Bernie Sanders is a self-described socialist—but don’t worry, he promises it’s not the same kind of socialism that slaughtered tens of millions of people in China and the Soviet Union, or the kind of socialism that created the economic and political turmoil now rampant in Venezuela.
According to Sanders and other socialists, their form of socialism is kinder, gentler, and respects the rights of everyone. But as a recent hidden video recording of a Sanders campaign staff reveals, by “everyone,” many American socialists only mean those people who agree with their command-and-control agenda.
Earlier in January, James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas released a terrifying video featuring Kyle Jurek, an Iowa field organizer for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. (If Jurek hasn’t been fired yet so the campaign can save face, I’m sure he will be soon.)
In the video, Jurek makes one disturbing, authoritarian comment after another. For example, at one point, Jurek talks about what will happen to supporters of President Trump—who he ironically labels “fascists”—if Sanders were to become president. According to Jurek, those Americans deplorable enough to vote for the president will need to be “re-educated.”
“I mean, we gotta try,” Jurek said. “So like, in Nazi Germany after the fall of the Nazi Party, there was a s**t ton of the populace that was f***ing Nazi-fied. Germany had to spend billions of dollars re-educating their f***ing people to not be Nazis. Like, we’re probably going to have to do the same f***ing thing here. That’s kind of what Bernie’s whole f***ing like, ‘Hey, free education for everybody!’—because we’re going to have to teach you to not be a f***ing Nazi.”
How, exactly, does this Sanders campaign staffer plan to “re-educate” people, you might be wondering? By bringing back the Soviet gulags.
“There’s a reason Joseph Stalin had gulags, right?,” Jurek said. “And actually, gulags were a lot better than what the CIA has told us that they were. Like, people were actually paid a living wage in gulags, they had conjugal visits in gulags, gulags were actually meant for like re-education. … Greatest way to breaking a f***ing billionaire of their like privilege and the idea that they’re superior, go out and break rocks for 12 hours a day. You’re now a working-class person and you’re going to f***ing learn what that means, right?”
Many will dismiss Jurek’s socialist insanity as the rantings of a single lunatic, but there are several important reasons Americans should take this sort of violent, hateful, dangerous socialist rhetoric very seriously.
First, if Jurek is the kind of person Sanders and his staff chooses to help them win the presidency, it’s not unreasonable to think there are other radical leftists in the campaign who could make their way into government positions if Sanders were to win in November. At the very least, the mere fact someone as crazy as Jurek managed to get a job in the Sanders campaign should call into question the judgment of the Sanders campaign.
Additionally, Jurek’s comments are completely in line with similar statements made in recent years by numerous writers, thinkers, and activists on the left. Take the violent activities of Antifa, for example, or the many instances of left-wing protesters rioting in the streets to stop conservative speakers on college campuses. They, too, have argued that extreme actions—even violence—is justified to silence people who they consider to be “Nazis.”
Third, the violence espoused by Jurek is part of a long tradition of socialist authoritarianism around the world. From China’s one-child (now two-child) policy and mass incarcerations to the violent socialist takeovers that occurred throughout the twentieth century in Africa, Asia, and South America, there’s a clear connection between those who argue in favor of socialism and the establishment of despotic government.
Finally, Jurek’s comments represent the logical end of an ideology that mixes a powerful centralized government, the reduction of individual economic and social rights, and allegations of “existential crises” that must be addressed immediately.
If climate change really is, as Elizabeth Warren has said repeatedly, putting “life on Earth at risk,” and if billionaires and corporations truly are putting democracy in danger, then why shouldn’t government lock up billionaires who don’t comply with socialists’ demands or throw fossil-fuel executives in prison or limit religious rights that conflict with government-run health care proposals? And why shouldn’t those in the middle class with homes and retirement accounts be forced to give whatever they have to help “save the planet” or to fix perceived economic “injustices”?
At the end of the day, the biggest problem with socialism, including democratic socialism, isn’t that it leads to economic chaos. It does, of course, but the primary issue is that socialism gives all of the economic, social, and political power in society to a small group of people in government who act—in the best-case scenario—on behalf of a simple majority. That means individuals don’t really have any rights that protect them from the demands of an angry, greedy, or vindictive majority—or the “mob,” as the Founding Fathers called it.
Under a democratic socialist model, there’s absolutely nothing stopping 50 percent of the population plus one person from voting in politicians who force the other half of the country to pay ever higher taxes or suffer under brutal constraints. There’s nothing that restrains the majority from taking away religious, social, or economic rights. The only “rights” belong to those in charge or are bestowed by them. In socialism, the collective, not the individual, is king, and everyone is worse off as a result.
Of course, Sen. Sanders isn’t openly calling for tyranny, and he might very well be a wonderful human being. But many failed socialist states started with exactly the same rhetoric as Sanders is preaching now. “Trust us,” they say. “Those with wealth are to blame for all your problems. Take their wealth away and you’ll have everything you’ll ever need.”
But, eventually, it always ends the same way: with tyranny.
But don’t take my word for it. Listen to Kyle Jurek instead. He couldn’t have been clearer about what he hopes will happen in his future American socialist paradise—and it couldn’t be more horrifying.
Justin Haskins is editor-in-chief of StoppingSocialism.com, a New York Times bestselling author, and the director of the Socialism Research Center at The Heartland Institute. Follow him on social media @JustinTHaskins.