Libertarian Icon Rand Paul Gets Desperate, Wildly Misrepresents Bernie Sanders' Democratic Socialism

The antics of Republicans running for president in 2016 are getting more desperate every day as the two men who never held elective office continue to take the top spots in the polls.  

In a poll released Friday, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson leads megalomaniac billionaire Donald Trump among Iowa GOP caucus-goers by 9 points, 28 to 19 percent. With the exception of Ted Cruz, who pulled in 10 percent, the rest of the candidates trailed in the single digits, the New York Times reported. 

The other candidates have tried to boost their popularity in a variety of odd ways. A Carly Fiorina super PAC concocted an elaborate "Back to the Future" stunt that almost no one noticed, as Vice noted. Jeb Bush attempted to display manly prowess by slobbering over  Super Girl. 

And what of Rand Paul, once touted as libertarianism's great hope? Paul appears to be trying to terrify conservatives by (surprise!) wildly misrepresenting the political ideology of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.

After the last Democratic debate, Paul pulled out the red-baiting card and warned darkly of impending mass murder under the Vermont senator's brutal fist, saying that “most of the times when socialism has been tried” there “has been mass genocide of people or any of those who object to it.”

“It amazes me and it actually kind of scares me,” Paul said. “I’ve been spending more time going after Bernie and socialism because I don’t want America to succumb to the notion that there’s anything good about socialism."

On Friday, Paul doubled down on his comments, prophesizing a dark end for Sanders' critics. “If you choose to challenge the state,” he said, “they have to get rid of you, they have to arrest you or they have to eliminate you.” 

Whipping up paranoia about impending government takeover has bankrolled many a right-wing talk show host's career during the Obama presidency, so fear-mongering about Sanders' socialist label seems like a good bet for Paul. The fact that Sanders' socialism has nothing to do with authoritarian regimes of the 20th century apparently is not a detail Paul is concerned with. But let’s revisit how Sanders defines socialism. This comes from an extensive 1988 interview unearthed by AlterNet:

“ ... what socialism means for me is very similar to what it meant for Eugene Debs, and it really means nothing more than democracy. It basically means that human beings are entitled to have the inalienable right to control their own lives, and that means that when you go to work you're not working for somebody else who could fire you tomorrow because they don't like the way you comb your hair or you don’t come to work on Sunday or, for any reason, whether they can move the factory that you’ve worked in for 30 years out of your town because they can make more money going to Mexico.

“It means democracy, which means much more than just having the right to vote once every four years. People think, ‘Well, we live in a democratic society.’ In some degree, we do. We have some democratic rights, but having the freedom to vote for [presidential candidates] Ronald Reagan or Walter Mondale once every four years isn’t what democracy is about.

“It essentially means that to as great a degree as possible, human beings can control their lives, their workplace, their environment."

CNN is reporting that Sanders is gearing up for a big speech to explain "democratic socialism.” He is likely to remind working Americans his policies might be more in line with their views than those of Rand Paul and the other GOP 2016 contenders.  

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