Under Obama, conservative accusations of socialism were met with media protests that it wasn't really socialism. Are we socialist yet?
"I favor the public ownership of utilities, banks and major industries," Sanders said in one interview with the Burlington Free Press in 1976.
After moving to Vermont in 1968 several years after graduating college, Sanders became an active member of the left-wing Liberty Union Party. Under the Liberty Union banner, Sanders, then in his early 30s, ran for governor of Vermont in 1972 and 1976 and as a candidate for US Senate in 1972 and 1974. Sanders, also served as chairman of the party from 1973-1975. During this time, Sanders and Liberty Union argued for nationalization of the energy industry, public ownership of banks, telephone, electric, and drug companies and of the major means of production such as factories and capital, as well as other proposals such as a 100% income tax on the highest income earners in America.
In 1973, during his time as chairman of the Liberty Union Party, Sanders took to a Vermont paper to oppose Richard Nixon's energy policy and oil industry profits, calling for the entire energy industry to be nationalized. Consumers at the time had been facing steep price increases and heavy shortages as a result of the OPEC oil embargo.
"I would also urge you to give serious thought about the eventual nationalization of these gigantic companies," Sanders wrote in a December 1973 open letterto Vermont Sen. Robert Stafford that ran in the Vermont Freeman. "It is extremely clear that these companies, owned by a handful of billionaires, have far too much power over the lives of Americans to be left in private hands. The oil industry, and the entire energy industry, should be owned by the public and used for the public good -- not for additional profits for billionaires."
In 1976, Sanders went even further: calling for the state to seize ownership of Vermont's private electric companies without compensation to investors. He defended his proposals routinely by pointing out that municipally owned utilities, not uncommon throughout the country, often had lower consumer prices.
I will be campaigning in support of the Liberty Union utility proposal which calls for the public ownership of Vermont's private electric companies without compensation to the banks and wealthy stockholders who own the vast majority of stock in these companies," he said in a July 1976 press release. "I will also be calling for public ownership of the telephone company -- which is probably the single greatest rip-off company in America."
Sanders' plan would require large businesses attempting to leave cities to get permission from the towns and the workers in them. If the company did not get that approval they would be required by law to pay a guaranteed two years of severance for workers and 10 years of taxes for the town.
Nationally, Sanders said, legislation corporations leaving cities would have to be dealt with by turning the means of production over to the workers.
Asked about healthcare, Sanders said there would need to be publicly-controlled drug companies.
"I believe in socialized medicine, public ownership of the drug companies and placing doctors on salaries. The idea that millionaires can make money by selling poor people drugs that they desperately need for highly inflated prices disgusts me," he said.
You can imagine how much progress a government company will make in researching and producing new medications.
Bernie Sanders claims that he no longer believes in that brand of socialism. But look who his new speechwriter is.
A left-wing journalist just added to the staff of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., once celebrated Hugo Chavez's leadership in Venezuela, claiming that "his brand of socialism achieved real economic gains."
The Sanders campaign announced Tuesday morning that David Sirota would be joining as a communications adviser and speechwriter, further solidifying Sanders as the socialist alternative in a growing field of 2020 candidates.
In 2013, Sirota wrote a lengthy defense for Slate on Chavez's reign in Venezuela shortly after the dictator's death, which he called an "economic miracle."
Critics say that Sirota's defense of Venezuelan-style socialism finds an appropriate home in the Sanders campaign. Earlier this year, video surfaced of Sanders defending breadlines in the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s.
Breadlines 2020. That should be the Bernie campaign theme.