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The FBI revealed it investigated Bernie Sanders for supporting the Socialists Workers Party against Ronald Reagan in the 1980 and 1984 presidential elections.
Although he now downplays his involvement in radical groups, a younger Sanders campaigned on the stump for the unapologetically Marxist group. (Washington Examiner)
Sanders has always played down the extent of his involvement with the party, which included radicals who praised the Soviet Union and Cuban communists, and has denied ever being a member. Asked in 1988 about his role as an SWP elector in 1980, he said: “I was asked to put my name on the ballot and I did, that’s true.” In fact, his ties to the party are deep and enduring.
The 2020 Democratic presidential primary candidate and United States senator from Vermont, now 77, often scoffs at comparisons between his brand of self-described “democratic socialism” and communism. In recent years, he has said he is merely interested in having the United States look more like Sweden, a social democracy with a broad welfare state but a well-functioning private sector.
But his personal files from his time as mayor of Burlington, from 1981 to 1989, archived at the University of Vermont, show that he supported and campaigned for the communist SWP and maintained a close relationship with its senior members. While Democrats campaigned for President Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Walter Mondale in 1984, Sanders spent the Reagan era supporting fringe Marxists with no chance of reaching the White House.
In 1980, Sanders “proudly endorsed and supported” Andrew Pulley, the party’s presidential candidate, who once said that American soldiers should “take up their guns and shoot their officers.” Sanders was one of three electors for Pulley on the Vermont ballot, stating in a press release: “I fully support the SWP’s continued defense of the Cuban revolution.”