The California primary is too early, and Democrats are going to rue the day that California could not bat clean-up when the Democratic race becomes Sen. Bernie Sanders verses one non-socialist candidate, not half a dozen. With less than week before the California Primary, Democrats simply do not have time to vet the disaster of the Sanders candidacy when the Trump machine gets him in their sites.  

Once Sanders becomes the presumptive Democratic nominee – having taken charge of a party to which he never belonged – the Trump millions will be used to brand him not as a simple minded “democratic socialist” but as a dangerous Marxist revolutionary, with a soft spot for Josef Stalin.

Let’s start with Stalin.  At the age of 22, Bernard Sanders, a recent college graduate, signed up to spend a summer on a kibbutz in Israel, not unlike many other young Jewish men.  Only he went to the kibbutz run by a group called Hashomer Hatzair. The historian Ronald Radosh, best known for his book proving that Julius Rosenberg was indeed a Soviet spy, recounted Sanders time at this kibbutz in an article titled, Bernie’s Adventures on a Stalinist Kibbutz.  

Radosh notes that, “In 1963 when Sanders worked on Hashomer’s kibbutz, its members considered themselves Marxist-Zionists, and they held a pro-Soviet orientation which included supporting Soviet foreign policy.”

Writing in an Israeli publication, journalist Ben Sales described the kibbutz’ Stalinist orientation, “The kibbutz belonged to the Israeli political party Mapam, which in the 1950s had been a communist, Soviet-affiliated faction. 

Kibbutz members had admired Josef Stalin until his death, and they would celebrate May Day with red flags.”

To have a Stalinist kibbutz in Israel may seem very odd, but in fact Stalin supported creation of the Jewish state with armaments in 1948 because he saw it as a way to force Great Britain and the United States out of the Middle East, and as a counter to the then anti-communist Arab monarchies.  Sen. Sanders’ kibbutz simply never got over its Stalinist past.

Fast forward to the 1980s and Sanders, now mayor of Burlington, Vermont, seems to have “switched sides”, becoming an active supporter of a Trotskyite political party known as the Socialist Workers party.

The Socialist Workers Party was part of the Communist League of America that was organized in 1928 in support of Leon Trotsky against Josef Stalin, who was not viewed as communist enough.  Even after Stalin had Trotsky murdered in Mexico in 1940, the party continued to espouse his ideas as America’s true revolutionary party.

The party had its ups and downs but survived with its strong support for the Cuban Communist Party and the Sandanista Revolution in Nicaragua, and in 1979 it supported Iran in the embassy hostage crisis.  Andrew Pulley, the party’s 1980 presidential candidate, regularly condemned the “anti-Iranian hysteria around the U.S. hostages” and President Jimmy Carter’s “war drive against the Iranian people,” agreeing with the Iranian mullahs that many of the hostages were U.S. spies.  Pulley also said American soldiers should “take up their guns and shoot their officers.”

This is only relevant because in 1980, Burlington Mayor Sanders was a presidential elector for the Socialist Workers Party, ready to cast his vote to make Andrew Pulley President of the United States.  Sanders proudly noted that the Socialist Workers Party’s “continued defense of the Cuban Revolution”. Sanders also supported the Socialist Workers Party candidate for president in 1984.

All right, so this is old stuff, in Sanders “youth”.  But last week, a jury in New York convicted Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of two felonies.  According to California law, the conviction should cost Weinstein his voting rights, but not if Sanders has his way.  He calls refusal to allow imprisoned felons to vote “voter suppression.”

“My conviction (is) that people who are incarcerated should be given the right to vote. I make no apologies for that position,” Sanders wrote in USA Today in 2019.  “Our country has had a long and shameful history of voter suppression….  If we are serious about calling ourselves a democracy, we must firmly establish that the right to vote is an inalienable and universal principle that applies to all American citizens 18 years and older. Period.”

Well then, let’s have a debate over the summer over whether Weinstein should have his California voting rights restored.  Donald Trump would surely enjoy that.

So who else would Sanders’ prisoner voting rights apply to if it were in effect: well such notorious California killers as Charles Manson, Juan Corona, the Hillside Strangler come to mind, as well as the Golden State Killer now awaiting trial for 13 murders, 50 rapes and 100 burglaries.  

But the most interesting killer still alive in a California prison also cast one of the most important votes in American history.  In June 1968, Sirhan Sirhan voted with his gun, murdering Sen. Robert Kennedy the night he won California primary, thus forever changing American history.  Sirhan is not an American citizen, never was, but since Sanders wants to cover all aliens, legal or not, under his Medicare for all plan, there is no reason to suspect he would oppose Sirhan having the right to vote.

Is this really what California Democrats want to be debating this fall; whether Weinstein and Sirhan should have the right to vote?  

Sanders was also a famous fan of far left British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.  “There is a real similarity between what he has done and what I did – he has taken on the establishment of the Labour party, he has gone to the grassroots and he has tried to transform that party … and that is exactly what I am trying to do,” Sanders said in 2017.

In December 2019, Corbyn led the Labour Party to its worse defeat in British history, leaving it with fewer seats in Parliament than at any time since 1935.  With Sanders as their nominee, Democrats can expect a similar fate when Trump gets done with him in the American election. 

So when the history of 2020 is written, California’s decision to move its primary to Super Tuesday will be one of the major mistakes.  With its huge haul of delegates, California could have made the decision whether to go with Sanders and hope his baggage won’t sink the whole party, or find someone who could make Trump the issue not his own socialist past.