A poem by Senator Bernie Sanders.
Sen. Bernie Sanders is (again) advocating for a “working-class families” agenda. Will anyone in Washington listen?
Before the Democratic Party unexpectedly triumphed in November (sort of), plenty of high-profile progressives — including Bernie Sanders — were urging, in public, for a return to the liberal principles of old.
Namely, Sen. Sanders and his ilk were urgently extolling Democratic Party leaders to embrace a working-class platform.
“Democrats shouldn’t focus only on abortion in the midterms: That's a mistake,” Sen. Bernie Sanders warned in an op-ed published by The Guardian on October 10, 2022. “America has long faced structural economic crises. Democrats must win on the economy and present a pro-worker agenda.”
“In my view, while the abortion issue must remain on the front burner, it would be political malpractice for Democrats to ignore the state of the economy and allow Republican lies and distortions to go unanswered,” Sanders wrote.
“We have more income and wealth inequality than at any time in the modern history of this country, with three people owning more wealth than the bottom half of our nation,” Sanders pointed out.
Listing everything from, “60% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and millions work for starvation wages,” to, “We have a dysfunctional health care system which, despite being the most expensive in the world, allows 85 million Americans to be uninsured or underinsured,” Sanders went on quite a tear.
Republicans, Sanders posited, are weak on issues impacting the working class; Democrats, in contrast, are strong.
“The list goes on: childcare, housing, home health care, college affordability,” Sanders began. “On every one of these enormously important issues the Republican party has virtually nothing to say to address the desperate needs of low and moderate income Americans.”
Sen. Sanders bemoaned the fact that the Republican Party is, on average, more trusted in polls measuring attitudes on the economy.
“You can’t win elections unless you have the support of the working class of this country,” Sanders told his fellow progressives. “But you’re not going to have that support unless you make it clear that you’re prepared to take on powerful special interests — and fight for the millions of Americans who are struggling economically.”
Not that anyone listened.
Now, Sanders is back to writing impassioned pleas on behalf of working-class families who are struggling with inflation, among other things.
“Congress must listen to working families and overhaul healthcare, minimum wage and education,” Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote on January 9, 2023, in yet another op-ed carried by The Guardian. “Americans are united on some of the most important issues facing our country and they want government to address them.”
Sanders wasn’t exactly climbing back up onto his old hobbyhorses of affordable healthcare, childcare and education; he never dismounted in the first place.
Whatever else anyone may say about Bernie Sanders, his policy positions haven’t changed much in decades.
“There is a lot of discussion in the media about how ‘divided’ our nation is and, on many issues, that is absolutely true,” Sanders wrote this time. “But what we don’t appreciate is that on some of the most important issues facing our country the American people — Democrats, Republicans, independents — and quite united.”
“The American people know we are being ripped off by the drug companies and they want lower prescription prices,” Sanders began hotly. “The American people know that our healthcare system is outrageously expensive and they want universal and lower cost health care.”
“The American people know that education is essential to our lives and the future of this country and they want high quality and affordable education from childcare to graduate school,” Sanders claimed. “The American people know that no one can survive on a $7.25-an-hour minimum wage, and they want to raise the minimum wage to a living wage.”
“The America people know that workers have a constitutional right to form unions and that corporations that engage in illegal union busting activities must be held accountable,” Sanders went on.
“At a time when too many Americans are giving up on democracy, now is the time to attempt to restore faith in our government,” Sanders all but begged his fellow lawmakers. “Now is the time for Congress to have the courage to take on the lobbyists and powerful special interests and show the American people that our government can work for them, and not just the 1%.”
“Let’s do it,” Sanders signed his artwork with a final flourish.
It was a call to action and Democrats might want to pay attention.
The Democratic Party’s class demographics have changed radically over the past 10 years.
Today, Democrats control 27 of the 30 wealthiest districts in the country. Democrats share equally with Republicans the poorest 30. A decade ago the opposite was true: The wealthiest districts in the nation were electing Republicans; the poorest, Democrats.
There is a major, glaring problem with abandoning the working-class principles of yesteryear: Numbers.
The wealthiest districts do indeed have a lion’s share of the world’s wealth. What they don’t have is numbers. Sooner or later, progressives who have been voting Democrat all their lives, believing it to be the party of the working class, are going to notice that Democratic Party policies benefit the wealthiest Americans far more than the working class.
Especially as the richest keep on getting richer, the poor get poorer, and no one can afford to live in the Democratic Party super-majority of California because the average home costs $850,000.
(Contributing writer, Brooke Bell)