Senator Bernie Sanders. In 2010, the hijacking of American democracy by corporations and the super-rich became almost complete. Almost no politician in the US runs for office without begging and scrounging huge campaign funds from the rich -- so when they are elected, they must serve their interests, not ordinary Americans'. You can see the results everywhere. In the middle of a recession, there was a massive tax cut for millionaires and billionaires -- and a tax rise on the poorest Americans. Bill Gates pays less; a family living in a cold trailer-park with no healthcare pays more. While spending on schools and the poor was slashed, huge give-aways to corporations were ramped up, by both the Obama administration and the Republicans -- who are in the corrupt pay of the same people.
But one American politician, more than any other, showed there can still be a different, democratic way of doing politics in America. Bernie Sanders was elected as the independent socialist senator for Vermont with 65 percent of the vote in 2006, in a fight against the richest man in the state. He did it by turning down Big Money and instead organizing amongst ordinary citizens -- by promising to defend their interests against the people ripping them off.
He won over even very conservative parts of his state to a self-described socialist agenda by telling them: "Conservative Republicans don't have healthcare. Conservative Republicans can't afford to send their kids to college. Conservative Republicans are being thrown out of their jobs as our good-paying jobs move to China. You need somebody to stand up to protect your economic well-being. Look, we're not going to agree on every issue, that's for sure. But don't vote against your own interest. I don't mind really if millionaires vote against me. They probably should. But for working people, we've got to come together." In the place of the fake populism of the Tea Party, he offered real populism. In office, he kept his word. He has been demanding a real healthcare deal, trying to end the country's disastrous jihadi-creating wars, and captured America' imagination by standing for nine hours in the Senate trying to filibuster Obama's sell-out of his principles and his people. This is what democracy looks like.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
The Incrruptable Senator Bernie Sanders ~ An American Heroe
Johann Hari: Let's Hear It for the Unappreciated Heroes of 2010