Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) campaign responded to criticisms from CNN over its socialist platform late this week by quoting Shakespeare and making a false claim.
Nina Turner, national co-chair of the Sanders campaign, made the remarks during a segment on CNN’s “Newsroom,” which featured fallout from this week’s Democrat debate on NBC.
CNN’s Brooke Baldwin said, “There’s this new ‘Wall Street Journal’/NBC News poll that found that two-thirds of the respondents said that they were actually uncomfortable with a socialist president.”
“But when you break it down – Shakespeare once said, what is in a name? A rose by any other name smells just as sweet,” Turner responded. “What is Democratic socialism? It is government of the people, by the people, and for the people. What does that mean?”
“I am talking about this particular poll,” Baldwin responded. “And I want to – I want an answer on the fact that the majority of America is not comfortable with a socialist president.”
“He is a Democratic socialist,” Turner said, later claiming that “the majority of the American people” support Sanders’ government run health care program and free college.
“Nina, you keep pivoting,” Baldwin pressed. “You got to answer the question.”
“So, for all of the people trying to make hay over the word, Senator Sanders is not talking about socialism in a traditional sense, in terms of what happens in Europe,” Turner falsely claimed. “He never once said that the government should take over the production of all goods and services in this country.”
For starters, Sanders, who is a socialist, has repeatedly tried to brand his socialism as being the same thing that European countries like Denmark, Finland, and Norway, have – which is false. Those countries are capitalist countries that have large social safety nets – also known as big government welfare programs – that hamper economic growth.
The myth of Nordic socialism is partially created by a confusion between socialism, meaning government exerting control or ownership of businesses, and the welfare state in the form of government-provided social safety net programs. However, the left’s embrace of socialism is not merely a case of redefining a word. Simply look at the long-running affinity of leftists with socialist dictators in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela for proof many on the left long for real socialism.
To the extent that the left wants to point to an example of successful socialism, not just generous welfare states, the Nordic countries are actually a poor case to cite. Regardless of the perception, in reality the Nordic countries practice mostly free market economics paired with high taxes exchanged for generous government entitlement programs.
First, it is worth noting that the Nordic counties were economic successes before they built their welfare states. Those productive economies, generating good incomes for their workers, allowed the governments to raise the tax revenue needed to pay for the social benefits. It was not the government benefits that created wealth, but wealth that allowed the luxury of such generous government programs.
Sanders’ claim that he wants to be like those countries is false, which is evidenced by his repeated demonization of capitalism – which leads to the next point: Sanders is a socialist.
Turner’s claim that Sanders has “never once” advocated for the government to take over the production of goods and services in the U.S. is false.
Sanders has repeatedly advocated for nationalization ranging from the 1970s – when he “urged the nationalization of most major industries,” according to CNN – to his current socialist campaign for president, where is he advocating for forcing everyone off of their private health insurance plans and onto a government run health care system, according to The New York Times.