The Democrats’ dictator problem

The senator, who opposed U.S. efforts to remove leftist Latin American governments and as a mayor in Vermont traveled to Castro’s Cuba and Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua to express solidarity with them, has at times muted his critiques of autocrats whom he considers victims of American imperialism. That’s what seemed to be going on during the debate, as he segued from defending his remarks about Castro’s literacy programs to an apparent allusion to U.S. attempts to oust Castro. “Occasionally it might be a good idea to be honest about American foreign policy, and that includes the fact that America has overthrown governments all over the world—in Chile, in Guatemala, in Iran,” he said.

Yes, Sanders was encouraging Americans to confront this country’s very spotty track record on supporting democracy abroad and to discuss the records of other governments with more nuance. But he was also echoing arguments often made by apologists for authoritarian regimes.