#NRABernie: From the Time He Was Mayor, Bernie Has Always Put Guns Over Socialism

In the mid-1980s, the Reagan administration was mired in the Iran-Contra scandal. For those of us whose history is a little rusty, this was when the Reagan administration - and specifically, Col. Oliver North of the National Security Council - had illegally facilitated an arms sale to Iran, and then illegally sent that money to aid the Nicaraguan right-wing anti-government rebels known as the Contras. A timeline prior to the fall of the Soviet Union, the Nicaraguan government was controlled by a socialist movement called the Sandinistas.

At the same time, Bernie Sanders was the independent mayor of Burlington, Vermont. Mayor Sanders was not simply vocal in his opposition to Reagan's foreign policies, he explicitly supported and praised the Soviet-aligned Sandinistas. It was natural for Sanders, who would later in that decade choose Soviet Moscow for his honeymoon. Mayor Bernie faithfully spread Soviet-Sandinista propaganda in the United States, traveled to Nicaragua to take part in a parade celebrating the Sandinistas' seizure of power, and even wondered aloud whether the "psychosomatic" stress from the anti-Soviet US foreign policy had given a former Sandinista leader cancer.

So, to say that Sanders had been the chief cheerleader of the Soviet Union and its extension states in central and south America would be pretty factual. He was especially supportive of the Nicaraguan Sandinistas. He despised contemporary American policy of attempting to stop the spread of anti-democratic socialism throughout South and Central American countries.

Except for one, tiny, little thing. Bernie Sanders may be a socialist, but his ultimate loyalty belongs to the American gun industry.

Even as Mayor Sanders propped up Soviet-Sandinista propaganda in the United States, he had a General Electric plant in his city that manufactured weapons that rebels used against Central American socialists. In 1985 - the same year Sanders traveled to Nicaragua to participate in the Sandinista parade - some protesters came to Burlington to protest that plant. The protesters used tactics that should sound very familiar to modern-day Bernie diehards. They chained themselves to the fence of the factory and blocked the gates.

So what did the friendly socialist mayor of Burlington do? He sent in the police and had the protesters arrested.

Sanders would later try to explain it all away, of course. The GE plant was one of the largest employers in town, and these protesters were keeping the workers from getting to their job. Their work, that is, of manufacturing weapons to help slaughter socialists. Nothing - not even Bernie's vaunted principle of anti-war non-interventionism - could keep Mayor Sanders from using cops to make sure that whatever happens to socialism, the business of weapons manufacturing would continue to thrive. One wonders why the 2 million health care industry workers who would be out of a job should Bernie Sanders's health care plan come to pass can't get that kind of sympathy.

It turns out that local media and protesters weren't the only ones watching. Five short years later, the NRA cleared the way for Bernie Sanders to get elected to Congress, where, the socialist peacenik became a top supporter of the military industrial complex.

Being an idealistic socialist is nice. But let's be honest. It doesn't pay the bills. It certainly doesn't buy three houses. For that, you need a few friends in high places. And the gun and defense industries are certainly good friends to have.

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