Bernie Sanders

[Updated: Gun Rights Too!] When Bernie Sanders Called for Ending Compulsory Education & Legalizing All Drugs

The Vermont socialist advanced some libertarian ideas way back in the day.


As Ed Krayewski has noted, insurgent Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) has proposed somewhere in the neighborhood of $18 trillion worth of free stuff if he wins the 2016 election.

If that wasn't enough to make you never vote for him, there's also his cockamamie understanding of economics, which revolve around seeing some sort of zero-sum game between the number of deodorant flavors (scents?) and child poverty.

And he is, by his own definition, a democratic socialist, which mostly means taking some people's money and giving it other people. Which in a way that makes him the most honest candidate running for the White House. 

If there was ever a Bernie Sanders worth voting for from a libertarian perspective, it might have been the one described in a Mother Jones article from earlier this year. Back in the early 1970s, when Sanders was running for various offices in Vermont, his basic platform went something like this:

Sanders lost that race, the first of four losing campaigns over the next five years (twice for Senate, twice for governor). In addition to opposing the war, the party pushed for things including a guaranteed minimum wage, tougher corporate regulations, and an end to compulsory education. (Vermont's schools "crush the spirits of our children" Sanders once remarked). Sanders floated hippie-friendly proposals, such as legalizing all drugs and widening the entrance ramps of interstate highways to allow cars to more easily pull over to pick up hitchhikers.

I'm no fan of a conventional minimum wage (though I'm happy to consider a basic guaranteed income if it replaced all other transfer payments made by the state) but being against Vietnam, ending compulsory schooling, and ending the drug war. In such a world, a minimum wage and "tougher" corporate regs (depending on what that means) could well have been a small price to pay for such maximal freedom on three other important issues.

[Update: As Jesse Walker reminds me, in 1972, Sanders was part of a party calling for gun rights and an end to all sorts of morals laws. Check that out here.]

I doubt that tonight's debate moderators will fisk the Sanders' policy agenda circa 1971, which in any case seems buried by now under scads of bad ideas emanating from the senator's policy shop. Whether it is waging war on Chinese-made bobbleheads at American museums or castigating low-wage immigrants as job stealers, Sanders has really piled on the sorts of anti-free-market proposals for which he'll hopefully be called out on tonight.

From 2011, Sanders' War on Chinese Bobbleheads:

NEXT: Tonight's Democratic Debate: Your Guide to the Also-Rans

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  1. You know who else was accused of advancing some libertarian ideas back in the day…

    1. Khan Noonien Singh?

      1. He offered the world *order*!

      1. Nice.

    2. Hitler?

  2. Bernie Sanders is like a little girl who says “I want everyone to have a pony!” The real world is an extension of his imagination. It’s really quite charming.

    1. Close your eyes and wish *really* hard!

    2. On my home world just about every reptile gets a pony* …for lunch

      *four-legged mammal equivalent

    3. Vermin Supreme promised us all a free pony in 2012.

      The Democratic Party has run out of ways to self-parody. Only in such a world could your top trio of candidatae comprise Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden.

      1. With the heart of Hillary, the brain of Sanders, and the courage of Biden!

        1. If it was the brain of Hillary, the honesty of Sanders, and the likability of Biden, they would be unstoppable.

  3. and widening the entrance ramps of interstate highways to allow cars to more easily pull over to pick up hitchhikers

    I can’t believe that was actually a thing people cared about.

    1. Backwash from the Sixties, I suppose.

  4. Sallie James…

    1. Thing *she* was made in America?

      1. *Think*

        *** gets coffee ***

        1. Nope, not that I care.

    2. “Sallie James…”

      Really sarc, I only find her attractive for her Von Mises-like praxeological discernment.

      Her captivating eyes, poise, facial features, unique mannerisms, fine lips, charming accent, shapely neck, and captivating eyes have absolutely nothing at all to do with my attraction. No sir, sarc, it is merely my appreciation of her articulate way of speaking on human economic behavior that has gained my admiration.

      I don’t even like brown eyes anyway, sarc. So there.


    3. Tariffs on that Australian import would be a crime.

  5. OT: for those obsessed with bulk cellulose processing devices…..-20151013/

  6. Would someone please pull Michael F. Moynihan away from whatever dive bar he’s sleeping at this morning and tell him to stop nodding when Man on the Street says something immensely stupid?

    When you’re a man, nodding means you agree with whatever typically stupid thing the other person is saying. The libertarian response–not that MFM would know about that–is to frown almost as if to yourself, offer up your best algore sigh, and then shake your head deliberately.

    1. Bonus points if you exclaim “Alas, Babylon!” before correcting the Pleb on the Street.

    2. “When you’re a man, nodding means you agree with whatever typically stupid thing the other person is saying.”

      I thought it meant “yes, dear.”

  7. the sorts of anti-free-market proposals for which he’ll hopefully be called out on tonight.

    BWAHAHAHAH!!!!!!! Yeah, right! No one on that stage, opponents or moderator, is going to call him out on proposals they agree with but lack the honesty to say out loud. In all likelihood they’d love to give the Ron Paul treatment: just ignore him as much as possible and limit the amount of time he gets to speak to less than 5 minutes. The only reason they may not be able to is that he’s running in 2nd place, and it would be too obvious if they ignore the 2nd place candidate.

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    Join the Bernie Sanders Political Revolution here:

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