Nothing stokes the fires of Senator Rand Paul’s righteous, curly indignation like socialism, which he thinks is bad, and— this is true— unsexy. But he admits that democratic socialist Bernie Sanders probably won’t go on a killing spree, unlike, say, Stalin. But can... we... be... sure?

In mid-October, Paul said that democratic socialism as practiced by Sanders “kind of scares me:”

“It amazes me and it actually kind of scares me. 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. I think it’s not an accident of history that most of the times when socialism has been tried that attendant with that has been mass genocide of people or any of those who object to it. Stalin killed tens of millions of people. Mao killed tens of millions of people. Pol Pot killed tens of millions of people. When you have a command economy, when everything is dictated from one authority, that’s socialism, but it doesn’t come easily to those who resist it.”

Buzzfeed’s Ilan Ben-Meir reports that Rand Paul declared Sanders not a homicidal maniac last week to the very fun-sounding “Students for Rand” group at University of Minnesota:

Earlier in his speech, Paul explained his habit of linking Sanders to mass exterminations carried out by socialist regimes throughout history.

“People say: ‘Oh, you’re saying that Bernie Sanders is Pol Pot.’ No, I’m saying that he’s embracing the same philosophy of socialism that lead ultimately to the extermination of people,” Paul explained.

“Stalin killed tens of millions of people,” he continued. “They say, ‘Well, Bernie’s not gonna do that.’ Probably not.”

But Paul argued that Sanders’s “democratic socialism” was not meaningfully distinct from other forms of state control.

It’s a slippery slope: one second you’re calling for single-payer healthcare, the next you’re rearranging the skulls on your killing field.

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Paul recently challenged Sanders to an hourlong “capitalism versus socialism” debate, not long after telling panicked snowman Glenn Beck it’s his responsibility to guide America’s youth away from the sexy draws of socialism: “I’ve been trying to point out — I’m on a lot of college campuses, we have a big following on college campuses — there’s nothing sexy and there’s nothing cool about socialism.”


Contact the author at anna.merlan@jezebel.com.

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Paul speaking at Florida’s Sunshine Summit, November 14, 2015. Photo via AP Images