Senator Bernie Sanders, who is 78, says his age is an asset. He says his age is a plus because it means he’s been fighting for the same ideas for decades. As Cato Institute scholar David Boaz points out, during that period, Sanders “hung the Soviet flag on his office wall, honeymooned in the Soviet union,” and “served as a Vermont elector for a Trotskyist party.”
Trotskyists are followers of Leon Trotsky, a Russian Communist who lost a power struggle to Joseph Stalin over who would become ruler of Communist Russia. After Stalin became dictator, his regime killed at least 20 million people, through murder, torture, and deliberate starvation. That included the man-made famine known as the Holodomor, in which Stalin’s regime killed millions of Ukrainian peasants by confiscating their food.
Sanders was once a follower of Trotsky, who relished the use of mass terror. Trotsky enjoyed mass executions as much as Stalin, and thought that Stalin was a softy when it came to crushing dissent in the countryside. Trotsky complained that Stalin’s approach to peasants was “insufficiently militarized.” Trotsky might well have killed even more people than Stalin had he become Russia’s dictator. In the 1920’s, Trotsky seemed more extreme than Stalin to most members of the Russian Communist Party. That’s why many of them preferred Stalin to Trotsky (ironically, Stalin later killed most of the Russian Communist Party in the Great Purge).
Sanders’ persistence in advocating socialism appears to have paid off. After years of rejecting socialism, Democrats now appear to be embracing it.
In 2018, Democrats replaced several non-socialist Democratic incumbents with avowed socialists, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This June, the California Democratic Convention booed former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D), when he said “Socialism is not the answer.”
Support for socialism has spread across the country, to even southern states, like Virginia. Once-conservative Prince William County, Virginia is represented by Lee Carter, a “self-described Socialist” Democrat.
Most Democrats in Virginia, not just Carter, now agree with Sanders on major policy issues, such as labor policy. That includes seeking to repeal Virginia’s right-to-work law, which used to be supported by both Democratic and Republican governors in the state (like Doug Wilder and Mark Warner), but now is opposed by almost all Democrats in Virginia.
Sanders supports rent control, which is a priority for socialist politicians. Rent control is also supported by some of Sanders’ Democratic colleagues in the Senate, such as Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. Rent control was recently imposed in California and Oregon, and some Virginia Democrats have expressed support for it as well.
On the other hand, economists still mostly oppose rent control, even those economists who are Democrats. Rent control remains unpopular among many, and seems unlikely to be adopted in much of the country, unless Sanders’ proposal of national rent control is adopted.