Why Bernie Sanders Is the Only Populist Candidate for President

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The public outcry after the GOP tried to quash an ethics watchdog is the kind of citizen action we'll need to survive the next four years.

As Bernie Sanders stood politely next to the microphone at the Hanover, NH, home of Jon Fox and Darrell Hotchkiss, Fox, who was introducing Sanders, joked about how he offered Sanders a tie at an event in Burlington, Vt., when Sanders was still mayor.

“He absolutely wouldn’t let me give him the tie. He told me, ‘I hate those things,’” Fox said.

As the packed audience of dozens at Fox and Hotchkiss’s house stood captivated, Sen. Sanders asked a few rhetorical questions about the stark inequality between the haves and have-nots in today’s United States:

“How does it happen that despite a huge increase in technology and productivity, Americans are working longer hours for lower wages?”

“Income for the median family is about $5,000 less than that same family earned in 1999. How does that happen? Why?”

“The top 14 people in America, between 2013 and 2015, saw a $157 billion increase in their wealth. That’s more wealth in a two-year period than what the bottom 40 percent of American people have. Is this what the people want, or is this economy rigged completely in favor of the wealthy?”

The concentration of wealth among the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans has become such a pressing issue that even Republican presidential candidates as far to the right as Ted Cruz are acknowledging it, and on Fox News, of all places. While Republicans continue to insist on policies that will only exacerbate inequality – like the GOP-led House recently voting to cut taxes by $269 billion for the 6,000 wealthiest families in America – and Hillary Clinton pays lip service to the injustice of tax loopholes that allow wealthy hedge fund managers to pay laughably low tax rates, Bernie Sanders remains the only potential candidate proposing bold, definitive solutions to inequality.

At the New Hampshire event, Sanders called the current federal minimum hourly wage of $7.25 a “starvation wage” and called for it to be doubled to $15 an hour. He also drew attention to his legislation that would create 13 million new jobs by investing $1 trillion in updating America’s infrastructure.

As Clinton was bringing her nascent presidential campaign to the mainstream, Bernie got off the campaign trail and back in Washington this week where he employed an interesting filibuster to a bill that would speed the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership through Congress without the public getting to hear its contents. While Sen. Sanders was bringing up a procedural motion to stop the Senate Finance Committee from meeting to discuss fast-track, he tag-teamed with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) who has introduced over 80 amendments to the fast-track legislation, all of which will take hours to debate within committee.

In the meantime, Brown and Sanders are taking over the headlines to drum up public rage against fast-tracking the TPP – and getting what they hope are enough votes together to stop the bill in its tracks.

“It is not acceptable that probably until the last few days, major television networks spent zero time discussing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is the largest trade agreement in the history of our country,” Sanders said in New Hampshire last weekend.

Hillary Clinton, however, continues to waffle on the TPP. While she backed it as President Obama’s Secretary of State, she’s since kept mum about the trade deal – one that’s remained so secretive that the only portions made available for public review were done so by whistleblowers risking their entire careers. The worst parts of the agreement allow multinational corporations to sue the U.S. government over new laws that may infringe on future profits, effectively making American and other nations’ sovereign laws subservient to global corporate rule.

Very soon, Hillary Clinton’s campaign will be dealing with the fallout of “Clinton Cash,” a new book detailing the questionable ways in which the Clinton family built their wealth. Some examples include Hillary Clinton’s state department granting favors to foreign entities that made donations to the Clinton Foundation, and who paid Bill Clinton as much as $500,000 for each individual speaking engagement. Most notably, the book describes a Canadian bank and major stakeholder in the Keystone XL pipeline proposal that paid former President Clinton $1 million, right around the time Secretary Clinton’s State Department was considering the project.

Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, fast track authority, Bernie Sanders, wealth inequality, income inequality, populist candidate, money in politics, Citizens United

During Sanders’s most recent stop in New Hampshire, he decried the influence of big money in politics as the key obstacle to legislation that would allow the economy to work for the vast majority of Americans. His call for overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court decision and instituting public financing of campaigns drew wild applause.

Read more at Occupy.com.

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