The American political landscape is extremely disheartening. Bernie Sanders is the only candidate that offers a glimpse of hope in the 2016 election.
The Supreme Court decision concerning Citizens United ruled that political spending is a form of free speech, therefore allowing corporations and wealthy individuals to pour unlimited money into super PACs. These political action committees are not subject to restrictions and are commonly referred to as “dark money.” Of the one billion spent in federal elections by super PACs since 2010, nearly 60 percent of the money came from just 195 individuals and their spouses, according to a Brennan Center report.
The result is that the American democracy is rapidly transforming into an oligarchy. A small class of wealthy individuals influences the outcomes of elections and the candidates elected by their money reward these individuals by passing legislation that multiplies their power. A study by Princeton Professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern Professor Benjamin I Page confirmed the fact that America is no longer a true democracy.
The study states, “When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
The growing income inequality in this country is a direct result of a government that is elected by the rich to serve only the wealthiest Americans. The gap separating the rich and the poor is rapidly increasing and the middle class is disappearing.
Middle class income has decreased 36 percent since 2005. On the other hand, over the past two years, 15 Americans have seen their fortunes increase 170 billion. Wealth is being transferred from the majority of Americans into the hands of the few.
America is one of the wealthiest countries and the only industrialized country to not provide healthcare to its citizens. We also have the highest rate of childhood poverty. Over 20 percent of children in America live in poverty. Meanwhile, the rich keep getting richer by evading tax laws and buying off politicians.
Where does Bernie Sanders fit into all of this? Sanders has a long history of speaking out against corporate greed and proposing amendments to limit the power of Wall Street. He not only promises campaign reform and the repeal of Citizens United; Sanders refuses to accept money from PACs and billionaires. His campaign is entirely funded by average citizens.
Sanders stands in stark contrast with the rest of the presidential candidates. Trump boasts a fortune of 1.39 billion. Eight candidates (including Clinton) have assets exceeding 10 million dollars and five candidates have fortunes ranging from ten million to one million dollars.
Are these people supposed to represent the average American?
Bernie Sanders is the only candidate that will be able to carry out any of his promises because he is the only candidate who is not a slave to corporate greed and who is invested in the betterment of the American people.
His economic platform includes raising the minimum wage to a living wage because no working American should be living in poverty. He also promises to close the gender pay gap and implement a job program that would provide Americans with at least 13 million good paying jobs.
The United States is also the only industrialized country that doesn’t provide maternity leave. Sanders views this as a national disgrace and prioritizes the family and working mothers. Americans will pay more taxes under Sanders’ proposed system. These taxes, however, will cover health care and college, things which Americans are already paying for out of pocket.
To fund college education, Sanders suggests a tax on Wall Street trading. Then Americans could attend college for free, rather than graduating with massive debt.
A common accusation of Sanders is that he is a self-professed socialist. Many Americans still see socialism and communism as closely linked. He is not advocating for a massive redistribution of wealth but rather more opportunities for everyone to achieve the American dream. He has stated he wants different parties to come together to establish an economic system that benefits the majority of the people, rather than a select few, a moral economy that allows all hard working people to make a living does not need to go as far as total socialism.