Bernie Sanders: A Man of the People
In my humble opinion, I believe that the reason Senator Bernie Sanders is running for President is probably because, both the Republicans and Democrats have not only miserably failed the American people for the past 35 years, but both major political parties are on track to keep failing them for the next 35.
I think of Bernie as a "reluctant" candidate because he believes something must be done to change the course of this country. And since no one else (with any real integrity) had stepped up to the plate, he is truly sacrificing for the country — because he isn't running to fulfill any hollow or personal ambition (like many of our current candidates); nor is he running because he felt it was "his turn" — or because he felt some narcissistic or egotistical need to be in the White House (or aboard Air Force One). He is much too authentic and humble to harbor those type of shallow desires. The entire history of Bernie Sanders' political advocacy can attest to that.
Bernie Sanders doesn't have any hidden agenda or some pompous need for self-gratification. And I think his fans and supporters realize this, and that's why they believe he is genuine, and has the best interests of the nation and the American people at heart (unlike most of our politicians today).
Bernie isn't running to be a rock star, or to be the center of attention at the annual White House Correspondence Dinner (surrounded by movie stars, fashion models and the media elitists). He is a humble man who only wants what's right for the country and the American people. He is "the real deal" — and not a phony (a very rare quality in any politician).
Look at the excerpts in the timeline of the articles below, and see what Bernie sees — and then maybe you'll understand why he believes (like many do) that America really does need a "political revolution" — that is, if we want to fix the political corruption that has been plaguing this country like a cancer for the past several decades.
When you hear a politician (on either side of the aisle) say: "It's time to take this country back" — they are right. It's time to take this country back from the establishment pro-corporate politicians and give it back to The People. Ending Citizens United, voter suppression laws and congressional gerrymandering would be a good place to start (IMHO, online registration and voting would be great too, especially if Independents aren't forced to register as either a Republican or Democrat to vote).
The excerpts below are mostly related to the economy, but you'll get the general idea...
December 2, 2013 (two years ago) The Democratic Party is now the Party of Big Business (Posted at Real Clear Politics by Jeffrey Dorfman)
The traditional view of American political parties and their special interest groups is that the Republican Party represents big business and social conservatives while the Democratic Party represents labor unions and the poor. However, evidence suggests that this situation has changed. Labor unions and the poor are still linked with the Democratic Party. However, big business has now aligned itself with the Democratic Party.
Big business is working with the Democrats in favor of immigration reform because they want to expand the labor supply so they can hire people for lower wages. Big business has also received special treatment under the Affordable Care Act and they are happy to have received those favors. Also, big business likes the Obama Administration's practice of picking winners and bestowing subsidies, bailouts, and other forms of corporate welfare because they are the beneficiaries...
Big business has changed teams because its executives do not personally pay the corporate taxes for their companies, have access to many ways to avoid or minimize tax liability (both personal and corporate), and can afford lobbyists to arrange for special treatment and favors. This administration, with its willingness to rewrite or ignore laws when it suits its purpose, fits perfectly with big business happy to benefit from what others have accurately termed crony capitalism. Big business has perfected the art of lobbying the federal government for special favors and the Democrats are happy to play along.
When government is willing to bend the rules to suit its supporters, those who have the most influence also stand to gain the most. Big business certainly has the resources to successfully lobby government. The expansion of government has led to many more opportunities for government to either benefit or hinder big business. That has increased the rent seeking behavior by many big businesses. It has also led to a realignment of big business and its political interests.
While the U.S. Chamber of Commerce still lines up with the Republican Party in many instances, its individual members, especially the largest ones, are increasingly forming alliances with the Democratic Party. A number of prominent CEOs have been strong and visible backers of President Obama. While this might simply be a result of their private political views, it seems much more likely that the rationale is the hope that such open support will be rewarded with politically bestowed favors that translate into millions or billions of dollars of corporate profit.
President Obama and the Democratic Party [claim they] are committed to income redistribution and
are[sometimes act] openly hostile to the rich in principle. In practice, they are happy to help the rich prosper if those partnerships lead to political victories for them in other arenas. This symbiotic relationship has paid off in record corporate profits. Big business has switched its support to the Democrats and that move already has paid impressive dividends.
November 10, 2014 (one year ago) The Choice of the Century (Posted by Robert Reich at his blog)
If you want a single reason for why Democrats lost big on Election Day 2014 it’s this: Median household income continues to drop. This is the first “recovery” in memory when this has happened. Jobs are coming back but wages aren’t. Every month the job numbers grow but the wage numbers go nowhere. Most new jobs are in part-time or low-paying positions. They pay less than the jobs lost in the Great Recession. This wageless recovery has been made all the worse because pay is less predictable than ever. Most Americans don’t know what they’ll be earning next year or even next month. Two-thirds are now living paycheck to paycheck.
So why is this called a “recovery” at all? Because, technically, the economy is growing. But almost all the gains from that growth are going to a small minority at the top. In fact, 100 percent of the gains have gone to the best-off 10 percent. Ninety-five percent have gone to the top 1 percent. The stock market has boomed. Corporate profits are through the roof. CEO pay, in the stratosphere. Yet most Americans feel like they’re still in a recession. And they’re convinced the game is rigged against them.
Fifty years ago, just 29 percent of voters believed government is “run by a few big interests looking out for themselves.” Now, 79 percent think so. What the President and other Democrats failed to communicate wasn’t their accomplishments. It was their understanding that the economy is failing most Americans and big money is overrunning our democracy. And they failed to convey their commitment to an economy and a democracy that serve the vast majority rather than a minority at the top.
Some Democrats even ran on "not being" Barack Obama. That’s no way to win. Americans want someone fighting for them, not running away from the President. The midterm elections should have been about jobs and wages, and how to reform a system where nearly all the gains go to the top. It was an opportunity for Democrats to shine. Instead, they hid.
Republicans, in charge of Congress, will push their same old supply-side, trickle-down, austerity economics. They’ll want policies that further enrich those who are already rich. That lower taxes on big corporations and deliver trade agreements written in secret by big corporations. That further water down Wall Street regulations so the big banks can become even bigger – too big to fail, or jail, or curtail. They’ll exploit the public’s prevailing cynicism by delivering just what the cynics expect.
And the Democrats? They have a choice. They can refill their campaign coffers for 2016 by trying to raise even more money from big corporations, Wall Street, and wealthy individuals. And hold their tongues about the economic slide of the majority, and the drowning of our democracy.
Or they can come out swinging. Not just for a higher minimum wage but also for better schools, paid family and medical leave, and child care for working families. For resurrecting the Glass-Steagall Act and limiting the size of Wall Street banks. For saving Social Security by lifting the cap on income subject to payroll taxes. For rebuilding the nation’s roads, bridges, and ports. For increasing taxes on corporations with high ratios of CEO pay to the pay of average workers. And for getting big money out of politics, and thereby saving our democracy. It’s the choice of the century.
January 13, 2015 — Elizabeth Warren Says She Won’t Run (Posted at The Nation by John Nichols)
Fortune magazine announced Tuesday that it had obtained the final word on a White House run from [Senator] Elizabeth Warren. And that word was “no.” Interviewing Warren for Fortune, former FDIC chairman Sheila Bair asked: “So are you going to run for President?” “No,” replied the senator from Massachusetts. That blunt response came amid a burgeoning Ready for Warren movement to draft the outspoken critic of Wall Street abuses into the 2016 presidential race as a progressive populist alternative to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the as-yet-unannounced front-runner for the Democratic nod.
April 12, 2015 — Hillary Clinton Announces 2016 Presidential Bid (Posted at the New York Times by Amy Chozick)
Ending two years of speculation and coy denials, Hillary Rodham Clinton announced on Sunday that she would seek the presidency for a second time, immediately establishing herself as the likely 2016 Democratic nominee ... The announcement effectively began what could be one of the least contested races, without an incumbent, for the Democratic presidential nomination in recent history — a stark contrast to the 2008 primaries, when Mrs. Clinton, the early front-runner, ended up in a long and expensive battle won by Barack Obama. It could also be the first time a woman captures a major party’s nomination ... She will embark on her latest — and perhaps last — bid for the White House with nearly universal name recognition and a strong base of support, particularly among women ... Her return to the campaign trail this week offers her a fortuitous circumstance: Tuesday is National Equal Pay Day, the point in the year at which, on average, a woman’s pay for working in 2014 and 2015 would equal a man’s pay just for 2014. Pay equity is an issue that Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy will take up in earnest, along with others important to many women, like paid family and medical leave, a higher minimum wage and affordable access to child care ... Unlike in her 2008 campaign, when she played down gender and sought to show she was tough enough to be president, Mrs. Clinton plans to highlight that she is a grandmother and trumpet her chance to make history.
May 26, 2015 — Senator Bernie Sanders announces his run for President (Excerpts from Bernie's remarks posted at his website)
Today, with your support and the support of millions of people throughout this country, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally. Today, we stand here and say loudly and clearly that; “Enough is enough. This great nation and its government belong to all of the people, and not to a handful of billionaires, their Super-PACs and their lobbyists.”
Now is the time for millions of working families to come together, to revitalize American democracy, to end the collapse of the American middle class and to make certain that our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy a quality of life that brings them health, prosperity, security and joy – and that once again makes the United States the leader in the world in the fight for economic and social justice, for environmental sanity and for a world of peace ...
Today, we live in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world but that reality means very little for most of us because almost all of that wealth is owned and controlled by a tiny handful of individuals. In America we now have more income and wealth inequality than any other major country on earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone is wider than at any time since the 1920s. The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time and it is the great political issue of our time. And we will address it.
Let me be very clear. There is something profoundly wrong when the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, and when 99 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent. There is something profoundly wrong when, in recent years, we have seen a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires at the same time as millions of Americans work longer hours for lower wages and we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on earth. There is something profoundly wrong when one family owns more wealth than the bottom 130 million Americans. This grotesque level of inequality is immoral. It is bad economics. It is unsustainable. This type of rigged economy is not what America is supposed to be about. This has got to change and, as your president, together we will change it.
But it is not just income and wealth inequality. It is the tragic reality that for the last 40 years the great middle class of our country – once the envy of the world – has been disappearing. Despite exploding technology and increased worker productivity, median family income is almost $5,000 less than it was in 1999. In Vermont and throughout this country it is not uncommon for people to be working two or three jobs just to cobble together enough income to survive on and some health care benefits.
The truth is that real unemployment is not the 5.4 percent you read in newspapers. It is close to 11 percent if you include those workers who have given up looking for jobs or who are working part time when they want to work full time. Youth unemployment is over 17 percent and African-American youth unemployment is much higher than that. Today, shamefully, we have 45 million people living in poverty, many of whom are working at low-wage jobs. These are the people who struggle every day to find the money to feed their kids, to pay their electric bills and to put gas in the car to get to work. This campaign is about those people and our struggling middle class. It is about creating an economy that works for all, and not just the one percent ...
Combating this political alienation, this cynicism and this legitimate anger will not be easy. That’s for sure. But that is exactly what, together, we have to do if we are going to turn this country around – and that is what this campaign is all about. And to bring people together we need a simple and straight-forward progressive agenda which speaks to the needs of our people, and which provides us with a vision of a very different America. And what is that agenda?
It begins with jobs. If we are truly serious about reversing the decline of the middle class we need a major federal jobs program which puts millions of Americans back to work at decent paying jobs. At a time when our roads, bridges, water systems, rail and airports are decaying, the most effective way to rapidly create meaningful jobs is to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation which would invest $1 trillion over 5 years to modernize our country’s physical infrastructure. This legislation would create and maintain at least 13 million good-paying jobs, while making our country more productive, efficient and safe. And I promise you as president I will lead that legislation into law.
I will also continue to oppose our current trade policies. For decades, presidents from both parties have supported trade agreements which have cost us millions of decent paying jobs as corporate America shuts down plants here and moves to low-wage countries. As president, my trade policies will break that cycle of agreements which enrich at the expense of the working people of this country.
Let us be honest and acknowledge that millions of Americans are now working for totally inadequate wages. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and must be raised. The minimum wage must become a living wage – which means raising it to $15 an hour over the next few years – which is exactly what Los Angeles recently did – and I applaud them for doing that. Our goal as a nation must be to ensure that no full-time worker lives in poverty. Further, we must establish pay equity for women workers. It’s unconscionable that women earn 78 cents on the dollar compared to men who perform the same work. We must also end the scandal in which millions of American employees, often earning less than $30,000 a year, work 50 or 60 hours a week – and earn no overtime. And we need paid sick leave and guaranteed vacation time for all.
This campaign is going to send a message to the billionaire class. And that is: you can’t have it all. You can’t get huge tax breaks while children in this country go hungry. You can’t continue sending our jobs to China while millions are looking for work. You can’t hide your profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens, while there are massive unmet needs on every corner of this nation. Your greed has got to end. You cannot take advantage of all the benefits of America, if you refuse to accept your responsibilities.
That is why we need a tax system which is fair and progressive, which makes wealthy individuals and profitable corporations begin to pay their fair share of taxes.
It is time to break up the largest financial institutions in the country. Wall Street cannot continue to be an island unto itself, gambling trillions in risky financial instruments while expecting the public to bail it out. If a bank is too big to fail it is too big to exist. We need a banking system which is part of the job creating productive economy, not a handful of huge banks on Wall Street which engage in reckless and illegal activities ...
The United States remains the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care for all as a right. Despite the modest gains of the Affordable Care Act, 35 million Americans continue to lack health insurance and many more are under-insured. Yet, we continue paying far more per capita for health care than any other nation. The United States must join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all as a right by moving toward a Medicare-for-All single-payer system.
At a time when millions of Americans are struggling to keep their heads above water economically, at a time when senior poverty is increasing, at a time when millions of kids are living in dire poverty, my Republican colleagues, as part of their recently-passed budget, are trying to make a terrible situation even worse. If you can believe it, the Republican budget throws 27 million Americans off health insurance, makes drastic cuts in Medicare, throws millions of low-income Americans, including pregnant women off of nutrition programs, and makes it harder for working-class families to afford college or put their kids in the Head Start program. And then, to add insult to injury, they provide huge tax breaks for the very wealthiest families in this country while they raise taxes on working families.
Well, let me tell my Republican colleagues that I respectfully disagree with their approach. Instead of cutting Social Security, we’re going to expand Social Security benefits. Instead of cutting Head Start and child care, we are going to move to a universal pre-K system for all the children of this country. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt reminded us, a nation’s greatness is judged not by what it provides to the most well-off, but how it treats the people most in need. And that’s the kind of nation we must become ...
November 27, 2015 — What Is Holding Back the Economy? (Posted at the New York Times by Teresa Tritch)
For many if not most people, the standard of living that can be achieved by working has been permanently reduced — by long bouts of unemployment and underemployment, by unstable and insecure employment, by long-term stagnation of wages and, perhaps most significantly, by the failure of Congress to use fiscal policy, consistently and aggressively, to counteract the devastation of the recession and its corrosive effects on the economy.
For some people in some places, steady work is simply no longer a way of life, if it ever was. In several states where jobless rates have fallen to pre-recession levels, including Illinois and Ohio, the drop is due mainly to shrinking labor forces, not increases in hiring. When unemployment rates go down because people have despaired of ever finding a job, the economy is not really improving. Rather, it is downshifting to a less prosperous level.
There are two related ways to counter that downshift. One is to make productivity-enhancing investments that create jobs today and lay the foundation for future growth. Such investments would include bolstered spending for education, transportation, environmental protection, basic science and other fields that are the purview of government. The other is to enact policies to ensure that pay and profits from enhanced productivity are broadly shared, rather than concentrated at the top of the income-and-wealth ladder. Such policies would include strict anti-trust enforcement, steeply progressive taxes, a higher minimum wage and support for labor unions. ...
But for now, there is mostly talk..., and much of the talk, especially from Republicans, is about how government should not step up to the nation’s economic challenges. The economy has recovered from the worst and proven resilient, but it is being held back by what government at all levels has failed to do.
The economist Mark Thoma commented on that New York Times article at his blog
The problem is that Republicans have misrepresented the causes of the distress so many households feel, in particular scape-goating those who have it even worse as somehow responsible for their problems (and the decline of America more generally). And then they sell the solutions as benefiting the middle class (trickle down anyone?) when they are really directed at reducing taxes for those at the top, and reducing the government services that people rely upon to survive in this economy to support the tax cuts.
But there is something else I'd like to note. The problem is blamed on government at all levels, and fiscal policy. We hear, when Republicans are named at all, that it is "especially" Republicans as though the balance only tilts in one direction. No, it's not "especially" Republicans, or even "mostly" Republicans that are standing in the way of doing more to help those who are struggling to make ends meet. It "is" all Republicans. It's not congressional gridlock based upon reasonable differences over policy that cannot be resolved through compromise; it's an active attempt by one party to block anything the other party tries to do, even if it might help people economically. So long as the political benefits of this behavior — benefits based upon selling snake oil for the most part — exceed the economic costs of inaction, Republicans will stand in the way (all the while trying to convince those who are hurt the most by their actions that they will actually be helped).
It's time to stop blaming "government" as though that [in of itself] is what is dysfunctional. The dysfunction, as evidenced by the slate of, and preferences over Republican presidential candidates, is in the Republican party. Their actions since the onset of the Great Recession have, in my view, hurt people who should have been helped, slowed the recovery, and diverted our attention from the true problems we face making it impossible to solve them (not that Republicans would have gone along with the solutions anyway).
A reader at Mark Thoma's blog also commented on that New York Times article (which I edited)
Not so. Yes the Republicans are totally owned by plutocrats — but so are most of the Democrats. Anyone who doesn't think so can check the major funders of Hillary, Obama, (etc).
Bill Clinton presided over the demise of Glass-Steagall (deregulating the banks). He signed the NAFTA trade agreement and gave Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) to China. He lowered the capital gains tax rate from 28% to 20%. He gave us the "War on Drugs", "Welfare Reform" and "Bankruptcy Reform".
Obama promoted the TPP trade agreement — and just like the Republicans, spread the BS about needing to balance the budget. In one budget deal he agreed to chained-CPI on COLAs for seniors on Social Security (though Congress never passed that). He extended the Bush tax cuts for 2 years as a "compromise" with the GOP to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed for one more year (although, maybe that was justified — but IMHO, he probably could have gotten a much better deal).
We need to revive the "progressive" wing of the democratic party, and get rid of all the Republican-LITEs in democratic clothing (like Obama and Hillary).
November 27, 2015 — According to Bernie Sanders, income inequality means many Americans aren’t “truly free” (Posted at QAZ by Elizabeth Winkler)
In his latest campaign speech at Georgetown University, Sanders added a new dimension to his argument: the yawning gap between rich and poor has created a growing class of Americans, he suggested, who aren’t really free.
“People are not truly free when they are unable to feed their family,” he said. “People are not truly free when they are unable to retire with dignity. People are not truly free when they are unemployed or underpaid or when they are exhausted by working long hours. People are not truly free when they have no health care.”
Sanders grounds his argument in former president Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1944 State of the Union speech. Addressing an America that he had helped pull up from the depths of the Great Depression, Roosevelt said, “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not free men.”
What Sanders wants to deliver is neither radically new nor radically un-American; it’s the old promise of American democracy that was never fully fulfilled.
That's where Bernie Sanders comes in — as the Reluctant Candidate. But even if he is elected, he will still need Democrats (even Republican-LITES) as "reluctant" progressives in Congress to pass all the changes we need to turn this country around for average working Americans. But you can bet that the pro-corporate establishment politicians (on both sides of the aisle), the corporate media and the corporate pollsters will do EVERYTHING IN THEIR POWER to squash democracy and keep the American people from taking their country back from them.
November 24, 2015 — Lifelong Republicans Who Love Bernie Sanders (Posted at The Atlantic by Aaron Josefczyk)
Some conservatives are defying expectation and backing the Vermont senator...There are Facebook groups and Reddit forums devoted entirely to Republicans who adore the Vermont senator ... These Republicans for Sanders defy neat categorization. Some are fed up with the status quo in Washington, and believe that Sanders, with his fiery populist message, is the presidential contender most likely to disrupt it. Others have voted Republican for years, but feel alarmed by what they see as the sharp right turn the party has taken ... In some cases, longtime Republican voters who have decided to support Sanders, are rethinking their political affiliation entirely ... Sanders’s promise to wrest power away from Wall Street and return it to the American middle class taps into the same vein of populist anger that fueled the rise of the Tea Party. It’s also a message that resonates with mainstream Republicans and Democrats.
November 26, 2015 — Why So Many Conservatives and Republicans Are “Feeling the Bern” (Posted at Ring of Fire)
Several weeks ago, Bernie Sanders appeared on Morning Joe, a conservative talk show hosted by former GOP Congressman Joe Scarborough. During the interview, there was discussion about Republicans and other conservatives who are starting to listen to what Sanders has to say, and even embracing his message. This hasn’t changed – in fact, the phenomenon is actually growing. Voters who have identified as staunch Republicans their entire lives find themselves getting behind the self-described democratic socialist Senator from Vermont ... The big picture here is that both corporations and government are responsible for the problems that we now face. That should get everyone outraged – and it is, as demonstrated by the fact that more conservatives and Republicans are “feeling the Bern.”
LA Progressive: There Really Are Republicans for Bernie
There really are Republicans (and former Republicans) who want Bernie Sanders for President ... There are several Facebook pages called “Republicans for Bernie” ... Why is this important? Because if Republicans want Bernie, this confronts the sure-to-come GOP claim that Bernie Sanders is unfit to be President because he is a “democratic socialist.” Thus far, the attacks on Bernie’s character and platform have been either lame or of little persuasive value to Republican voters.
Sam Warde: Republicans For Bernie Sanders?!
Some Republicans are jumping on-board the Bernie Sanders bandwagon ... This phenomenon of gaining Republican support isn’t new for Sanders ... The Atlantic summarizes Sanders’ run for the presidency in an article [and] they conclude writing: “If nothing else, his campaign seems to be succeeding in getting his progressive ideas into the mix.