Bernie Sanders has nowhere to go, so there he was on the debate stage Sunday night across from the Democratic frontrunner, Joe Biden. Despite having lost big at the ballot box in recent primaries, Sanders says he is staying in the race to influence the direction of his party. He wants more Democrats to adopt his peculiar views. However, it’s not just Republicans or conservatives who find Sanders’ opinions curious, or even offensive. Sanders has earned the criticism of his fellow Democrats for repeatedly praising Cuba’s supposedly excellent literacy programs.
Several of the questions at the debate Sunday night were intended to explore Sanders’ thinking. And his answers illustrate just how confused he really is. For instance, debate moderator Ilia Calderón asked Sanders about his praise for certain aspects of the Castro regime. “Cuba has been a dictatorship for decades,” Calderón noted. “Shouldn’t we judge dictators by the violation of human rights and not by any of their alleged achievements?”
In his answer, Sanders quickly pivoted to a defense of China’s economic policies. Here was his answer in full (emphasis added):
Well, I think you can make the same point about China. China is undoubtedly an authoritarian society. Okay? But would anybody deny, any economists deny that extreme poverty in China today is much less than what it was 40 or 50 years ago? That’s a fact. So I think we condemn authoritarianism, whether it’s in China, Russia, Cuba, any place else. But to simply say that nothing ever done by any of those administrations had a positive impact on their people, would I think be incorrect.