On Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) revealed some very bad news for his campaign: he’s a millionaire. Sanders, who has been pressured to turn over his tax returns for the last ten years, finally acquiesced, announcing he would do so — and admitting that he is, in fact, worth more than a million dollars. “April 15 is coming,” Sanders told The New York Times. “We wanted to release 10 years of tax returns. April 15, 2019 will be the 10th year, so I think you will see them.”
Sanders then added, contrasting his own wealth with that of President Trump, “Not being a billionaire, not having investments in Saudi Arabia, wherever he has investments, all over the world, mine will be a little bit more boring.” He then conceded, “I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.”
That’s a pretty stunning admission from a self-professed socialist who has spent most of his career decrying the evils of the capitalist system while benefiting directly from that system. Sanders has been mocked, of course, for owning three homes in the past. But his statement that those who work hard can indeed get ahead — that if you write a bestselling book you can also be a millionaire — is direct from the Ayn Rand approach to the free market.
Unlike other rich redistributionists like Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, Sanders doesn’t generally pay homage to free markets, then call for redistribution. Each day, he tweets out miffed riffs on the evils of free markets, suggesting that any system that produces rich people is inherently flawed on a moral level. He occasionally pays lip service to capitalism, but only in order to swivel and call for nationalization of major sectors of the American economy. In the 1970s, he urged nationalization of nearly every major industry in the United States. In 1988, he explained that his brand of socialism revolved around a system “where human beings can own the means of production and work together rather than having to work as semi-slaves to other people who can hire and fire.” During that same time period, asked about breadlines in Nicaragua, Sanders stated, “It’s funny, sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is, that people are lining up for food. That is a good thing! In other countries people don’t line up for food: the rich get the food and the poor starve to death.”
In 2016, Sanders was asked by Anderson Cooper whether he considered himself to be a capitalist. Sanders’ response: “Do I consider myself part of the casino-capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little by which Wall Street’s greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No, I don’t. I believe in a society where all people do well. Not just a handful of billionaires.”
But now Sanders says that anyone can get ahead by writing a bestseller. Now, here’s the truth: Bernie didn’t build that. He’s spent his entire adult life on the public dole. He has used public resources to build his notoriety. He then used that notoriety to sell a book predicated on the supposed injustices of the American free market system.
Still, Sanders’ belated embrace of the free market should come as a relief to most Americans who still understand that capitalism works. Too bad Sanders hasn’t spent any of his millions on a mirror.