The Whittier College Nixon Republican Club has hosted a variety of online Zoom-hosted events throughout the academic year — from Among Us game nights to a movie showing of Run Hide Fight. To finish the year off, they asked a candidate for CA-45 Amy Phan West to speak to the Whittier College community on her experience of living in communist Vietnam.
The club announced the event on their Instagram page (@wcnixonclub), stating that West would be discussing “what real socialism looks like, and the dangers of bringing socialist ideology into this country” with the hashtags #amyphanwest and #socialismsucks.
Club president Cesar Bautista started off Wednesday’s event by playing “American Soldier” and “Country of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” by Toby Keith as attendees waited for Phan West to arrive. After working through some Zoom technical difficulties, Phan West opened up about her time fleeing Vietnam with her family.
She talked about her time living in a communist country, where she described the regime as filled with tyranny and threats of violence. Communism is a totalitarian system where a single political party owns property and controls the means of production; socialism is a system that falls between capitalism and communism as defined by Marxist theory, where the property and production are government-controlled while still maintaining democracy through competing political parties. The Communist Party of Vietnam was founded as a socialist ideology, before becoming the ruling party in 1976 and enforcing a communist regime. The CPV has remained the ruling party to this day.
“Socialism wants equal for all, which means equally poor for all,” Phan West said. As the CPV began their rule, Phan West’s father tried to escape, but failed and was tortured. He had a vision of a man in white — who he believed to be God — telling him that he must leave Vietnam and “believe in me.”
Her parents fled the regime in a fishing boat with their four children, where they waited at sea until being taken in by a German boat. Knowing that if they returned to Vietnam they would be killed, the family traveled in Thailand and the Philippines while trying to seek asylum in the USA. Once granted into the U.S., they flew to Huntington Beach and found a community in the Christian Vietnam culture in their community.
Phan West’s faith was a present subject throughout the conversation, as she cited her issues with removing God from political platforms. “The lack of religion in the Democratic party has led to a lack of accountability,” she said. “The Democratic party no longer has God in their platform; therefore, they are God. Have God, love God. When you love God, you will love your neighbor as yourself.”
The event hosted 11 attendees, including members of the Whittier College community, alumni, and current Nixon Republican members. In addressing the college-aged audience, Phan West emphasized throughout the discussion that the rebellious and passionate spirits of young people are the future. In order to avoid a socialist-turned-communist regime in the U.S., she says that the youth must “think for yourself, [and] research for yourself with that rebellious spirit.”
Phan West hopes, too, that young people can learn from her experience of living in and escaping a communist regime. She argued against the idea of democratic socialism, which is a socialistic economic system and a democratic political system. Phan West stated that, for democratic socialism, there must be a competing party, “which cannot happen if conservative voices are being silenced.” She believes that, without political party competition, the U.S. would fall into a communist regime.
She also discussed first-hand experiences of when she has been called a white supremacist and a Nazi in what she described as an attempt to censor and silence her. “What they want to do is silence you,” she said. “If you throw the question back on them, it makes them uncomfortable.” She encouraged the audience to speak out and challenge silencing tactics by creating dialogue with those with different viewpoints.
At the end of the discussion, Phan West announced, for the first time, that she was running for CA-45 against current Congress Representative, Katie Porter. Porter has held the seat since 2019, and was the first Democrat to be elected to represent the 45th congressional district. “Porter wants socialism. She wants communism,” said Phan. “I say, h—ll no. You are not taking my district.”
“We are glad to be the first to hear that you are running against Katie Porter,” said President Bautisa, to conclude the discussion. “We wish you luck.”
Feature Image: Courtesy of @wcnixonclub on Instagram.