the government. They come from empowering people to live their own lives through the dignity of hard work. Free people can succeed with hard work and determination.
A friend of mine came to Milwaukee as a child many years ago. Within days of his arrival, a phone was installed at their home. Amazed, he asked his father about it. He learned that, in America, the company that installed the phone made money off it, so they had an incentive to put it in quickly. In the country he came from, the government ran the phone company, so it took six months or longer because they did not have an incentive to move. From that point on, he was a capitalist.
Free enterprise is the key to free people. As a kid, I watched the images of food lines in the Soviet Union and heard the stories of Soviet athletes defecting to the U.S.A. I saw the reports of people piled on makeshift rafts sailing over shark-infested waters fleeing Cuba to Florida. Each sought freedom.
Even today, promises of power to the people typically lead to power to the few and poverty for the masses. For example, the minimum wage in Cuba is $17. Unlike the push by liberals in America, that is not a minimum per hour. It is not per day or even per week. The minimum wage in Fidel Castro’s Cuba is $17 per month.
In Venezuela, 9-in-10 people live in poverty in a place that was once one of the wealthiest countries in the hemisphere. During the past year, the typical Venezuelan has lost roughly 20 pounds due to malnutrition and deprivation. So much for socialism.
Recent immigrants should be some of our biggest supporters in the conservative movement. We need to reach out to them. Heck, we should be signing up people to help our cause at every citizenship ceremony in the country.
I mentioned this last Friday night while speaking at a college conference for Young America’s Foundation. After the speech, a steady stream of students came over to affirm the point to me. A few were from Venezuela, some others from Mexico. Some of their families came here from the former Soviet republics. And a couple were even from Hong Kong. Each of them had their own freedom story. Their parents or grandparents wanted the freedom and opportunity they could only find in America.
Now, more than ever, we must do more than resist, we must persist in the fight to preserve freedom for ourselves and for future generations. That’s how we show our love for America.
• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him @ScottWalker.