The presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has begun to flounder.
Sanders’ road to the Democratic Party’s nomination was weakened significantly after Super Tuesday. His chief rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, had a strong showing in which he re-emerged as the top contender.
On Monday, Sanders attempted to revive his weakened candidacy with a Fox News town hall.
Unfortunately for the democratic socialist, he received some pushback from the crowd on his far-left proposals.
Audience member Margaret Beste, a student at the University of Michigan, told Sanders that she was from Russia and described it as “a country that was greatly impacted by the negative effects of socialism.” She proceeded to ask Sanders what assurances he could provide that “democratic socialism will not have the same results.”
Sanders responded by trying to draw a line between Soviet communism and his own plans.
“What happened and existed in the Soviet Union was not socialism,” he said. “It was authoritarian communism.
“And communism, whether in Cuba, whether in the Soviet Union, whether in other countries, was marked by totalitarianism, was marked by throwing millions of people into the gulag. Stalinism was about as bad as it got.”
The definition of socialism seems to be continually evolving. The Sanders-led progressives are defining socialism as whatever sounds good in the current political climate.
In the past, Sanders has reacted poorly when socialism has been criticized. Perhaps he has realized that a full-on embrace of dictatorships is not going to win him the nomination, much less the presidency.
This newfound acknowledgment by Sanders of the evils of Soviet communism seems to differ from the stances he has taken in the past.
Throughout his career, Sanders has been an unapologetic defender of communist regimes, praising their advances in areas such as literacy and health care. What he has failed to mention is that these advances, if they existed, come at the cost of horrible human rights abuses.
At least the senator has changed his tone enough to acknowledge the existence of the gulags.
Sanders and his followers have stopped pointing to unfortunate examples such as the Soviet Union, Venezuela and Cuba. They have realized that these countries are not exactly helping their argument.
Instead, they have turned to a more palatable answer: Scandinavian countries.
These examples have been the used as the ultimate remedy anytime people bring up the horrid failures of socialism.
Sanders followed this line of thinking in his response to Beste’s question by citing the example of Finland.
“They have a very democratic society with strong democratic socialist principles,” he said. “Everybody in Finland has health care as a right. Their educational system is perhaps the best in the world, and college there is free.”
The senator continued, “When we talk about democratic socialism, I am talking about Finland, I am talking about Denmark, I am talking about Sweden. I am talking about countries all over the world who have used their government to try to improve life for working families, not just the people on top.”
Fox town hall moderator Martha McCallum questioned Sanders on his defense of the Scandinavian countries and his definition of those countries as socialist.
She pointed out that the countries cited by Sanders have been gradually moving away from the socialist model.
“Basically,” McCallum said, “since the ’90s, if you look at examples in Sweden and Denmark, they have been lowering or cutting property taxes, lowering corporate taxes, allowing vouchers for schools, for public schools and private schools, which is one of the reasons why their education has improved. … They appear to be moving away, more towards market reform, and not towards what you’re describing you’d like to see here.”
“I’m not an expert on the current economy in Sweden,” Sanders said in a perplexing response.
That statement should be a cause of concern for any voter.
Has Sanders not been campaigning on dismantling the U.S. economy and rebuilding it to mimic those of the Scandinavian countries? If that is the goal, shouldn’t the person promoting it be somewhat familiar with those economies?
The entire exchange highlighted the weaknesses in the democratic socialists’ argument. Basically, there is no true example where their ideas have worked.
If this is the strongest response Sanders can muster, perhaps the Democratic Party did the right thing by throwing him aside for Biden.
At the Fox News town hall, Beste had the correct idea with her question.
Voters must keep making Sanders defend his socialist ideology against its historical record of corruption and devastation.
With enough scrutiny, the differences between the ideas of Bernie Sanders and those of failed dictators start to appear very small.
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