Independent Vermont Sen. and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Monday that “what happened and existed” in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was not socialism.
During a Fox News town hall with Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, a woman named Margaret asked Bernie what the difference is between his brand of “democratic socialism” and the socialism of the USSR. (RELATED: Bernie Sanders Doubles Down On Castro Comments by Defending Communist China)
“As someone from Russia, a country that was greatly impacted by the negative effects of socialism, what assurances can you offer myself and other people impacted by socialism that democratic socialism will not have the same effects?”
Bernie Sanders tells an audience member who is from Russia that “what happened and existed in the Soviet Union was not socialism, it was authoritarian communism.”
The audience cheered at his answer. pic.twitter.com/f0do0MJuRp
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) March 9, 2020
Bernie responded by telling her that “what happened and existed in the Soviet Union was not socialism, it was authoritarian communism” and denounced communism as being “marked by totalitarianism.”
He went on to say that Finland is a “very democratic society with strong democratic socialist principles.”
“When we talk about democratic socialism, Margaret, I’m talking about Finland, I’m talking about Denmark, I’m talking about Sweden, I’m talking about countries all over the world that have used their government to try to improve life for working families, not just the people on top.”
MacCallum later explained to the senator how countries like Sweden and Denmark have embraced market-based reforms over the last few decades that have allowed them to maintain their large welfare states.
This is your must watch clip from the Bernie townhall.@marthamaccallum explains to Bernie that Sweden and Denmark are not even remotely close to being socialist countries.
His response is “I’m not an expert on the current economy in Sweden.” pic.twitter.com/Txb3DemHtI
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) March 9, 2020
Bernie responded by saying “I am not an expert on the current economy in Sweden” and went on to tout the successes of Nordic country social programs. (RELATED: ‘It Was Called Communism, And It Just Didn’t Work: Bloomberg And Sanders Spar Over Taxes and Wealth)
“All I can say is that they have gone a long way to eliminate poverty, to make sure that their people have all the basic needs that they need in order to live good lives.”
Bernie has come under fire during his campaign for his history of praising communist regimes all over the world, notably the USSR, China, Cuba, and Nicaragua. He received bipartisan criticism recently for doubling down on praising Fidel Castro’s literacy program in Cuba.
After leading the field for the first four contests, Sanders is now trailing Vice President Joe Biden in the delegate count after Biden’s strong showing on Super Tuesday.