During a CNN town hall on Monday, self-proclaimed democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) was put on the spot after a question about failed socialist systems across the world.
One student from Harvard questioned Sanders’ openness to social programs, pointing out that socialist countries often face serious issues because of the policies.
“My father’s family left Soviet Russia in 1979 fleeing from some of the very same socialist policies that you seem eager to implement in this country,” said the student. “How do you rectify your notion of democratic socialism with the failures of socialism in nearly every country that has tried it?”
“Thank you for asking that question,” he continued. “Is it your assumption that I supported or believe in authoritarian communism that existed in the Soviet Union? I don’t. I never have, and I opposed it. I believe in a vigorous democracy.”
Yet Sanders has been called out in the past for praising the Soviet Union after visiting, but now claims that Soviet Union socialism is not his “thing,” as IJR Red previously reported.
Watch Sanders praise the Soviet Union in 1988 below:
Hear U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders praising the Soviet dictatorship after a 1988 trip there. Now he praises the Chavista dictatorship in Venezuela. As the Communists call it, a perfect useful idiotpic.twitter.com/IK4JblIQeq
— Alfons López Tena #FBPE (@alfonslopeztena) February 25, 2019
Sanders argued there is “something fundamentally wrong” when “we have three families owning more wealth than the bottom half of American society, 160 million people. Something wrong when the top 1% owns more wealth than the bottom 92%. Something very wrong when 49% of all new income today is going to the top 1%.”
Watch the town hall moment:
He then pushed for socialist policies but did not mention how the government would sustainably pay for them.
“What democratic socialism means to me is we expand Medicare, we provide educational opportunity to all Americans, we rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. In other words, government serves the needs of all people rather than just wealthy campaign contributors. That’s what it means to me,” Sanders said.
As IJR Red previously reported, many 2020 Democratic candidates are following Sanders’ support of socialist policies, but so far many have offered only vague plans of how to pay for integrating the new system.