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Bernie Sanders in 1970s pushed for nationalization of major industries



Sen. Bernie Sanders has at times been labeled a radical for his progressive policy platform, but his politics are actually far more moderate than they were back 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, public ownership of banks, telephone, electric, and drug companies.

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

Read more: Bernie Sanders hits the 2020 campaign trail with rockstar status, a far cry from the start of the 2016 campaign

Sanders, who the report described as the leader of a “radical political party” known as the Liberty Union, was also in favor 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,” 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.

Read more: Here’s the difference between a ‘socialist’ and a ‘Democratic socialist’

“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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