Bernie Sanders is as focused as any member of Congress could be on the struggles of the state he represents, and more generally on the challenges facing working people across the United States.
But that does not mean that the independent senator from Vermont fails to recognize when things are kicking up around the world—especially when those developments have meaning for the fights he is waging in Washington.
So it should come as little surprise that the news from Europe—of a democratic rejection of failed austerity policies—has caught his imagination.
Sanders knows that austerity is not just a European crisis. It threatens America as well. And he is highlighting what his Senate website recognizes as: “An Austerity Backlash.”
The senator is right to be excited that citizens are pushing back.
Sanders says Europe’s voters are sending a message that America’s voters can and should echo: the time has come to reject austerity measures that have unfairly burdened working families, while redistributing ever more wealth upward to millionaires and billionaires.
France on Sunday elected a new president, Socialist François Hollande, who campaigned on a promise to tax the very wealthy in order to free up funds for investment in job creation, education and social services.
Hollande rejects the attacks on unions and cuts to education and public services that have stalled European economies, promising that he will not casually continue the job-killing austerity policies foisted on Europe by bureaucrats and bankers.
There is, Hollande says, “hope that at last austerity is no longer inevitable.”
In Greece, the leader of the Syriza, the radical coalition that as a result of Sunday’s election results has leapt from the sidelines of politics to status as the nation’s second-largest party, is even more blunt in his rejection of austerity.