What would a President Bernie Sanders do if he were elected in 2020?
The self-declared democratic socialist has been clear about his support of such policies as universal health care and free college tuition. But CNN found that when he first ran for the Senate in the 1970s, he advocated full-blown socialist policies such as nationalizing major industries, including energy companies, factories and banks.
And he campaigned for a 100 percent income tax for the wealthiest Americans.
The network said Sanders’ “past views shed light on a formative period of his political career that could become relevant as he advances in the 2020 Democratic primary.”
The past positions, CNN observed, “could provide fodder for moderate Democrats and Republicans looking to cast the Democratic presidential candidate and his beliefs as a fringe form of socialism that would be harmful to the country.”
CNN noted that aspects of Sanders’ plans and time as a member of the far-left Liberty Union Party have been reported before, “but the material taken together, including hundreds of newly digitalized newspapers and files from the Liberty Union Party archived at the University of Vermont, paint a fuller portrait of Sanders’ views on state and public-controlled industry at the time.”
CNN obtained a statement from Sanders campaign spokesman Josh Orton.
“Throughout his career, Bernie has fought on the side of working people and against the influence of both the powerful ultra-rich and giant corporations who seek only to further their own greed,” Orton said.
“The record shows that from the very beginning, Bernie anticipated and worked to combat the rise of a billionaire ruling class and the exploding power of Wall Street and multinational corporations. Whether fighting to lower energy prices or expand access to capital for local development, Bernie’s first priority has always been — and will always be — defending the interests of working people across the country.”
Under the Liberty Union Party, Sanders, in his early 30s, ran for governor of Vermont in 1972 and 1976. And he was a candidate for U.S. Senate in 1972 and 1974.
He also served as chairman of the party from 1973-1975.
At the time, CNN said, Sanders and Liberty Union “argued for nationalization of the energy industry, public ownership of banks, telephone, electric, and drug companies and of the major means of production such as factories and capital, as well as other proposals such as a 100% income tax on the highest income earners in America.”
CNN: Do you envision a socialist America?
In a town-hall-style interview, Blitzer recalled President Trump’s declaration in his State of the Union address earlier this month.
Blitzer asked: “Senator, President Trump said in a State of the Union address, and I am quoting him now, this is the president, ‘America will never be a socialist country.’ Will that hold true if you’re elected president?”
Sanders replied: “If I am elected president, we will have a nation in which all people have health care as a right. Whether Trump likes it or not. We are going to make public colleges and universities tuition free. We are going to raise the minimum wage to a living wage of at least 15 bucks an hour, and whether Trump likes it or not, when I talk about human rights, you know what that also means, it means that our kids and grandchildren have the human right to grow up in a planet that is healthy and habitable. And it is really a disgrace and an embarrassment that we have a president who rejects science, who does not even understand that climate change is real and caused by human activity, who does not understand what this planet will look like in years to come if we do not go forward boldly and transform our energy system away from fossil fuels.”