By Jason Easley
Bernie Sanders has spilled the beans on Congress. Sen. Sanders said, “The Congress of the United States of America is controlled by a handful of extraordinarily wealthy people and corporations.”
Tavis: To your point about Citizens United, one of the ways that we might push back on this money being the mother’s milk of all of our politics notion, one of the way to push back on that would be some real, some serious, campaign finance reform.It is a not a stretch of the imagination to assume that the few wealthy people who control Congress are many of the same individuals who were on Sanders’ list of the 26 billionaires who tried to buy the 2012 election. Sen. Sanders was correct. The way to take back our elections is to get all of the special interest money out of politics.
There was hope back in the day that the president might eventually get around to that, but both he and Romney, you know, just played by the rules the last time around. So the politics get flooded with $6 billion, $8 billion dollars of money into these various pots. So it raises this question. What evidence do you because I don’t see any as yet?
What evidence do you see that this president this time around is serious? I’ve not heard him in any interviews say anything about campaign finance reform as one of his priorities. How do we get to that if this president, with all the money he raised, won’t ever put campaign finance reform on the table?
Sanders: Well, Tavis, you’re raising exactly the right questions and the answers are difficult. To my mind, the only way we move this country, number one, in overturning Citizens United, number two, moving the public funding of elections, is through a very, very strong grassroots movement that gives the president an offer and members of Congress an offer they can’t refuse. People have got to understand that the issue in Congress is not what the media talks about on why can’t Democrats and Republicans get along.
That is not the issue. The issue is that, to a very significant degree, the Congress of the United States of America is controlled by a handful of extraordinarily wealthy people and corporations, Wall Street being at the top of that list. And unless we address that issue, I fear very much for the middle class. I fear very much for our kids, for low income people and for seniors.
Give you just one example, one example. You have this business round table which is the organization representing the CEOs of major corporations in America. These guys, without exception, make huge amounts of money.
Some of them are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. All of them have these great retirement packages that the average American could not even dream of. Couple of weeks ago, they made an announcement that it is their view that we should raise the Social Security age to 70 and the Medicare eligibility age to 70 as well.
Can you conceive of the arrogance of these people who are at the top one-tenth of one percent of the income stratum telling working families that, before they can collect Social Security, they got to be 70, before they can get Medicare? So all of this is about the continuation of a class warfare being perpetrated by people who have incredible wealth, incredible power. Citizens United makes it even worse.
And at the end of the day, unless we have a strong grassroots political movement which says, excuse me, we’re not going to maintain this incredibly unequal distribution of wealth and income in America. Excuse me, the United States government is supposed to represent all of the people, our kids and the elderly and workers, not just billionaires. Until we have that movement, I doubt very much that you’re going to see the kind of political changes in Washington that we need.
The reason why the Republicans who control the House can blatantly ignore the will of majority of Americans is because the American people aren’t their constituency. The only constituents that matter to House Republicans are those right wing billionaires and corporations who keep the campaign coffers full.
If you want to get rid of ALEC, the Koch brothers, and the over sized political influence of the wealthy, public financing of our elections is the way to do it. The American people are frustrated by a paralyzed Congress, but they don’t seem to understand why Congress is stuck. Members of Congress mouth all sorts of platitudes and cliches about the democracy and the American people at election time, but in our current political system campaign donations matter more than people.
Sen. Sanders destroyed the illusion that Congress works for the people. The current Congress works for no one, but their donors. The needs of the people come last in this Congress, and Bernie Sanders was not afraid to tell you why.