“Socialism” is a hot topic in American politics right now with so many of President Trump’s opponents promoting some version of it. Who would have thought that ideology with such a record of failure would see this kind of resurgence? But as conservatives gather this week for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), this year’s theme – “America vs. Socialism” – is an indication of what is at stake in the 2020 U.S. elections. America isn’t the only country being threatened by this assault on freedom. The Left is on the march all over the world. Fortunately, the forces of freedom are growing in opposition to authoritarianism and collectivism.
I attended my first CPAC in 2011. What I saw there had a great impact on me. Ideas are the best weapon of free and democratic societies, and CPAC is a grassroots movement fueled by the idea that the sovereignty of individuals and nations is the basis of freedom. As I have continued to participate in CPAC over the years, I have witnessed the growth of this movement in direct response to the forces that oppose freedom in America and around the globe.
Seeing how such a gathering was assembled in the U.S. inspired me to create a similar event and movement in my own part of the world. While there are distinct cultural differences between Japan and America, conservatives in both countries are committed to similar values – national sovereignty and strong national defense, respect for individual rights, economic prosperity, limited taxation and regulation, and strong families. In the Indo-Pacific, these values are threatened by an increasingly aggressive China.
In 2015, I established the Japanese Conservative Union to counter the hegemony and totalitarianism of Communist China. The principles of classical liberalism and democracy are essential tools in this battle, and I believed that like-minded conservatives in other countries who share a commitment to these ideas needed to create an international coalition to contain such an aggressor.
JCU, in conjunction with ACU, hosted the first-ever international CPAC in Tokyo in 2017. The central theme then, as it has been every year since, was the Japanese and global response to the threat posed by China. This has not gone unnoticed by the Communist regime. At J-CPAC 2019, China finally responded by detaining Hong Kong activists set to appear on our stage. In so doing, the authoritarian state made enemies not only of American conservatives, but also those all over the world. Since the first J-CPAC, as the aggressor has grown bolder, attendance has doubled each successive year. And the international CPAC movement hasn’t stopped with Japan.
Thanks to ACU’s commitment to expanding the fight for freedom beyond America’s shores, other countries have been encouraged to host their own CPACs. So far, Australia, South Korea, and Brazil have held successful events, and conservatives in dozens of other nations have expressed interest in doing the same. Human beings inherently long for freedom and attacks against it do not go unchallenged.
Americans should take heart—many of your struggles are ones we are also facing in Asia and around the world. Individual rights and the sovereignty of nations are under attack everywhere. You are not alone.
President Trump’s reelection campaign is not just about Americans. Freedom-loving people around the world are watching. We want America to secure its position as a leader of the movement to expand freedom, not restrict it. A strong, free America is critical in order for other countries to secure our own freedoms. The failed socialist experiment must be left in the past where it belongs.
Jay Aeba is Chairman of the Japanese Conservative Union.