Insurgent socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) gave the thumbs up to an imperialist warmonger and fierce critic of socialism at Thursday’s debate.
A 40-year-old stay-at-home dad participating in the PBS debate through Facebook asked Sanders and embattled Secretary of State Hillary Clinton which domestic and foreign leaders most influenced their foreign policy philosophy. Sanders praised Franklin Delano Roosevelt before endorsing British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, despite reservations about the World War II hero’s politics.
"As the foreign leader, Winston Churchill's politics were not my politics. He was kind of a conservative guy in many respects. But nobody can deny that as a wartime leader, he rallied the British people when they stood virtually alone against the Nazi juggernaut and rallied them and eventually won an extraordinary victory," he told the Wisconsin audience.
The caveat is important given Churchill’s frank criticism of Sanders’ brand of socialism.
"Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy," Churchill said in a 1948 address to the Scottish Unionist Conference.
Churchill balked at the class warfare tactics and ethos of socialism. He was also an ardent colonialist, an ideology despised by the radical students and college professors propping up Sanders’ "revolutionary" campaign. Churchill balked at free trade proposals among English colonies proposed by Sanders’ other hero, Roosevelt.
Roosevelt’s son Elliot recalled a tense meeting between the two in which the American president said free trade—another policy Sanders opposes—would lift British colonies out of poverty.
"Those Empire trade agreements are a case in point. It's because of them that the people of India and Africa, of all the colonial Near East and Far East, are still as backward as they are," Roosevelt said.
"Mr. President, England does not propose for a moment to lose its favored position among the British Dominions. The trade that has made England great shall continue," Churchill reportedly said.
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