Before he was tweeting deranged-looking selfie videos from his car about the supposed hidden dangers of democratic socialism, Sen. Marco Rubio in 2015 said it was unfair to compare Sanders' ideology to that of Fidel Castro's regime in Communist Cuba — and stated Sanders' platform was instead similar to those of the social-democratic parties that exist in many thriving European nations.
But now that Sanders has cemented himself as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, Rubio seems to be taking a different stance. The U.S. senator from Florida made headlines this week after he filmed himself driving while ranting that democratic socialism is a dangerous ideology that has forced people to flee their countries. And last night, during the latest Democratic debates in South Carolina, Rubio felt the need to point out on Twitter that Sanders was getting "very positive" coverage in Communist Cuban media:
The likely Democratic Presidential nominee is getting very positive media coverage today.... ..............in the official “newspaper” of the Cuban Communist Party. pic.twitter.com/unHZW1stri— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 25, 2020
That move sure seems like a change from Rubio's remarks at an event in New Hampshire in November 2015. At the time, CNN reported that Rubio bristled when a speaker said the socialism that Sanders promoted had similarities to the Cuban Communism Rubio's own family had fled.
"In fairness, they fled communism," Rubio responded. "There is social democracy, right, like you see in Europe, where government provides for every aspect of your life, but there's consequence to that. They fled communism, which is beyond socialism, obviously, where government controls society, but also government controls politics, life, the banning of religion — people were being executed."
Rubio also said that although he didn't believe in Sanders' platform, he did not "personally have a problem with Bernie because he's being honest about what he believes in. I'd love to have that debate."
He added, "I don't think it works for America. My argument is, [if] you want to live in a country like that — there's like dozens of countries around the world that are socialist — move there. We should continue to be America."
But after Sanders praised Cuba's literacy and medical programs this week, Rubio is claiming democratic socialism has led people to flee their countries to move to the United States. Though Rubio has occasionally made these points before, he decided this week to film himself while driving in what might have been a violation of laws against distracted driving.
Rubio's latest comments seem to imply Sanders' platform would somehow affect Americans' rights to free elections or to choose where their children go to school — two concepts Sanders' democratic socialism would demonstrably not affect.
"Democratic socialism sounds benign, but at the core, democratic socialism is Marxism, and at the core of Marxism is this fake offer that if you turn over more of your individual freedom, we're gonna provide you security; we're gonna provide you free healthcare; we're gonna provide you education," Rubio said in the car video.
He went on to claim that Sanders' platform will somehow take away Americans' freedoms — a stance at odds with his 2015 comparison to European countries, where social-democratic parties exist and have not taken away those freedoms.
"But the problem is that when you're not happy with it or they can't deliver on it, you don't get your freedoms back," Rubio stated in the recent car video. "And by freedoms, I don't just mean elections. I'm talking about the right to choose your own doctor, the right to make healthcare decisions for yourself, what your kids learn in school, what schools they go do. All that stuff you lose control over, and you don't get it back just because the security they promised you didn't happen. So that's what we're on the verge of having to decide here in this country. It's the reason why people flee countries that have this stuff. It's a big deal for America, and I hope people start waking up to that reality."
Democratic Socialism sounds benign. It’s not. It’s built on Marxism. pic.twitter.com/VoFZlkSIgT— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 24, 2020
“socialism” is incompatible with America’s founding principles because marxism is the belief that:— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 23, 2020
“Persons of & by themselves have no value. An individual has a value only inasmuch as he is the representative of an economic category...outside of that,man has no value."
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Of course, Rubio has flip-flopped on the issue whenever it's been politically expedient for him. Months before the first Democratic presidential debate in Miami last June, Rubio tweeted that "over a dozen" Democratic candidates would be "promoting socialism" in a city full of people who had fled Castro's Cuba. That statement was obviously false because Sanders is the only socialist running for the Democratic nomination. But it was also a clear flip-flop on Rubio's part because he hd already said in 2015 that Castro's regime went "beyond socialism" and had been executing people:
The first Democratic presidential debate will be in Miami.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 28, 2019
Which means we will have over a dozen candidates for President promoting socialism in a city which is home to hundreds of thousands of victims of socialism in #Cuba #Nicaragua & #Venezuela
Rubio has not explained how he squares these statements, and his spokespeople did not respond to a message from New Times yesterday asking for more information. But Sanders, of course, has said all along he'd like to push the United States to become more like Scandinavian countries, where quality-of-life scores remain the highest in the world.
Rubio, it seems, was much more willing to admit that fact himself five years ago — before Sanders came close to winning the Democratic nomination.