For many Czechs and others that lived through years of communism in the former Soviet Bloc, one of the most indelible images was the sight of queues at the local grocery store. Customers often had to line up for basic goods which were rationed out and not guaranteed to be in stock.
In fact, when Soviet leader Boris Yeltsin toured an American supermarket in September 1989, he remarked that there “would be a revolution” if his people saw how well-stocked grocery stores were in the USA. The Velvet Revolution was in full swing two months later, though it is unclear whether images of American supermarkets had any impact in swinging the spirit of Czechoslovak citizens.
In any event, the impact of lining up for bread in communist Czechoslovakia was not lost on Donald Trump Jr., eldest son of the current US President, who took the opportunity on Fox News yesterday to paint a picture of what life in America might look like under Bernie Sanders, currently vying for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Jr. claims he stood in communist bread lines pic.twitter.com/AhRE0urlil
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) February 13, 2020
“My mother escaped a communist country, I grew up, I spoke the language, I have friends from communist Czechoslovakia.”
“I waited in those bread lines. I can assure you they are not as glamorous as Bernie and the academia today make them out to be.”
Trump Jr.’s comments refer to a 1985 interview given by Sanders in praise of food rationing.
“It’s funny, sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is, that people are lining up for food,” Sanders said.
“That is a good thing! In other countries people don’t line up for food: the rich get the food and the poor starve to death.”
Trump Jr. was born in 1977 to Donald Trump and his first wife Ivana, born Ivana Zelníčková. As a child, he spent the summer months with his grandparents in his mother’s hometown of Zlín, then known as Gottwaldov.
He also speaks fluent Czech – even perfect Czech, as he once remarked to a Czech reporter:
Here’s video I found of Donald Trump, Jr. speaking fluent Czech & saying he speaks it fluently. He then explains how he & his family went to Czech Rep every summer for 2 months every year growing up. With all this Prague talk, this video is interesting… pic.twitter.com/1piuKcU9Ck
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) December 28, 2018
Of course, Bernie Sanders’ concept of democratic socialism doesn’t directly align with the kind of communism practiced in the former U.S.S.R.
Many of his ideals, including universal health care, are already in place in most Western nations – including the present-day Czech Republic.