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Tags: bernie sanders | extremist | socialist | democrat

11 Reasons Bernie Sanders Is an Extremist

bernie sanders campaigns at a rally
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a campaign rally Saturday, Feb. 1 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (John Locher/AP)

By    |   Monday, 03 February 2020 06:36 PM EST

President Donald Trump's remark Sunday that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is "a communist" has refocused the political spotlight on whether Sanders is too extreme to win the 2020 presidential election.

"I think he's a communist," Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity.

"I think of communism when I think of Bernie," Trump added. "Now, you could say socialist – but didn't he get married in Moscow?"

Being labeled a communist, or for that matter a committed socialist, could be a serious millstone for Democrats in the states they must recapture, including Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Electability – the ability to defeat President Trump – has emerged as a major issue in the Democratic primaries. On Sunday, former Secretary of State John Kerry was reportedly overheard in the lobby of a hotel in Des Moines voicing alarm at "the possibility of Bernie Sanders taking down the Democratic Party – down whole." Kerry denied the report.

Here are 11 reasons Democrats worry Sanders might be too extreme for voters in November:

1. Sanders "honeymooned" in Moscow – The year was 1988, when the Soviet Union was very much a reality – and no, Sanders was not married there. But just a day after betrothing his second and current wife, Jane, Sanders traveled to Moscow and Leningrad, which is currently named St. Petersburg. The primary goal of Sanders' 10-day trip was to meet and hobnob with officials in one of Burlington's sister cities, Yaroslavl. He also visited Lenin's Tomb. During the trip, he reportedly criticized U.S. foreign policy and the high cost of U.S. housing and healthcare. Sanders would later describe the trip as "a very strange honeymoon."

2. He also paid a visit to Castro's Cuba – One year later, Sanders made a visit to Fidel Castro's Cuba. He was unable to score a meeting with Cuba's dictator, but he returned to the United States and nonetheless praised Cuba's "very profound and very deep revolution," adding "they are in fact creating a very different value system than the one we are familiar with." He also expressed admiration for Cuba's "free healthcare, free education, free housing." As reported in the Washington Examiner, Sanders also seemed to dismiss reports of persecution by the Castro regime, suggesting "all the horrors in Cuba" that refugees were reporting stemmed from right-wing propaganda.

3. He was a conscientious objector – Sanders sought to avoid serving in the Vietnam War, which he opposed, as a conscientious objector. Citing his Jewish background, he sought a draft deferment. His request for a deferment was rejected after an FBI investigation. But at that point he was 26 and was considered too old to be drafted.

4. One of his heroes was Eugene V. Debs – One of Sanders' heroes is Debs, a socialist and trade unionist who ran five times for the presidency as a socialist in the early 20th century. In 1977, Sanders tried his hand as a filmmaker and produced a 30-minute documentary on Debs. The Washington Post has reported that when Sanders was mayor of Burlington, he hung Debs' portrait in City Hall. Debs opposed U.S. involvement in WWI. He was convicted of sedition and sentenced to serve 10 years in jail. President Warren G. Harding commuted his sentence.

5. He cheered on the Sandinistas – In 1985, Sanders was the only U.S. official to travel to Nicaragua to help the Sandinistas celebrate the sixth anniversary of their revolutionary triumph over dictator Anastasio Somoza. Sanders was 43 at the time. The New York Times reports that in September 1984 he wrote to a Nicaraguan official, stating, "My hope is that in at least some small way, the City of Burlington can play a role in reversing President Reagan's policies in Central America." Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega marked the occasion with a speech in Managua in July 1985 that denounced what he called "U.S. terrorism." Ortega asked the crowd, "Who of you are prepared to take up the rifles to combat the aggressors that imperialism sends and the Yankee invasion if it occurs?" There is no record Sanders criticized Ortega's rhetoric. Indeed, The New York Times reports a Nicaraguan newspaper, El Nuevo Diario, interviewed Sanders at the time and quoted him stating, "After many years of economic and political domination, Nicaragua is determined not to be a banana republic anymore, and it's free to make its own decisions." According to The Atlantic, Sanders later stated, "Anyone who believes the Nicaraguan nation is a military threat to the United States is obviously out of their minds."

6. He sees his politics as revolutionary – In his 2016 concession speech endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, Sanders told his followers, "Together, we have begun a political revolution to transform America and that revolution continues." Today, those words appear increasingly prophetic given the leftward lurch of the Democratic Party ever since.

7. He has a staunchly "anti-imperialist worldview" – A May 2019 New York Times review of papers from his time as Burlington’s mayor shows Sanders was "trying to execute his own foreign policy" as mayor, visiting with the leaders of U.S. rival nations. It stated the papers reflect his "fervently anti-imperialist worldview." It also stated that Sanders "made support for the Sandinistas a personal crusade as mayor."

8. He would like to throw energy executives in jail – In an October interview with CNBC's John Harwood, Sanders said "the executives of Exxon Mobil and other fossil fuel industries knew that the product that they were producing was causing climate change and in fact helping to destroy this planet." Sanders likens them to tobacco executives who "are still selling their bloody products all over the world. Same thing with fossil fuel."

9. He goes soft on Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro – Sanders antagonized Florida Democrats last February when, during an interview with Univision's Jorge Ramos, he would not state whether he believes Maduro is a dictator, instead saying he has been "very, very abusive." He also refused to endorse the legitimacy of National Assembly President Juan Guaido. Miami Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala remarked of Sanders, "He is not going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party. He has demonstrated again that he does not understand this situation."

10. Sky-high Medicare-for-all costs – $32 trillion over 10 years. That is the estimated cost, based on two independent analyses, of Sanders' Medicare for All plan that would eventually do away with private healthcare insurance. Sanders has conceded that middle-class taxes would have to go up to help pay for it. But he contends the eventually savings would more than make up for the additional cost.

11. Some of his campaign staffers are quite radical – According to The Washington Times, the Sanders campaign seems to be a magnet for extremists who would like to see the U.S. government overthrown. His campaign has come under scrutiny from Project Veritas. One staffer was recorded on a hidden camera stating some Sanders staffer prefer "direct action, for engaging in politics outside the electoral system." Another campaign worker talked about colleagues who were anarchists and Marxist-Leninists. O'Keefe has called on Sanders to disavow the workers as unrepresentative of his campaign.

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President Trump's remark Sunday that Sen. Bernie Sanders is "a communist" has refocused the political spotlight on whether the Vermont senator is too extreme to win the 2020 presidential election.
bernie sanders, extremist, socialist, democrat
Monday, 03 February 2020 06:36 PM
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