Before he was a Democratic Socialist, Bernie Sanders pushed for nationalizing major industries in the 1970s

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders pushed for the nationalization of most major industries as a leader of a “radical political party” in the 1970s, according to a new report.
  • Sanders reportedly embraced nationalizing most major industries in the US, including the energy industry and banks, as well as telephone, electric, and drug companies.
  • The Vermont senator is not quite as far to the left in the present day but still gets labelled a “radical” by political opponents because of his progressive platform.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has at times been labelled a radical for his progressive policy platform, but his politics are actually far more moderate than they were in the 1970s, according to a new CNN report.

At that time, Sanders reportedly embraced nationalizing most major industries in the US, including the energy industry and banks, as well as telephone, electric, and drug companies.

“I favour the public ownership of utilities, banks and major industries,” Sanders said in an interview with The Burlington Free Press in 1976.


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Sanders, who the report described as the leader of a “radical political party” known as the Liberty Union, was also in favour of a 100% tax increase on the wealthiest cohort of Americans back in those days.

The Vermont senator is still decidedly to the left of many Democrats, including those with whom he’s competing for the Democratic presidential nomination, but he no longer supports nationalization on such a scale.

The presidential hopeful is a self-declared democratic socialist and has long decried wealth inequality while pushing for policies such as universal healthcare and tuition-free college.

“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. 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,” the Sanders campaign spokesman Josh Orton told CNN in a statement.

“Bernie’s first priority has always been – and will always be – defending the interests of working people across the country,” Orton added.

The nationalization of major industries is a concept that many Americans would likely associate with full-blown socialism, a political philosophy that remains a divisive topic in the US – particularly when it comes to the recent chaos in Venezuela.

President Donald Trump has sought to tie the Democratic party to socialism, pointing to Sanders in particular, as part of his 2020 campaign messaging.


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“Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” Trump said during his State of the Union address in February. “America was founded on liberty and independence – not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

During a recent CNN town hall, Sanders explained what being a Democratic socialist means to him.

“What democratic socialism means to me is having in a civilized society, the understanding that we can make sure that all of our people live in security and in dignity,” Sanders said at the time.

“To me, when I talk about democratic socialism, what I talk about are human rights and economic rights.”

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