Bernie Sanders, the Most Useful Idiot

Sen. Bernie Sanders addresses a town hall at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, February 1, 2020. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Bernie Sanders is, to put it gently, either terminally obtuse, mentally unbalanced, or dangerously dishonest.

That Sanders could’ve visited the Soviet Union during the Cold War and, with all of the evidence before him, come back extolling the country’s systems, programs, and infrastructure, reveals either stupidity on a galactic scale, certifiable delusion, or a willingness to perpetuate the greatest lie in modern history.

Sanders could’ve saved the time and expense of the trip had he instead talked to someone like Nikolai Kirsanow who, years before Sanders’s captivating trip to the Soviet Union, escaped from the NKVD. Unlike the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, he had absolutely no illusions about socialism and Communism. (Lenin: “The goal of socialism is communism.”) Scars and illusions are rarely compatible. Indeed, had Sanders talked to émigrés from any Soviet bloc country about “socialism,” most would’ve urgently warned, “Friend, do not go down this path. We’ve seen this movie before. It always begins with promises and hope. It never ends well.” Yet Sanders skips cheerfully down that path, seemingly oblivious to the repression, scarcity, misery, and death that his preferred system inevitably produces.

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Some of Sanders’s millennial supporters, 70 percent of whom express willingness to vote for socialism, may be forgiven. A Gramscian educational establishment has misled and failed them horribly. So too, mainstream media. How else could they look favorably — or even indifferently — upon an ideology that churns out scores of millions of corpses? Besides, never discount the eternal appeal of “free” stuff.

But Sanders has no excuse. He’s been around a long time. Long enough to know better. Yet he’s praised the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Nicaragua, even after visiting those places, talking to their tyrannical leaders, and surveying their “accomplishments.” And now, he’s moving closer to becoming the most “useful idiot” in history.

But he’s not an idiot.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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