Bernie Sanders in 1972: 'I Don't Mind People ... Calling Me a Communist'

By Michael W. Chapman | February 20, 2020 | 11:56am EST
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a self-described socialist and democratic socialist,  told high school students in 1972 that he did not mind if people called him a "communist."

Sanders has a long history of radical, left-wing ideas, including the nationalization of major industries and a 100% tax on income above $1 million.

Enlarged screenshot from article in the Rutland Daily Herald, Sept. 27, 1972. (
Enlarged screenshot from article in the Rutland Daily Herald, Sept. 27, 1972. (

In 1972, Sanders ran as a gubernatorial candidate on the Liberty Union Party ticket. During the campaign, Sanders spoke with students at an alternative high school in Rutland, Vt. 

As the Rutland Daily Herald reported on Sept. 27, 1972: "At the alternative school, Sanders lounged with about 15 students in the living room, answering questions on state and national issues.

"'I don't mind people coming up and calling me a Communist,' Sanders commented. 'At least they're still alive,' he noted, focusing on the issue of voter apathy."

Screentshot of Rutland Daily Herald, Sept. 27, 1972.  (
Screentshot of Rutland Daily Herald, Sept. 27, 1972. (

During the Democratic debate in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Democrat Michael Bloomberg alluded to Sanders' radical beliefs. 

"We're not going to throw out capitalism," Bloomberg said in response to Sanders' policies. "We tried that. Other countries tried that. It was called communism, and it just didn't work."

Sanders then shot back, "let's talk about democratic socialism, not communism, Mr. Bloomberg, that's a cheap shot."

Editor Elliot Kaufman recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal, while "[c]ampaigning for U.S. Senate in 1971, he [Sanders] demanded the nationalization of utilities. In 1973 he proposed a federal takeover of 'the entire energy industry,' and in 1974 he wanted a 100% tax on all income above $1 million."

"In 1976 he asserted that workers needed to 'take immediate control of the economy if we are to survive' and called for 'public ownership of utilities, banks and major industries," stated The Journal.  He had a plan for “public control over capital.” As late as 1987 he asserted that “democracy means public ownership of the major means of production.”

Sen. Sanders and fellow "democratic socialist" Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) (Getty Images)
Sen. Sanders and fellow "democratic socialist" Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) (Getty Images)

Also, in 1981 Bernie Sanders had "begun a dalliance with the Socialist Workers Party [SWP], a communist group that had followed Leon Trotsky," reported The Journal.  "Mr. Sanders endorsed the SWP’s presidential nominee in 1980 and 1984, spoke at SWP campaign rallies during that period, and in 1980 was part of its slate of would-be presidential electors."

According to The Black Book of Communism (Harvard University Press), more than 100 million people were killed in communist regimes in the 20th century, places such as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Red China, North Korea, Eastern Europe (1945-1989), Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba, and other tyrannies. 

Also, the Communist Soviet Union was instrumental in helping to start World War II by working out a deal with Nazi Germany (national socialism) in the summer of 1939 for the invasion (and territorial division) of Poland.  Nazi Germany invaded Poland from the west on Sept. 1, 1939 and the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east on Sept. 17, 1939.

The Nazis and the Soviets launched a war that led to the death of an estimated 50 million people worldwide. Although the Nazis were defeated in May 1945, the Soviets enslaved Eastern Europe and half of Germany and did not leave those nations for 44 years. An estimated 30 million people were slaughtered for political reasons in the USSR.

h/t The Washington Examiner, The Wall Street Journal 

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