Bernie Sanders Claims His Ideas and Policies Aren't 'Far-Left'


No self-described socialist has gotten as close to the presidency as Bernie Sanders has since Eugene V. Debs, who didn’t get very close at all.

Sanders probably could have gotten a lot closer to the Democratic Party nomination in 2016 if the party’s machinery hadn’t been arrayed against him. That won’t be the problem in 2020 when he’s arguably not the candidate furthest to the left.

Just because there are some people willing to test the edges of the political spectrum more than he is (coughcoughElizabethWarrencough) doesn’t mean that he’s not far-left. Again, the man is a self-described socialist. If you describe yourself as such, we can pretty much be assured you’re on the fringes of the left.

Don’t tell that to him, however.

At the NAACP’s Economic Freedom in Iowa on Saturday, the independent Vermont senator insisted he’s not peddling extreme ideas or anything like that.

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“My ideas are not far-left, they are the ideas that the American people want,” Sanders told the audience.

BERNIE: “My ideas are not Far-Left. They are the ideas that the American people want.”

There you have it. He’s even doing that odd Dick Nixon-esque thing he does where he puts his arms up and shakes his hands around. That’s pretty much how you can tell when he’s laying it on thick.

This wasn’t Sanders’ best appearance, it must be noted. Most of the headlines from his time at the NAACP forum involved him being asked a question about childcare and responding with a lengthy diatribe about health care.

However, not far-left? I suppose nobody thinks they’re far-anything, but I would hope Sanders might be someone who might have enough self-awareness to apply the label to himself.

Sanders’ career has been spent pandering to individuals and governments on the left of the left. With Cuba, for instance, he was more than happy to talk about the multifarious charms of Fidel Castro.

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In 1986, Sanders said that as a young man, it “seemed right and appropriate that poor people were rising up against the ugly rich people” in Cuba and that he actually got sick to his stomach watching the Nixon-Kennedy debates as a young man since neither one seemed to significantly affirm the Cuban revolution.

Sanders also honeymooned in the Soviet Union and defended Nicaragua, a brutal Soviet client state, also during the 1980s.

Also, bread lines? Actually not a bad sign:

“It’s funny, sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is, that people are lining up for food,” Bernie said. “That is a good thing. In other countries people don’t line up for food: the rich get the food and the poor starve to death.”

This was in the 1980s, granted. If he’s softened, it’s because he likes getting elected. That doesn’t mean he’s changed in any substantive way, however.

If you don’t believe me, take this tidbit from a 2011 Op-Ed: “These days, the American dream is more apt to be realized in South America, in places such as Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina, where incomes are actually more equal today than they are in the land of Horatio Alger,” he wrote. “Who’s the banana republic now?”

Still Ecuador (currently undergoing a wave of violent protests and under the same ruling coalition it was in 2011), Venezuela (a socialist hellscape for a good long while and not getting any better) and Argentina (Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the country’s left-wing Peronist/populist leader in 2011 recently returned to power as vice president, although this position is heavily qualified by the multitude of corruption indictments she still faces from her first stint helming the country).

Beyond this, Sanders is pushing a massively expensive version of single-payer health care in the form of “Medicare for All” (the one thing we can say about his plan is that it’s possibly less expensive than Elizabeth Warren’s, although this isn’t anything to recommend it) and can also tweet this without apparent irony:

He’s going to defeat “hate” by, in part, appearing with the most noxious anti-Semite to grace Congress since Theodore Bilbo. Right.

Rep. Omar is, like the rest of “the squad,” to the far left. Bernie’s gotten their endorsement. Most of Sanders’ proposals are, at best, adjacent to the far-left — and those have been polished by a campaign staff that knows socialism won’t win a national election. He’s liked plenty of far-left figures and governments.

“Not far-left?” Good luck trying to convince America on that one. I’m not sure if Eugene Debs tried that one out on America, but rest assured it wouldn’t have worked out back then.

It won’t work now, either.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture