While speaking at the New Populism Conference, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) warned the audience that if America doesn’t change its current course of allowing corporations and billionaires to dictate elections, the country is headed down a dangerous road towards becoming an oligarchy.
“There’s an election coming up in November,” said Sanders, “and what the pundits tell us is that 60 percent of the American people aren’t going to participate in that election,” which means that “70 to 80 percent of low income people and of young people will not participate in this election … [I’ve heard] the enormity of the issues facing young people, facing people of color, facing working people, facing low income people… and the vast majority of those folks are not going to participate in the election.”
The Koch brothers, however, as the senator pointed out, will be participating in full force.
“As a result of Citizens United and McCutcheon, the billionaire class now has the capability of spending unlimited sums of money,” said Sanders. “Just last year, the Koch brothers saw their wealth go from $60 to $80 billion … These people are prepared to spend as much as it takes … For these guys to spend $1 billion, $2 billion, $3 billion is like you going out for lunch. It is chump change.”
“The dynamics of American democracy today is,” continued Sanders, “that the vast majority of people don’t vote, lower income and working class people — in very large numbers — don’t vote, and the billionaire class is in the process of buying and selling politicians. That’s where we are today.”
“The Koch brothers … have been enormously successful [for decades] in creating an America, or a vision of America, which works well for billionaires but is a disaster for the middle class and working families,” said Sanders. “It is amazing how little this story is covered in the corporate media.”
Sanders then went on to list some of the points in the Libertarian’s 1980 platform from the year that David Koch ran for Vice President and funded the campaign, which were considered to be “radical” at that time.
These ideas included the repeal of campaign finance laws and the abolition of the Federal Election Commission, the abolition of medicare and medicaid programs, the repeal of the Social Security system, the abolition of the US Postal Service, the repeal of all taxation, eliminating the federal and state minimum wage laws, the complete separation of education from the government and the repeal of compulsory education laws, the elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the ending of all welfare, aid, and governmental relief programs.
Sanders was quick to point out that these ideas that were deemed crazy 34 years ago have now become some of the biggest platforms for today’s Republican party, specifically the decision in Citizens United and Sen. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget.
“That is the reality of what’s going on in America,” said Sanders. “The rich get richer; the middle class disappears. We have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on Earth. If we do not get our act together, we are in serious danger of moving from a democratic society to an oligarchic form of society.”
Watch Sen. Sanders’ entire speech below.